Towards a Vygotskyan Cognitive Robotics: The Role of Language as a Cognitive Tool

New Ideas in Psychology 29:298-311 (2011)
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Abstract
Cognitive Robotics can be defined as the study of cognitive phenomena by their modeling in physical artifacts such as robots. This is a very lively and fascinating field which has already given fundamental contributions to our understanding of natural cognition. Nonetheless, robotics has to date addressed mainly very basic, low­level cognitive phenomena like sensory­motor coordination, perception, and navigation, and it is not clear how the current approach might scale up to explain high­level human cognition. In this paper we argue that a promising way to do that is to merge current ideas and methods of 'embodied cognition' with the Russian tradition of theoretical psychology which views language not only as a communication system but also as a cognitive tool, that is by developing a Vygotskyan Cognitive Robotics. We substantiate this idea by discussing several domains in which language can improve basic cognitive abilities and permit the development of high­level cognition: learning, categorization, abstraction, memory, voluntary control, and mental life.
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