Four-E (4E) Cognition


Attending simultaneously to the embodied, embedded, enactive, and extended aspects of cognition

Principal Metaphors

  • Knowledge is … the scope of possible action and interpretation
  • Knowing is … doing, being
  • Learner is … a perceiver/interpreter (individual)
  • Learning is … creating; bringing forth (to meet to demands of a situation)
  • Teaching is … coupled participation




The four E’s of 4E Cognition stand for embodied, embedded, enactive, and extended. 4E Cognition is a perspective on cognition that asserts that, to understand mind, one must look within and across the dynamic interactions of the brain, body, social environments, and physical environments.


4E Cognition isn’t so much a theory of cognition as it is a summary of contemporary Coherence Discourses.

Authors and/or Prominent Influences

Albert Newen Leon De Bruin Shaun Gallagher

Status as a Theory of Learning

4E Cognition is a theory of learning.

Status as a Theory of Teaching

4E Cognition is not a theory of teaching.

Status as a Scientific Theory

4E Cognition is a young, but scientifically robust perspective and movement.

Map Location

Please cite this article as:
Davis, B., & Francis, K. (2020). “Four-E (4E) Cognition” in Discourses on Learning in Education.

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