Cognitive Biology

Cognitive biology is an emerging science that regards natural cognition as a biological function.[1] It is based on the theoretical assumption that every organism—whether a single cell or multicellular—is continually engaged in systematic acts of cognition coupled with intentional behaviors, i.e., a sensory-motor coupling.[2] That is to say, if an organism can sense stimuli in its environment and respond accordingly, it is cognitive. Any explanation of how natural cognition may manifest in an organism is constrained by the biological conditions in which its genes survives from one generation to the next.[3] And since by Darwinian theory the species of every organism is evolving from a common root, three further elements of cognitive biology are required: (i) the study of cognition in one species of organism is useful, through contrast and comparison, to the study of another species’ cognitive abilities;[4] (ii) it is useful to proceed from organisms with simpler to those with more complex cognitive systems,[5] and (iii) the greater the number and variety of species studied in this regard, the more we understand the nature of cognition.[6]


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