Explaining enculturated cognition

Regina E. Fabry*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference proceeding contributionpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Many of our cognitive capacities are shaped by enculturation. Enculturation is the temporally extended transformative acquisition of cognitive practices such as reading, writing, and mathematics. They are embodied and normatively constrained ways to interact with epistemic resourcs (e.g., writing systems, number systems). Enculturation is associated with significant changes of the organization and connectivity of the brain and of the functional profiles of embodied actions and motor programs. Furthermore, it has a socio-culturally structured dimension, because it relies on cumulative cultural evolution and on the socially distributed acquisition of cultural norms governing the engagement with epistemic resources. This paper argues that we need distinct, yet complementary levels of explanation and corresponding temporal scales. This leads to explanatory pluralism about enculturated cognition, which is the view that we need multiple perspectives and explanatory strategies to account for the complexity of enculturation.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 39th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society
EditorsGlenn Gunzelmann, Andrew Howes, Thora Tenbrink, Eddy Davelaar
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherCognitive Science Society
Number of pages6
ISBN (Electronic)9780991196760
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes
EventAnnual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society (39th : 2017) - London, United Kingdom
Duration: 26 Jul 201729 Jul 2017


ConferenceAnnual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society (39th : 2017)
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


  • enculturation
  • neural plasticity
  • neural reuse
  • embodied cognition
  • cognitive niche construction
  • cumulative cultural evolution
  • cultural learning
  • reading acquisition
  • explanatory pluralism


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