Give Now

A Moment of Science

Body Movements And Problem Solving

Next time you have a "brain-fart", try jogging in place.

Woman stretching her arms

Photo: hey mr glen (flickr)

Embodied cognition can help you solve problems by moving your body in certain ways

A recent study found that physical activity, such as jogging in place or stretching, can help in problem solving. It’s what scientists call embodied cognition–how the body affects the mind, and vice versa.

Tying Strings And Stretching Arms

The idea is that moving your body in certain ways can help you solve problems. For example, in one study, participants were presented with a puzzle: they had to figure out how to tie together strings hanging from rafters spaced far enough apart that they couldn’t grasp both at the same time.

While they were trying to solve the puzzle, about half the participants were told to swing their arms back and forth. The others were told to stretch their arms.

The Results

The arm swingers were forty-percent more likely to solve the problem. It involved tying an object to one string and swinging it so they could grab it while holding the other string. The physical act of arm swinging led to a similar mental solution.

The larger point is that the mind isn’t separate from the body. How we move and behave in physical ways can affect, and enhance, how we think.

Stay Connected

What is RSS? RSS makes it possible to subscribe to a website's updates instead of visiting it by delivering new posts to your RSS reader automatically. Choose to receive some or all of the updates from A Moment of Science:

Support for Indiana Public Media Comes From

About A Moment of Science

Search A Moment of Science