Cognitive science/Bibliography

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A list of key readings about Cognitive science.
Please sort and annotate in a user-friendly manner. For formatting, consider using automated reference wikification.


  • Sterelny,K. (2001) The evolution of agency and other essays. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0521645379 (pbk), ISBN 9780521645379 (pbk), ISBN 9780521642316 (hc).
    • Description: This book presents a collection of linked essays written by one of the leading philosophers of biology, Kim Sterelny, on the topic of biological evolution. The first half of the book explores most of the main theoretical controversies about evolution and selection. Sterelny argues that genes are not the only replicators: non-genetic inheritance is also extremely important, and is no mere epiphenomenon of gene selection. The second half of the book applies some of these ideas in considering cognitive evolution. Concentrating on the mental capacities of simpler animals rather than those of humans, Sterelny argues for a general distinction between detection and representation, and that the evolution of belief, like that of representation, can be decoupled from the evolution of preference. These essays, some never before published, form a coherent whole that defends not just an overall conception of evolution, but also a distinctive take on cognitive evolution.
    • Contents: Part I. Overview: 1. Evolution and agency: a user's guide; Part II. Replication and Interaction: 2. Return of The Gene (with Philip Kitcher); 3. The Extended Replicator (with Kelly Smith and Mike Dickison); 4. The return of the group; Part III. Evolution and Macroevolution: 5. Punctuated equilibrium and macroevolution; 6. Explanatory pluralism in evolutionary biology; 7. Darwin's tangled bank; Part IV. The Descent of the Mind: 8. Where does thinking come from? a commentary on Peter Godfrey Smith's Complexity and the Function of Mind in Nature; 9. Basic minds; 10. Intentional agency and the metarepresentation hypothesis; 11. Situated agency and the descent of desire; 12. The evolution of agency.
  • Ray Jackendoff. (1987) Consciousness and the Computational Mind. A Bradford Book, The MIT Press: Cambridge, Massachusetts. ISBN 0-262-10037-1 (hbk).
    • Excerpt: Two senses of the words "mind" and "mental" are in use today. One, which might be called the phenomenological notion of mind, pertains to the mind as the seat of conscious awareness the experiencing of the world and of our own inner lives that each of us carries on, inaccessible to others. The other, which I will call the computational notion of mind, treats the mind as an information-bearing and information-processing system. The mind in this sense acts as the locus of understanding, knowledge, reasoning, and intelligence.
  • Derek Melser. (2004) The Act of Thinking. MIT Press. TOC and link to PDF of Introduction: Is Thinking a Natural Process, or Is It an Action? | Derek Melser received his Ph.D. in Philosophy from Massey University in New Zealand.
    • From the publishers summary: [Melser] examines the developmental role of concerted activity, the token performance of concerted activity, the functions of speech, the mechanics and uses of covert tokening, empathy, the origins of solo action, the actional nature of perception, and various kinds and aspects of mature thinking. In addition, he analyzes the role of metaphors in the folk notion of mind.
  • Heyes CM Huber L. (2000) The evolution of cognition. MIT Press. ISBN 9780262082860. | Google Books preview.
    • A collection of articles by 29 authors, constituting a kind of "debate" about the evolution of cognition.

Journal articles

  • Barsalou LW. (2008) Grounded cognition Annu.Rev.Psychol. 59:617-645. PMID 17705682.
    • Grounded cognition rejects traditional views that cognition is computation on amodal symbols in a modular system, independent of the brain's modal systems for perception, action, and introspection. Instead, grounded cognition proposes that modal simulations, bodily states, and situated action underlie cognition. Accumulating behavioral and neural evidence supporting this view is reviewed from research on perception, memory, knowledge, language, thought, social cognition, and development. Theories of grounded cognition are also reviewed, as are origins of the area and common misperceptions of it. Theoretical, empirical, and methodological issues are raised whose future treatment is likely to affect the growth and impact of grounded cognition.
  • Penn DC, Holyoak KJ, Povinelli DJ. (2008) Darwin's mistake: explaining the discontinuity between human and nonhuman minds. Behav Brain Sci 31:109-30.
    • From the Abstract: Over the last quarter century, the dominant tendency in comparative cognitive psychology has been to emphasize the similarities between human and nonhuman minds and to downplay the differences as "one of degree and not of kind" (Darwin 1871). In the present target article, we argue that Darwin was mistaken: the profound biological continuity between human and nonhuman animals masks an equally profound discontinuity between human and nonhuman minds…We conclude by suggesting that recent symbolic-connectionist models of cognition shed new light on the mechanisms that underlie the gap between human and nonhuman minds.