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Beyond the Brain: How Body and Environment Shape Animal and Human Minds

Barrett, Louise

68 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0691165564 / ISBN 13: 9780691165561
Published by Princeton University Press
New Condition: New Soft cover
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Num Pages: 288 pages, 14 line illus. BIC Classification: JM; PSAJ; PSVP. Category: (P) Professional & Vocational; (U) Tertiary Education (US: College). Dimension: 234 x 157 x 21. Weight in Grams: 418. . 2015. 1st Edition. Paperback. . . . . Books ship from the US and Ireland. Bookseller Inventory # V9780691165561

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Title: Beyond the Brain: How Body and Environment ...

Publisher: Princeton University Press

Binding: Soft cover

Book Condition:New

About this title


When a chimpanzee stockpiles rocks as weapons or when a frog sends out mating calls, we might easily assume these animals know their own motivations--that they use the same psychological mechanisms that we do. But as Beyond the Brain indicates, this is a dangerous assumption because animals have different evolutionary trajectories, ecological niches, and physical attributes. How do these differences influence animal thinking and behavior? Removing our human-centered spectacles, Louise Barrett investigates the mind and brain and offers an alternative approach for understanding animal and human cognition. Drawing on examples from animal behavior, comparative psychology, robotics, artificial life, developmental psychology, and cognitive science, Barrett provides remarkable new insights into how animals and humans depend on their bodies and environment--not just their brains--to behave intelligently.

Barrett begins with an overview of human cognitive adaptations and how these color our views of other species, brains, and minds. Considering when it is worth having a big brain--or indeed having a brain at all--she investigates exactly what brains are good at. Showing that the brain's evolutionary function guides action in the world, she looks at how physical structure contributes to cognitive processes, and she demonstrates how these processes employ materials and resources in specific environments.

Arguing that thinking and behavior constitute a property of the whole organism, not just the brain, Beyond the Brain illustrates how the body, brain, and cognition are tied to the wider world.

From the Inside Flap:

"Louise Barrett's latest book is a beacon of hope for anyone who worries that the study of the evolution of cognition is being reduced to nothing but sensationalistic claims about the nature of the animal mind. With delightful prose, she makes a strong case that overinflated notions regarding how human minds work have tragically distorted our view of other animals. Barrett's book is a highest-priority must read for the next generation of scientists interested in the evolution of cognition."--Daniel J. Povinelli, University of Louisiana

"A delight to read, this very ambitious book furnishes a fresh perspective on animal behavior. Barrett synthesizes a broad literature from fields as diverse as ethology, ecological psychology, artificial intelligence, robotics, and philosophy, and masterfully weaves the different strands together into an iconoclastic but coherent view of cognitive behavior. A reader could not wish for a clearer guide into this new field."--Carel van Schaik, Anthropological Institute and Museum, University of Zürich

"This is an excellent book about comparative cognition, how minds and brains evolve, and how to think about the minds of animals."--Nicola S. Clayton, University of Cambridge

"Clear and engaging, this thought-provoking book is an excellent synthesis of new directions in cognitive science and evolution. The use of everyday and humorous examples is effective, and the scholarship is impressive in its breadth and rigor, combining ideas from ecological psychology, robotics, cognitive science, and evolutionary biology. A stimulating read, it will have scientists questioning conventional wisdom about the nature of cognition and species difference."--Robert Barton, Durham University

"Arguing that observed animal behavior is substantially organized by both an organism's physical structure and environmental affordances, this book raises interesting questions about the role of cognition in behavior and the attribution of complex behaviors to cognitive processes similar to those purportedly supporting human behavior. An intriguing and engaging book."--Bennett Galef, McMaster University

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