The cognitive cost of extending an evolutionary mind into the environment

Mitch Parsell*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Clark and Chalmers (1998) have argued that mental states can be extended outside an organism's skin. In response to some worries about the availability, reliability and portability of such extended resources, Clark (2005) offers a set of rough criteria that non-biological objects must fulfil to legitimately ground mental states. One such criterion is that the information retrieved from these non-biological sources be (more or less) automatically endorsed. But Sterelny (2003, 2005) has persuasively argued that the extended sphere is epistemologically opaque: a domain of contested truth and deliberate deception. As such, retrieving information from this domain requires the deployment of social guards for the information to remain reliable. But deploying such guards would seem to endanger endorsability by increasing cognitive load. Here I demonstrate that deploying social guards does not increase cognitive load if the guards are implemented in a highly distributed connectionist economy or off-loaded to the external environment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-10
Number of pages8
JournalCognitive Processing
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2006


  • Connectionism
  • Evolution
  • Extended mind


Dive into the research topics of 'The cognitive cost of extending an evolutionary mind into the environment'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this