rafael núñez
professional history

I investigate cognition from the perspective of the embodied mind. I am particularly interested in high-level cognitive phenomena such as conceptual systems, abstraction, and inference mechanisms, and the biological and cultural phenomena that make them possible. 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 field research with isolated groups such as the Aymara of the Andes' highlands and the Yupno of the remote mountains of Papua New Guinea (for a brief analysis of our studies on conceptions of time in these groups published in Science, see here: Aymara, Yupno). My book, Where Mathematics Comes From: How the Embodied Mind Brings Mathematics into Being (with UC Berkeley linguist George Lakoff) proposes a new theoretical framework for understanding the human nature of Mathematics and its foundations.

I am 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.