Insightful thinking: cognitive dynamics and material artifacts

Pragmatics and Cognition 17 (3):549-572 (2009)
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Abstract

We trace how cognition arises beyond the skin. Experimental work on insight problem solving is used to examine how external artifacts can be used to reach the goal of assembling a `cheap necklace'. Instead of asking how insight occurs `in the head', our participants in Experiment 1 can either draw solution attempts or manipulate real objects . Even though performance with real chain links is significantly more successful than on paper, access to objects does not make this insight problem simple: objects themselves do not shape cognition. This challenges extended mind views. While failure often results from the inappropriate application of hill-climbing, material artifacts can trigger solutions. In Experiment 2, we used `open link' conditions of the concretized problem to prompt participants to act . Solutions arrived via insight, serendipity, or trial-and-error. By investigating how objects are used, we show that they do more than supplement neural events. Rather, participants monitor and anticipate the effects of action within an organism-environment system. By analogy, language too draws on experience of monitoring real-time effects as bodily dynamics play out in a normative and cultural world. In engaging with public language, it is likely that verbal patterns function by constraining anticipatory cognitive processes

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References found in this work

Challenges to the hypothesis of extended cognition.Robert D. Rupert - 2004 - Journal of Philosophy 101 (8):389-428.
Cognition in the Wild.Edwin Hutchins - 1998 - Mind 107 (426):486-492.
Material symbols.Andy Clark - 2006 - Philosophical Psychology 19 (3):291-307.

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