How Does the Mind Work? Insights from Biology

Gary Marcus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Cognitive scientists must understand not just what the mind does, but how it does what it does. In this paper, I consider four aspects of cognitive architecture: how the mind develops, the extent to which it is or is not modular, the extent to which it is or is not optimal, and the extent to which it should or should not be considered a symbol-manipulating device (as opposed to, say, an eliminative connectionist network). In each case, I argue that insights from developmental and evolutionary biology can lead to substantive and important compromises in historically vexed debates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)145-172
Number of pages28
JournalTopics in Cognitive Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2009


  • Cognition
  • Cognitive architecture
  • Cognitive development
  • Connectionism
  • Domain-specificity
  • Evolutionary psychology
  • Innate
  • Language
  • Learning
  • Linguistics
  • Optimality
  • Symbol manipulation
  • Syntactic representation
  • Syntactic trees

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Artificial Intelligence


Dive into the research topics of 'How Does the Mind Work? Insights from Biology'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this