Extended memory card

Recent cognitive theories like those on extended mind, embodiment, or brain-artefact interface, stress the relevance of the outer environment in transforming a “brain” into a “mind”. The brain needs information stored beyond its anatomical 1500 cubic centimetres to complete the network that generates cognition. Objects may be necessary to store additional and supplementary data, or even to induce processes. This may sound like metaphysics, but think for example about photographs. Without recorded images most of our memories quickly fade away, or are deeply distorted. And our mind is strongly rooted in memories. Many memories do exist just because there are photos able to regenerate those emotions, situations, and relationships. Sometimes we don’t have the memory of the situation at all, but just the memory of the photo of that situation. Images are a strict example of an external cognitive device. No doubt, language has been the result of an incredible evolutionary change. Nonetheless, I wonder if we are giving too much importance to speech. If our mind is really “extended”, drawing and writing could have been the real cognitive revolution, definitely setting the pace of our cognitive boost.

A challenge for archaeology and cultural neuroscience (Lambros Malafouris)
An Embodied Interaction Book Review (Seth Fox)

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2 Responses to “Extended memory card”


  1. 1 Petra June 24, 2012 at 17:14

    I like the ideas you presented of the importance of drawing and writing in perhaps setting the pace for the “cognitive revolution”. I agree that the act of creating art- including drawing, writing, music, dance, etc., have somehow played a large role in human cognitive evolution. The question I have is how can we go about testing these ideas?

  2. 2 emilianobruner June 25, 2012 at 07:58

    Good point … I think many people are working on it. I ignore how these hypotheses can find an “experimental way”, but I am pretty sure that day we’ll have a whole new world to discover. I guess a basic step should consist in testing, by functional imaging or psychometrics, how and how much objects influence and constrain our standard cognitive performances. We should be able to find a quantitative evidence of “enhancement” provided by this interaction, or even the necessity of some kind of relationship to induce or provoke specific responses. I believe also that “objects” are but the nodes of a network: relationships are the ultimate target.


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