CFP: First International Conference in Embodied Cognition and Sport Psychology

Submission deadline: January 21, 2014

Conference date(s):
February 24, 2014 - February 28, 2014

Go to the conference's page

Conference Venue:

Department of Philosophy, UAE University
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

Topic areas



This academic conference aims at exploring important points of connection between the empirical studies of sport psychology and the embodied approach to the cognitive sciences. It will offer a unique occasion of interdisciplinary collaboration, and foster opportunities of reciprocal learning between theoretical and applied sport scientists, exercise and performance psychologists, cognitive neuroscientists, psycholinguists, philosophers of mind, phenomenologists, and practitioners who work in the sport environment, including coaches, trainers, and athletes of various disciplines. 

Embodied cognition theory offers the most suitable paradigm to pursue this integration and cross-disciplinary collaboration: successful sport psychologists recognize that the results and the models of embodied cognitive science can allow them develop more effective training methods; reciprocally, attentive cognitive scientists can’t overlook sport and exercise psychology, as this field is one of the richest terrains for empirical exploration, experimental discovery, and epistemological validation of models and theories. Cooperation between these two fields promises immediate and tangible benefits, as it allows proving the correctness of the theoretical models by testing how effectively they can improve the athletes’ performances; at the same time, it raises the value of sport science for cognitive science, proving how the empirical study of athletic performance can inspire and validate new explanatory models of sensorimotor capabilities, control, attention, memory, and language-action interfaces. Sports can provide invaluable insights for the sciences of mind, telling how skills are actually enacted and controlled, through the body, defining dynamic boundaries between mind and world.

Confirmed keynote speakers:
Tom Carr (Michigan State University)
Dan Hutto (University of Wollongong)
Jesus Ilundain-Agurruza (Linfield College)
Mauro Maldonato (Universita’ della Basilicata)
David L. Mann (Vrije University Amsterdam)
Albert Newen (Ruhr-Universitaet Bochum)
Thomas Patrick (ASPETAR, Doha)


Please submit an abstract by January 21th if you want to contribute a 30 minute long talk in any of the relevant disciplines, and contact the organizers as soon as possible ([email protected]) if you want to attend the four-day long conference. The registration fee is 1650 AED (350 Euros equivalent) or 1250 AED (250 Euros) for PhD and Master candidates. It includes on-campus accommodation in Al Ain (up to three nights) and hotel accommodation in Abu Dhabi (one night), five meals, one social dinner, eight coffee breaks, documentation materials, and transportation from/to Abu Dhabi or from/to Dubai airport. The program includes the paper presentations by the keynote speakers and the other invited researchers, parallel sessions for submitted papers presentation, testimonies and reports by expert practitioners, interdisciplinary roundtables, and an interactive demonstration session on the sporting field.

Possible topics to be submitted for a paper presentation include:

• The definition of skill. Is a skill just a potential for unreflective intelligent actions? Why and when are skillful performances damaged by self-monitoring? Are expert performers always attentive? Are attentive performers always disadvantaged?
• What is mental focus? What is its relationship to awareness and mindfulness? Does attentive presence essentially imply a representational modality of cognition (contextual, based on correspondence conditions), or it is underpinned by another, more fundamental form of bodily awareness?
• The paradigm of choking under pressure as paralysis-by-analysis versus the other explanatory models (cognitive overload and distraction theories). Alternative or complementary accounts? What are the differences across different kinds of sports and motor tasks?
• What are the best training methodologies to improve active control, practical intelligence, and problem-solving capabilities on the sporting field? Are these reflective capabilities a constitutive part of the embodied skills, or rather a different kind of process externally added to performance in order to supervise and control it?
• Emotions, attention, and mental toughness: is adrenaline beneficial or disruptive to skillful performances? Is performance anxiety produced by the disturbance of purely cognitive/informational processes, or does it testify to the affectivity implicit in embodied intelligence? 
• Pre-performance routines and ritual-like gestures: how do they work and how do they help athletes to familiarize with novel or stressful circumstances?
• Preparatory speeches and motivational talks: What is the interface of language and action? Both received verbal commands and self-generated declarative descriptions of the tasks can facilitate better performances, but they can also be disruptive for the execution of fluid movements. Why? Is metaphorical language more effective? What is the relationship between declarative contents and contentless embodied dispositions, and how do they interface?
• Visualization and motor imagery: is covert simulation of motor performances always beneficial to athletic preparation? How do visualization skills and executive motor competences interact? 

Please send any enquiry or request of participation to Dr Max Cappuccio:
[email protected]


This four-day long conference, co-organized and sponsored by UAE University (College of Humanities and Social Sciences and College of Education) and by Abu Dhabi Sport Council, is presumably going to be the hottest of the Winter (up to 25-30 degrees Celsius): it will be held in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, in a unique landscape framed by the desert dunes, the shores of the Arabian Gulf, and the most futuristic skyscrapers. The first two days (February 24th-25th), dedicated to research themes and theory of the sport sciences, will be held on the brand new state-of-the-art campus of UAE University, the top ranking academic institution of the Gulf region, situated in the ancient oasis city of Al Ain; the remaining two days (February 26th and 27th), dedicated to applied issues related to training and coaching, will take place in Abu Dhabi city, the modern capital of the United Arab Emirates – situated just one hour from the multicultural and trendy metropolis of Dubai.

Supporting material

Add supporting material (slides, programs, etc.)