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.
Louise Barrett is Professor of Psychology and Canada Research Chair (Tier 1) in Cognition, Evolution, and Behavior at the University of Lethbridge. She is the author of Baboons and the coauthor of Cousins, Walking with Cavemen, Human Evolutionary Psychology, and Evolutionary Psychology.
"Beyond the Brain is an astonishingly good book, both substantive and fun to read. . . . Barrett re-centres the field on the study of animal cognition. I think this is an excellent decision, and not just because it allows her to tell some great animal stories. The main advantage is not narrative but substantive: her careful reconstruction of the grounds of natural cognition is simply more convincing and more relevant than even the best discussion of artificial intelligence could ever be. . . . Beyond the Brain is full of . . . interesting and heterodox discussions, and is sure to engage, enrage, and inspire in differential measure depending on the reader's theoretical proclivities."--Michael L. Anderson, Journal of Consciousness Studies
"[T]his book provides an excellent synthesis of psychology, philosophy, robotics and biology on the topic of animal and human cognition. The prose is accessible and easy to read, and Barrett effectively uses everyday examples to make theoretical and technical points clear. . . . [T]his book . . . gave me a lot of new insights. I highly recommend it to scientists and students interested in understanding animal and human minds."--Sabine Tebbich, Animal Behaviour
Table of Contents:
Chapter 1: Removing Ourselves from the Picture 1
Chapter 2: The Anthropomorphic Animal 20
Chapter 3: Small Brains, Smart Behavior 39
Chapter 4: The Implausible Nature of Portia 57
Chapter 5: When Do You Need a Big Brain? 71
Chapter 6: The Ecology of Psychology 94
Chapter 7: Metaphorical Mind Fields 112
Chapter 8: There Is No Such Thing as a Naked Brain 135
Chapter 9: World in Action 152
Chapter 10: Babies and Bodies 175
Chapter 11: Wider than the Sky 197
Another Princeton book authored or coauthored by Louise Barrett: