Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


40th Annual Convention; Chicago, IL; 2014

Event Details

Previous Page


B. F. Skinner Lecture Series Paper Session #400
CE Offered: BACB

Why Brains Are Not Computers; Why Behaviorism Isn't Satanism; and Why Dolphins Are Not Aquatic Apes

Monday, May 26, 2014
2:00 PM–2:50 PM
W375e (McCormick Place Convention Center)
Area: SCI; Domain: Basic Research
CE Instructor: Timothy D. Hackenberg, Ph.D.
Chair: Timothy D. Hackenberg (Reed College)
LOUISE BARRETT (University of Lethbridge)
Louise Barrett was educated at University College London and earned a BSc in ecology and a Ph.D. in anthropology. She has conducted long-term studies of baboons and vervet monkeys in South Africa and also is interested in the behavioral ecology and psychology of human primates. She has held positions at the University of Liverpool in the United Kingdom and University of Natal in South Africa. Dr. Barrett is currently a Canada research chair in cognition, evolution, and behavior at the University of Lethbridge, Alberta. Her most recent book is Beyond the Brain: How Body and Environment Shape Animal and Human Minds.

Modern psychology has, to all intents and purposes, become synonymous with cognitive psychology, with its emphasis on the idea that the brain is some kind of computer, whose job it is to take sensory input, process information, and produce motor output. In particular, evolutionary approaches to psychology, as applied to both human and nonhuman animals, are strongly committed to this computational theory of mind, placing the brain at a remove from both the body and environment, and denying the intimate connections that exist between them. As a result, a great injustice is done to both humans and nonhuman animals: on the one hand, we fail to recognize the distinctive nature of nonhuman cognition, and on the other, we continue to promote a somewhat misleading view of human psychological capacities. Here, Dr. Barrett will suggest a more mutualistic, embodied, enactive view might allow us to ask more interesting questions about how animals of all kinds come to know their worlds, in ways that avoid both the (inevitable) anthropocentric baggage and “Cartesian disease” of the cognitivist viewpoint.

Keyword(s): nonhuman cognition



Back to Top
Modifed by Eddie Soh