A blog about problems in the field of psychology and attempts to fix them.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Beyond the Brain: Review out

I still owe two more posts on Barrett's book, but I have more pressing matters, including the start of the semester and preparing a conference presentation due this weekend. While gathering material for my presentation, I was excited to see that my much more concise review of the book was just published! I am never too sure about how many people read these things, but hopefully it will inspire a few more people to check out the book. Here is the basic info:
Embodied, embedded, and extended cognition without anthropomorphism.
PsycCRITIQUES, Vol 57(3), 2012, No Pagination Specified. doi: 10.1037/a0026061



Reviews the book, Beyond the brain: How body and environment shape animal and human minds by Louise Barrett (see record 2011-08671-000 ). This book provides an approachable explanation of the movements that seem increasingly likely to dominate the future of psychology—an “embodied cognition” that will embrace dynamic systems theory and recognize the importance of environmental context. This will be a truly “comparative” psychology, one that is open to evidence from research with adult humans, children and infants, other animals, robots, and computer simulation. The book targets an educated lay audience and a scientific audience, and it is in the reviewer's opinion well written enough to warrant being kept on an accessible shelf. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)

I'm still trying to figure out how much of a published paper I feel comfortable putting up on this blog, so I will just give the conclusion here: 

I am jealous of this book, especially of the first half. It is so well written. Barrett picks exactly the right examples and weaves them together in exactly the right ways. Although there are things that could have been added and sections that could have been tweaked to produce a more forcefully consistent and hard-lined position, only very picky readers will find fault. It is clear that Barrett has put great care into the construction of Beyond the Brain, and her success should be rewarded by a wide readership.


  1. Just said goodbye to five pizzas...

  2. Do grad students think about book prices in terms of pizzas these days?

  3. It is just my variation on the Big Mac index, given that I like pizzas much more than Big Macs. And naturally, this all has Maslowian overtones.

  4. I approve entirely of your conclusion. It's exactly how I felt too.

  5. i screamed at this book several times it was so flawed

  6. Anonymous.... thanks for all the details. So we can possibly have a conversation, what were some of the points that most aggravated you?