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A Developmental Framework for Embodiment Research: The Next Step Toward Integrating Concepts and Methods.

Abstract

Embodiment research is at a turning point. There is an increasing amount of data and studies investigating embodiment phenomena and their role in mental processing and functions from across a wide range of disciplines and theoretical schools within the life sciences. However, the integration of behavioral data with data from different biological levels is challenging for the involved research fields such as movement psychology, social and developmental neuroscience, computational psychosomatics, social and behavioral epigenetics, human-centered robotics, and many more. This highlights the need for an interdisciplinary framework of embodiment research. In addition, there is a growing need for a cross-disciplinary consensus on level-specific criteria of embodiment. We propose that a developmental perspective on embodiment is able to provide a framework for overcoming such pressing issues, providing analytical tools to link timescales and levels of embodiment specific to the function under study, uncovering the underlying developmental processes, clarifying level-specific embodiment criteria, and providing a matrix and platform to bridge disciplinary boundaries among the involved research fields.

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