5 February 2012

Distributed cognition and memory research: How do distributed memory systems work?

Special issue of the Review of Philosophy and Psychology
Guest editors: Kourken Michaelian and John Sutton

Call for Papers
Deadline for submissions: July 15, 2012

According to the extended mind hypothesis in philosophy of cognitive science and the related distributed cognition hypothesis in cognitive anthropology, remembering does not always occur entirely inside the brain but can also be distributed across heterogeneous systems combining neural, bodily, social, and technological resources. Much of the critical debate on these ideas in philosophy has so far remained at some distance from relevant empirical studies. But claims about extended mind and distributed cognition, if they are to deserve wider acceptance, must both make sense of and, in turn, inform work in the cognitive and social sciences. Is the notion of extended or distributed remembering consistent with the findings of empirical memory research? Can such a view of memory usefully inform empirical work, suggesting further areas of productive enquiry or helping to
make sense of existing findings?

This special issue will bring together supporters and critics of extended and distributed cognition to consider memory as a test case for evaluating and further developing these hypotheses. Submitted papers should thus address both memory and distributed cognition/extended mind: ideally, papers should aim simultaneously to make contributions to relevant debates in both philosophy and psychology or other relevant empirical fields. While primarily theoretical papers are welcome, they should make direct contact with empirical findings.  Similarly, while empirically oriented papers might draw on evidence from a range of areas, including the cognitive psychology of transactive memory and collaborative recall, cognitive anthropology and cognitive ethnography, science studies and the philosophy of science, the history of memory practices, and the cognitive archaeology of material culture, they should seek to advance the theoretical debate over extended mind and distributed cognition, rather than simply presenting findings from these fields.

Potential topics include (but are not limited to):

Relations between biological memory and external memory
How do forms of representation and storage in neural and external memory differ, and why do such differences matter? Can theories of distributed cognition deal with the existence of multiple memory systems? For example, does the expert deployment of exograms in certain external symbol systems affect working memory? How might the development and operation of distributed memory systems affect neural memory processes? Is evidence for neuroplasticity relevant for assessing claims about distributed remembering? Given plausible links between memory and self, what might distributed memory systems imply about identity and agency? What happens when distributed memory systems fail or break down?

How do distributed memory systems work?
What is socially distributed remembering, and does it offer any support to revived ideas about group cognition, or to a naturalized understanding of collective memory? Can theories of extended or distributed cognition encompass socially distributed remembering in addition to artifacts and other forms of memory scaffolding? What are the implications of experimental studies of collaborative recall and transactive memory for theories of distributed cognition? How do such theories deal with memory practices and rituals and with the roles of the non-symbolic material environment?

Distributed memory and embodied cognition
How central in theories of extended or distributed memory should be the study of skill acquisition and of expertise in the deployment of external resources? What accounts of embodied skills, procedural memory, and smooth or absorbed coping are required to support such theories? How do distributed memory systems work in specific contexts of embodied interaction, from conversation to music, dance, performance, and sport?

Guest authors
The issue will include invited articles authored by:
Robert Rupert, University of Colorado (Boulder)
Deborah Tollefsen, University of Memphis
Rick Dale, University of California (Merced)
Mike Wheeler, University of Stirling

Important dates
Submission deadline: July 15, 2012
Target publication date: December 15, 2012

How to submit
Prospective authors should register at: 
www.editorialmanager.com/ropp to obtain a login and select Distributed cognition and memory research as an article type. Manuscripts should be approximately 6,000 words. Submissions should follow the author guidelines available on the journal's web site.

About the journal
The Review of Philosophy and Psychology (ISSN: 1878-5158; eISSN: 1878-5166) is a peer-reviewed journal published quarterly by Springer and focusing on philosophical and foundational issues in cognitive science. The aim of the journal is to provide a forum for discussion on topics of mutual interest to philosophers and psychologists and to foster interdisciplinary research at the crossroads of philosophy and the sciences of the mind, including the neural, behavioural and social sciences. The journal publishes theoretical works grounded in empirical research as well as empirical articles on issues of philosophical relevance. It includes thematic issues featuring invited contributions from leading authors together with articles answering a call for paper.

For any queries, please email the guest editors:
kmichaelian@bilkent.edu.tr, john.sutton@mq.edu.au

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