Meta-strategy learning in physical problem-solving: the effect of embodied experience
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Meta-strategy learning in physical problem-solving: the effect of embodied experience

  • Author(s): Allen, Kelsey R;
  • Smith, Kevin A;
  • Bird, Laura-Ashleigh;
  • Tenenbaum, Josh;
  • Makin, Tamar;
  • Cowie, Dorothy
  • et al.
Abstract

`Embodied cognition' suggests that our motor experiences shape our cognitive and perceptual capabilities broadly, but often considers tasks that directly relate to or manipulate the body. Here we study how a history of natural embodied experience affects abstract physical problem-solving in a virtual, disembodied physical reasoning task. We compare how groups with different embodied experience -- congenitally limb-different versus two-handed children and adults -- perform on this task, and find that while there is no difference in overall performance, limb-different participants solved problems using fewer actions, and spent a longer time thinking before acting. This suggests that differences in embodied experience drive the acquisition of different meta-strategies for balancing acting with thinking, even on tasks that are designed to equalize differences in embodiment.

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