Extended Cognition


Agents incorporating physical and social worlds in extended cognitive systems

Principal Metaphors

  • Knowledge is … scope of possible actions and interpretations
  • Knowing is … embodied and situated doing
  • Learner is … an individual (who doesn’t end at the skin)
  • Learning is … adding to knowing
  • Teaching is … N/A




In Extended Cognition, mental processes are seen as embodied (i.e., involving more than the brain), enacted (i.e., inseparable from doing), embedded (i.e., coupled to a context), and extended (i.e., incorporating parts of the agent’s environment).


Extended Cognition is a variety of Distributed Cognition that does not appear to offer any significant elaborations.

Authors and/or Prominent Influences

Mark Rowlands

Status as a Theory of Learning

Extended Cognition is a theory of learning.

Status as a Theory of Teaching

Extended Cognition does not wander into advice for teachers.

Status as a Scientific Theory

On its own, Extended Cognition does not appear to have a much empirical support. However, recognized as a version of Distributed Cognition, it does have a significant evidence base.

Map Location

Please cite this article as:
Davis, B., & Francis, K. (2019). “Extended Cognition” in Discourses on Learning in Education. https://learningdiscourses.com.

⇦ Back to Map
⇦ Back to List