Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences

, Volume 11, Issue 3, pp 415–421 | Cite as

Louise Barrett, beyond the brain: how body and environment shape animal and human minds

Princeton University Press, 2011. 304 pp., ISBN: 9781400838349, $29.95
  • Mirko Farina
Book Review

Beyond the brain: how body and environment shape animal and human mindsis an eye-opening and thought-provoking book that sets out a much-needed contribution to the study of the relationship between animals, cognition, and the environment. The volume provides remarkable new insights into how to understand animal (including human) behavior, raises interesting questions about the role of environmental affordances in the emergence of complex cognitive processes and provides the reader with a refreshing break from the wearisome excess of brain-centric literature that still pervades much of the debate surrounding evolutionary psychology. In embracing the theoretical framework endorsed by proponents of embodied cognition, Barrett adopts an ecological approach to psychology that aims at challenging any attempt to describe complex thinking and flexible behavior as mere by-products of internal cognitive activity. Ecological approaches in psychology typically provide a powerful and coherent...



I am deeply indebted to Julian Kiverstein and John Sutton for their continuous guidance and invaluable support throughout my doctoral studies. My warmest gratitude also goes to Andy Clark and Richard Menary for their stimulating feedback on earlier drafts of this review. Thanks also to Joel Krueger for the precious assistance through the editorial process. Last but not least, I would like to express my appreciation to the ARC Centre of Excellence in Cognition and its Disorders (CCD) and to Macquarie University for generously financing my research. Needless to say, any remaining errors are mine and mine alone.


  1. Barton, R. A. (2006). Primate brain evolution: integrating comparative, neuropsychological and ethological data. Evolutionary Anthropology, 15, 224–236.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Blessing, W. (1997). The lower brainstem and bodily homeostasis. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Brothers, L., Ring, B., & Kling, A. (1992). Response in neurons in the macaque amygdala to complex social stimuli. Behavioral Brain Research, 41, 199–213.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Byrne, R. W., & Bates, L. (2006). Why are animals cognitive? Current Biology, 16, R445–R448.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Clark, A. (1997). Being there: putting brain, body, and world together again. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  6. Clark, A. (2008). Supersizing the mind: embodiment, action and cognitive extension. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Cosmides, L., & Tooby, J. (1992). The adapted mind: evolutionary psychology and the generation of culture. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Datson, L., & Mitman, G. (2005). Thinking with animals: new perspectives on anthropomorphism. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  9. Fodor, J. A. (1975). The language of thought. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  10. Fodor, J. A. (2008). LOT2: the language of thought revisited. USA: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  11. Gaukroger, S., Schuster, J., Sutton, J. (2000). Descartes’ Natural Philosophy. Routledge.Google Scholar
  12. Gauthier, I., Skudlaski, P., Gore, J. C., & Anderson, A. W. (2000). Expertise for cars and birds recruits brain areas involved in face recognition. Nature Neuroscience, 3, 191–197.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Gibson, J. J. (1979). The ecological approach to visual perception. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.Google Scholar
  14. Grey Walter, W. (1951). A machine that learns. Scientific American, 185, 60–63.Google Scholar
  15. Grey Walter, W. (1953). The living brain. New York: W.W. Norton.Google Scholar
  16. Guthrie, S. E. (1997). Anthropomorphism: a definition and a theory. In R. W. Mitchell, N. S. Thompson, & H. L. Miles (Eds.), Anthropomorphism, anecdotes, and animals (pp. 50–58). Albany: State University New York Press.Google Scholar
  17. Heidegger, M. (1962). Being and Time. London: SCM.Google Scholar
  18. Holland, O. (2003). The first biologically inspired robot. Robotica, 21, 351–363.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Horowitz, A. (2007). Anthropomorphism. In M. Bekoff (Ed.), Encyclopedia of human-animal relationships (pp. 60–66). Westport: Greenwood Publishing Group.Google Scholar
  20. Iriki, A., Tanaka, M., & Iwamura, Y. (1996). Coding of modified body schema during tool use by macaque postcentral neurones. NeuroReport, 7, 2325–2330.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Kanwisher, N., McDermott, J., & Chun, M. (1997). The fusiform face area: a module in human extrastriate cortex specialised for the perception of faces. Journal of Neuroscience, 17, 4302–4311.Google Scholar
  22. Kiverstein, J., & Farina, M. (2011). Integration and the extended mind thesis (Provisional Title) (in press).Google Scholar
  23. MacLean, P. D. (1949). Psychosomatic disease and the ‘visceral brain’: recent developments bearing on the Papez theory of emotion. Psychosomatic Medicine, 11, 338–353.Google Scholar
  24. Maravita, A., & Iriki, A. (2004). Tools for the body (schema). Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 8, 79–86.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Marr, D. C. (1982). Vision: a computational investigation into the human representation and processing of visual information. New York: Freeman.Google Scholar
  26. Menary, R. (2007). Cognitive integration: mind and cognition unbounded. New York: Palgrave Macmillian.Google Scholar
  27. Merleau-Ponty, M. (1962). Phenomenology of perception. New York: Humanities Press.Google Scholar
  28. Myers, B. (10 June 2008). “Why we are all animal lovers”. The Guardian. Retrieved 6 May 2010.Google Scholar
  29. Patten, F. (2006). Furry! The world's best anthropomorphic fiction. ibooks. pp. 427–436.Google Scholar
  30. Perrett, D. I. (1999). A cellular basis for reading minds from faces and actions. In M. Hauser & M. Konishi (Eds.), Behavioral and neural mechanisms of communication (pp. 159–185). Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  31. Pinker, S. (2003). How the mind works. London: Penguin.Google Scholar
  32. Poggio, T. (1981). Marr’s computational approach to vision. Trends in Neurosciences, 10, 258–262.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Ross, P. (2007). Extraordinary animals: an encyclopedia of curious and unusual animals. Westport: Greenwood Publishing Group.Google Scholar
  34. Rowlands, M. (1999). The body in mind: understanding cognitive processes. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Rowlands, M. (2006). Against methodological solipsism: the ecological approach. Philosophical Psychology, 8(1), 5–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Rowlands, M. (2010). The new science of the mind: from extended mind to embodied phenomenology. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  37. Rupert, R. (2009). Cognitive systems and the extended mind. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Shapiro, L. (2010). James Bond and the barking dog: evolution and extended cognition. Philosophy of Science, 77, 400–418.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Sutton, J. (1998). Philosophy and memory traces: Descartes to connectionism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  40. Sutton, J. (2010). Exograms and interdisciplinarity: history, the extended mind, and the civilizing process. In R. Menary (Ed.), The extended mind. (pp. 189–225). Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  41. Thelen, E., & Smith, L. (1994). A dynamic systems approach to the development of cognition and action. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  42. Van Gelder, T. (1995). What might cognition be, if not computation? Journal of Philosophy, 92, 435–381.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Von Uexküll, J. (1957). A stroll through the worlds of animals and men. In C. H. Shiller & K. S. Lashley (Eds.), Instinctive behavior: the development of a modern concept (pp. 5–82). Madison: International Universities Press. Original work published in 1934.Google Scholar
  44. Wheeler, M. (2005). Reconstructing the cognitive world: the next step. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  45. Wilcox, S., & Jackson, R. (2002). Jumping spider tricksters. In M. Bekoff, C. Allen, & G. M. Burghardt (Eds.), The cognitive animal: empirical and theoretical perspectives on animal cognition (pp. 27–34). Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.ARC Centre of Excellence in Cognition and its Disorders (CCD), Institute of Human Cognition and Brain Science (IHCBS)Macquarie UniversitySydneyAustralia

Personalised recommendations