Neurocognitive Foundations of Embodied Learning

A special issue of Behavioral Sciences (ISSN 2076-328X). This special issue belongs to the section "Cognition".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 September 2024 | Viewed by 1537

Special Issue Editor

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Guest Editor
School of Psychology, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen AB24 3FX, Scotland, UK
Interests: multimodal learning; neurocognition of language and music; sensorimotor interaction; multilingualism and second language learning; neuromodulation

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The search for impactful methods of teaching and learning continues to be a global priority. In today's digital age, the mere accumulation of facts is less valued than the ability to contextualize and apply information meaningfully. While traditional educational models often isolate learners from the contexts in which they will ultimately apply their knowledge, grounded and embodied approaches to learning argue for a more holistic experience, situating learning within its authentic contexts. Take, for instance, the pedagogical strategy of teaching angular momentum in physics by having students spin a bicycle wheel. This seemingly simple activity results in a complex interplay of neural systems involving motor, sensory, and visual cortices, thereby enriching the neural representation of the concept at hand. The students may engage not only declarative memory systems that store factual knowledge, but also procedural memory systems through hands-on interaction. Further, the emotionally rich learning context may make the learning experience more enjoyable and neurochemically optimize it for enhanced retention. Grounded learning emphasizes concrete experiences, contexts, and sensory engagement, from problem-based learning scenarios and case studies to the application of augmented and virtual reality platforms that enable learners to immerse themselves in the subject matter. Considering the utility of grounded methods in enhancing educational outcomes, it is imperative to examine the neurocognitive bases of these methods in greater depth. We are therefore pleased to announce a Special Issue dedicated to exploring the cognitive and neural mechanisms that support grounded and embodied learning, which is now open for submissions. We welcome the submission of original research papers, intervention studies, meta-analyses, and review articles related to the following areas of interest:

  • Neurocognitive mechanisms underlying grounded and embodied learning;
  • The role of sensorimotor systems in conceptual understanding;
  • Comparative effectiveness of grounded versus traditional educational approaches;
  • Effects of grounded and embodied learning on long-term memory retention;
  • Technological applications for grounding learning, including virtual and augmented reality;
  • Context-specific applications in STEM, the humanities, or language learning;
  • Emotional and motivational aspects of grounded learning;
  • Case studies for examining real-world applications of grounded learning principles;
  • Inclusivity features, with a focus on learner neurodiversity;
  • Best practices for deploying grounded approaches in remote or hybrid learning settings.

Dr. Brian Mathias
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Behavioral Sciences is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2200 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • grounded cognition
  • embodied cognition
  • cognitive neuroscience
  • learning
  • education
  • pedagogy
  • embodiment
  • multisensory
  • sensorimotor
  • multimodal

Published Papers (1 paper)

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22 pages, 1830 KiB  
Systematic Review
Benefits of Enacting and Observing Gestures on Foreign Language Vocabulary Learning: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis
by Luca Oppici, Brian Mathias, Susanne Narciss and Antje Proske
Behav. Sci. 2023, 13(11), 920; - 10 Nov 2023
Viewed by 1301
The integration of physical movements, such as gestures, into learning holds potential for enhancing foreign language (L2) education. Uncovering whether actively performing gestures during L2 learning is more, or equally, effective compared to simply observing such movements is central to deepening our understanding [...] Read more.
The integration of physical movements, such as gestures, into learning holds potential for enhancing foreign language (L2) education. Uncovering whether actively performing gestures during L2 learning is more, or equally, effective compared to simply observing such movements is central to deepening our understanding of the efficacy of movement-based learning strategies. Here, we present a meta-analysis of seven studies containing 309 participants that compares the effects of gesture self-enactment and observation on L2 vocabulary learning. The results showed that gesture observation was just as effective for L2 learning as gesture enactment, based on free recall, cued L2 recognition, and cued native language recognition performance, with a large dispersion of true effect across studies. Gesture observation may be sufficient for inducing embodied L2 learning benefits, in support of theories positing shared mechanisms underlying enactment and observation. Future studies should examine the effects of gesture-based learning over longer time periods with larger sample sizes and more diverse word classes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Neurocognitive Foundations of Embodied Learning)
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