Introduction to Cognitive Science

Situated/Embedded/Extended Cognition

Last Update: 26 February 2014

Note: NEW or UPDATED material is highlighted


  1. General Surveys:

    1. MITECS:

      1. Smith, Brian Cantwell (2007), "Situatedness/Embeddedness"
      2. Seifert, Colleen M. (2007), "Situated Cognition and Learning"

        • If you have trouble accessing MITECS by clicking on the links above, then do the following:

          1. link to the UB Libraries
          2. using the BISON catalog, select "Keyword" from the drop-down menu, and then enter the title:

              MIT Encyclopedia of the Cognitive Sciences

            and click on "GO" or hit return/enter

          3. this should take you to a list of books; the first item on the list is the electronic edition of MITECS; click on that link
          4. that should take you to the catalog entry that lists

              INTERNET LINK http://cognet.mit.edu.gate.lib.buffalo.edu/library/erefs/mitecs/

            You would think that that would be a link, but it is merely a URL.
            Immediately to the left of that URL is an icon; that one is a link; click on it.

          5. With luck, you will be taken to MITECS, where you can click on the boldface title near the bottom the page, which, in turn, will take you to the table of contents.
          6. Whew!

    2. Clancey, William J. (1997), Situated Cognition: On Human Knowledge and Computer Representations (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press).

    3. Robbins, Philip; & Aydede, Murat (eds.) (forthcoming), Cambridge Handbook of Situated Cognition (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press)

  2. Simon, Herbert A. (1962), "The Architecture of Complexity", Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 106(6) (12 December): 467-482.

  3. Putnam, Hilary (1975), "The Meaning of "Meaning"," in Keith Gunderson (ed.), Language, Mind, and Knowledge: Minnesota Studies in the Philosophy of Science, Vol. 7 (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press): 131-193.

      Reprinted in:
    1. Putnam, Hilary (1975), Mind, Language and Reality: Philosophical Papers, Vol. 2 (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press), Ch. 12, pp. 215-271.

    2. The Twin Earth example from the section "Are Meanings in the Head?" is online at Google Books.

    3. One of the earliest arguments in favor of "wide" or "extended" cognition.

      For further discussion, see:

    4. Pessin, Andrew; & Goldberg, Sanford (eds.) (1996), The Twin Earth Chronicles: Twenty Years of Reflection on Hilary Putnam's "The Meaning of "Meaning" " (Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe).

  4. Fodor, Jerry A. (1980), "Methodological Solipsism Considered as a Research Strategy in Cognitive Psychology", Behavioral and Brain Sciences 3: 63-109.

    1. Reprinted in: Haugeland, John (ed.) (1981), Mind Design: Philosophy, Psychology, Artificial Intelligence (Montgomery, VT: Bradford Books): 307-338.

    2. A call-to-arms for "narrow" cognition, and a reply to Putnam.

      For a similar argument by a linguist, see:

    3. Jackendoff, Ray (2006), "Locating Meaning in the Mind (Where It Belongs)", in Robert J. Stainton (ed.), Contemporary Debates in Cognitive Science (Malden, MA: Blackwell), Ch.13, pp.219-236.

        There is a reply to Jackendoff:
      • Rey, Georges (1996), "The Intentional Inexistence of Language—But Not Cars", in Robert J. Stainton (ed.), Contemporary Debates in Cognitive Science (Malden, MA: Blackwell), Ch.14, pp.237-256.

  5. Suchman, Lucy A. (1987), Plans and Situated Action: The Problem of Human-Machine Communication (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press).

  6. Rod Brooks: Intelligence without Representation or Reasoning

  7. Smith, Brian Cantwell (1991), "The Owl and the Electric Encyclopedia", Artificial Intelligence 47: 251-288.

  8. Norman, Donald A. (guest ed.) (1993), Special Issue on Situated Action, Cognitive Science 17(1).

  9. Hutchins, Edwin (1995a), Cognition in the Wild (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press).

      See also:
    1. Hutchins, Edwin (1995b), How a Cockpit Remembers Its Speeds", Cognitive Science 19: 265-288.

    2. Hollan, James; Hutchins, Edwin; & Kirsh, David (2000), "Distributed Cognition: Toward a New Foundation for Human-Computer Interaction Research", ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction 7(2) (June): 174-196.

      • §§1–2 are a good survey.

    3. See also Hutchins 2011 below, listed under Critiques of Clark's Theory.

    4. Giere, Ronad N. (2003), "The Role of Computation in Scientific Cognition", Journal of Experimental and Theoretical Artificial Intelligence 15: 195–202.

      • From the abstract: "[W]e need to invoke a more radical notion of ‘distributed cognition’ that explicitly includes artefacts [in scientific cognitive systems]. However, [this] inclusion…makes application of the cognition[-]as[-]computation paradigm…problematic. I conclude that scientific cognitive systems are hybrid systems including both computational and dynamical artefacts as well as human agents."

  10. Peter Wegner's theory of how "interaction" machines go beyond Turing machines.


  11. Andy Clark's theory of the extended mind:

    "I not only use all the brains that I have, but all that I can borrow." —Woodrow Wilson

    "Even if we include the external environment, which can be used as an extension of an individual's memory, anyone who has written or bought many books or who has created many computer files knows that as the total amount of information one records grows the harder it becomes to manage it all, to find items that are relevant, and even to remember that you have some information that is relevant to a task, let alone remember where you have put it."
    —Sloman, Aaron (2002), "The Irrelevance of Turing Machines to AI", in Matthias Scheutz (ed.), Computationalism: New Directions (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press): 87–127; quote on p. 10 of the online version.

    1. Clark, Andy, & Chalmers, David J. (1998), "The Extended Mind", Analysis 58: 10-23.

    2. Clark, Andy (2005), "Intrinsic Content, Active Memory and the Extended Mind", Analysis 65(285) (January): 1-11.

    3. Clark, Andy (2007), "Curing Cognitive Hiccups: A Defense of the Extended Mind", Journal of Philosophy 104(4) (April): 163-192.

    4. Clark, Andy (2010), "Out of Our Brains", NY Times Opinionator: The Stone (12 December).

    5. Clark, Andy (2011), "Précis of Supersizing the Mind: Embodiment, Action, and Cognitive Extension (Oxford University Press, NY, 2008)", Philosophical Studies 152: 413–416

        Critiques of Clark's theory:

      • Ken Aizawa's publications page

      • Robert Rupert's papers

      • Rosenthal, Jack (2005), "Mnemonics" (On Language column), NY Times Magazine (17 July): 16

        • "In this information age, why remember anything?" (Because, says Rosenthal, you can use paper and pencil, or a computer, to store extra data; cf. Clark's ideas, above.)

      • Hermanson, Sean (2006), "Extended Memories and the Functional Roles Objection" (unpublished; abstract online)

      • Tollefsen, Deborah Perron (2006), "From Extended Mind to Collective Mind", Cognitive Systems Research 7: 140-150.

      • Theiner, Georg (2007), "Where Syllogistic Reasoning Happens: An Argument for the Extended Mind Hypothesis", Proceedings of the 29th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society: 1551-1556.

        • Available from Prof. Rapaport.

      • Dror, Itiel; & Harnad, Stevan (2008), "Offloading Cognition onto Cognitive Technology", forthcoming in I. Dror & S. Harnad (eds.), Distributed Cognition

      • Liptak, Adam (2008), "If Your Hard Drive Could Testify...", NY Times (7 January): A12.

        • Cites a legal case in which a judge determined that "electronic storage devices function as an extension of our own memory", hence should not be inspected "without cause".

      • Noë, Alva (2009), "Extending Our View of Mind", Trends in Cognitive Sciences 13(6): 237–238.

      • Marsh, Leslie (guest ed.) (2010), Special Issue on Extended Mind, Cognitive Systems Research 11(4) (December): 311–408.

      • Sterelny, Kim (2010), "Minds: Extended or Scaffolded?", Phenomenology and Cognitive Science 9: 465–481.

      • Hutchins, Edwin (2011), "Enculturating the Supersized Mind", Philosophical Studies 152: 437–446.

        • Clark, Andy (2011), "Finding the Mind", Philosophical Studies 152: 447–461.
          • Contains a reply to Hutchins 2011, as well as a verbatim copy of Clark 2011.



    6. Wikipedia as the extended mind:

    7. Dresner, Eli (2003), "Effective Memory and Turing's Model of Mind", Journal of Experimental & Theoretical Artificial Intelligence 15(1): 113–123.

      • §3 (p. 118) of this paper contains these comments, which are relevant to the extended-mind hypothesis:

        1. "Thus, when the mind is claimed to be analogous to a Turing machine within Classical C[ognitive] S[cience] it is assimilated to the machine together with its tape: the two distinct parts of the machine are supposed to be neurologically realized within the human mind."

        2. "According to connectionist architecture, then, there is no (physically realized) tape of symbols in our heads."

    8. NEW
      Dresner, Eli (2012), "Turing, Matthews and Millikan: Effective Memory, Dispositionalism and Pushmepullyou Mental States", International Journal of Philosohical Studies 20(4): 461–472.

      • "…the tape [of a Turing machine] corresponds to a piece of paper, or a notebook—an artifact that is external to the human's mind and accessed through the humans's perceptual apparatus." (p. 464.)
        NEW

    9. Fox, Douglas (2011), "The Limits of Intelligence", Scientific American 305(1) (July): 36–43.

      • See, especially, the last 2 paragraphs!

    10. Wegner, Daniel M.; & Ward, Adrian F. (2013), "How Google Is Changing Your Brain", Scientific American 309(6) (December): 58–61.

      • "For millennia[,] humans have relied on one another to recall the minutiae of our daily goings-on. Now we rely on 'the cloud'—and it is changing how we perxeive and remember the world around us."


  12. Miscellaneous readings:

    1. Wong, Kate (2005), "The Morning of the Modern Mind", Scientific American (June): 86-95; esp. pp. 89, 94.

    2. Zimmer, Carl (2008), "Sociable, and Smart: In Spotted Hyenas, Clues to Why the Human Brain Grew So Large and Complex" New York Times/Science Times (4 March): F1,F4.

    3. Hasson, Uri; Ghazanfar; Asif A.; Galantucci, Bruno; Garrod, Simon; & Keysers, Christian (2011), "Brain-to-Brain Coupling: A Mechanism for Creating and Sharing a Social World", Trends in Cognitive Sciences 16(2) (February): 114–121.

      • Seems to be consistent with extended cognition but antipathetic to methodological solipsism, esp. in this passage:

        "Brain-to-brain coupling is analogous to a wireless communication system in which two brains are coupled via the transmission of a physical signal (light, sound, pressure or chemical compound) through the shared physical environment. (p. 115, col. 1.)




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