What is it about?

Human cognition is extended and enacted. Drawing the boundaries of cognition to include the resources and attributes of the body and materiality allows an examination of how these components interact with the brain as a system, especially over cultural and evolutionary spans of time. Literacy and numeracy provide examples of multigenerational, incremental change in both psychological functioning and material forms. Though we think materiality, its central role in human cognition is often unappreciated, for reasons that include conceptual distribution over multiple material forms, the unconscious transparency of cognitive activity in general, and the different temporalities of metaplastic change in neurons and cultural forms.

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I am interested in how societies become literate by using and modifying the material form of handwritten pictures over generations of collaborative effort. The material form of writing reflects, accumulates, and distributes cognitive effort between individuals and across generations. I also look at how the material form of writing becomes increasingly adept at eliciting specific behavioral and psychological responses, and what this might augur about the future of human cognition.

Dr. Karenleigh A. Overmann
University of Colorado at Colorado Springs

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Thinking Materially: Cognition as Extended and Enacted, Journal of Cognition and Culture, October 2017, Brill,
DOI: 10.1163/15685373-12340012.
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