About this Project

Since the Renaissance, many scholars have overlooked the formative role our bodies play in shaping our minds, ignoring the influence that our movements have on our thinking and creative processes. But over the last several years, research in psychology, linguistics, and human development suggest that it is difficult to disentangle the workings of our minds from our physical sensations. This research is producing a new way of thinking about embodied cognition and changing how we think about learning and performing. This three-year project explores the relation between action, gesture, and sign language in order to develop a more nuanced and theoretically motivated understanding of how our bodies impact our minds and the minds of others. This project is core to the formative stage of a new Center for Gesture, Sign, and Language at the University of Chicago designed to provide a home for collaborations between members of the Departments of Psychology, Linguistics, and Comparative Human Development, and to catalyze new collaborations with scholars interested in the performing arts.


Fending Off Math Anxiety

April 24, 2017

Faculty Fellow Sian Beilock (The Body’s Role in Thinking, Performing, and Referencing) speaks to the New York Times on the effects of parents' math anxieties on their children's math learning. 

Anxiety Affects Test Scores Even Among Students Who Excel at Math

March 10, 2017

Facutly Fellow Sian Beilock, a Principal Investigator on The Body’s Role in Thinking, Performing, and Referencing research project, speaks to UChicago News about the effects of anxiety on test-takers. 

An Expert Take on Performing Under Pressure

February 3, 2017

Faculty Fellow Sian Beilock, who recently won the prestigious Troland Research Award from the National Academy of Sciences, discusses her insights on the psychology of performance under pressure with the Wall Street Journal. “We think of the mind as telling the body what to do,” she says, “but it’s not a one-way street.”


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