The workshop aimed to further the scrutiny and understanding of the emergence of the emotional embodied self through early nonverbal social interactions. Whereas recent empirical study and scholarship have revealed the importance of embodiment in cognitive aspects of social cognition, such as intentions and beliefs, relatively little attention has been directed to emotional understanding of self and other. Early infant development is pre-verbal yet intensely expressive of a variety of mental states, especially emotions, which are conveyed in movement patterns and rhythms of the whole body in the context of adults communicating with embodied reciprocity. We have explored the notion of emotional embodiment and its importance to the development of the subjective experience of the infant through his/her whole-body interactions with parent and others. This involved addressing several topics: (I) how are affective intentions conveyed through whole-body actions in early nonverbal social exchanges and how can these be measured? (II) What are the relations between whole-body communicative signals with other nonverbal communicative modalities such as vocal and facial? (III) What are the basic units of embodied emotional expression and how are these assembled to convey meaningful communicative messages? (IV) What is the spatio-temporal organisation of these embodied affective intentions in terms of changes in body movements and posture? (V) How are emotional kinaesthetic patterns of expression shared in parent-infant interactions? (VI) What, if any, impact does the parent-infant early embodied interaction have on the infant’s cognitive, emotional, and social development? (VII) What can be learnt about the emotional embodied mind from neurodevelopmental and psychiatric conditions? This workshop aimed at bringing together neuroscientists alongside movement analysts, developmental psychologists alongside experts in informatics, distinguished researchers alongside young scholars, to advance a truly interdisciplinary discourse about the importance of early emotional somatic and kinaesthetic social experiences to the emergence of a coherent and meaningful embodied mind.
This ESF Exploratory Workshop was built on momentum for cross-disciplinary activity begun at an important one-day meeting in November 2008 in The Anna Freud Centre, London. This meeting gathered together distinguished and young participants from usually disparate disciplines. Great enthusiasm for further interdisciplinary discourse and collaboration was expressed at the conclusion of this symposium, and all participants acknowledged that an important bridge had been formed. Some collaborative initiatives stemmed from this meeting.
This ESF Workshop was equally successful and was characterized by great enthusiasm to further our understanding regarding embodiment, its intersubjective foundations, its pivotal role in development and communication, its links with verbal communication, and its neural basis. There was also a desire to deepen the collaborations that have begun and establish an interdisciplinary group to further these aims.
We are hopeful that this website will provide the platform to connect the group members, allow for the unfolding of discussions and the sharing of information and knowledge, and create this interdisciplinary and mutually nourishing group we can all benefit from.