Past Event

Embodied Cognition and Prosthetics: Are Our Tools Part of Our Bodies and Minds?

October 15, 2018
4:00 PM - 6:00 PM
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Heyman Center for the Humanities (Second Floor Common Room), Columbia University, New York

Embodied cognition theorists emphasize the role of the body and the environment in constituting mental processes. By examining how our brains interact with the rest of our bodies and how our entire bodies interact with the environment, we can learn much about human behavior and the human mind. Tools can be understood as extensions of the body, and in some cases as becoming part of the body. Does our mind extend to our tools? How does this change our world? How should we understand this relationship? In order to help us think through these fascinating questions, we will hear from an archaeologist who has theorized about the evolution of this human capacity, a biomedical engineer who uses computers to make robotic prostheses more fluidly extend human bodies, and a music theorist who shows how musical instruments become part of our bodies.

This event is free and open to the public, however, registration is required via Eventbrite. Note that the Heyman Center can only be accessed via the Columbia campus, please see our detailed directions.


  • Lambros Malafouris (Johnson Research and Teaching Fellow in Creativity, Cognition and Material Culture; University of Oxford)
  • Sunil Agrawal (Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Rehabilitation/Regenerative Medicine; Columbia University)
  • Jonathan De Souza (Assistant Professor of Music Theory; University of Western Ontario)


  • Lan Li (Presidential Scholar in Society and Neuroscience, Center for Science & Society)

This event is co-sponsored by the Center for Science and Society and the Society of Fellows and Heyman Center for the Humanities.