Rafael Núñez

I'm a cognitive scientist, originally from Chile, and, after living many years in Europe, also Swiss citizen. I investigate cognition from the perspective of the embodied mind. I'm particularly interested in high-level cognitive phenomena such as conceptual systems, abstraction, and inference mechanisms, as they manifest themselves naturally through largely unconscious bodily/mental activity (e.g., gesture production co-produced with a variety of conceptual mappings). My multidisciplinary interests bring me to address these issues from various interrelated perspectives: mathematical cognition, the empirical study of spontaneous gestures, cognitive linguistics, psychological experiments, neuroimaging, and ethnographic field research investigating spatial construals of time in the Aymara culture of the Andes, and more recently, in the remote Yupno culture of the mountains of Papua New Guinea. My book, Where Mathematics Comes From: How the Embodied Mind Brings Mathematics into Being (with UC Berkeley linguist George Lakoff) presents a new theoretical framework for understanding the human bio-cultural nature of Mathematics and its foundations. I'm the director of the Embodied Cognition Laboratory at UCSD, with lab space and members dedicated to investigating how cognition is grounded on the peculiarities, experiences, and limitations of the human body.

Primary Areas of Expertise
Cognitive Science