Situated and Embodied Cognition and Its Relevance to Extraterrestrial Intelligence

Pauli Laine
University of Jyväskylä, Finland

David Dunér
Lund University, Sweden

Our brains and thinking are not separate from the body where it matured and the environment where it lives. Our cognitive abilities are dependent on the physiological structure and state of our body, the environmental niche (including culture), and the evolutionary history of the species. How does this affect our ways of thinking and constructing a world view of the reality around us? There have been cross-cultural studies about ways of thinking in different cultures, and comparative ethology studies behavioral differences between species. Thus, we know that different cultures have different world views, and on the other hand, many different species share similar behavioral patterns. What aspects of cognition are the most dependent on physiological and environmental variables? And what are the shared or core aspects? What kind of cognitions could evolve on habitable but very different exoplanets? This paper will chart some of these partly very hypothetical questions.


Pauli Laine was born in Jyväskylä, Finland, in 1968. He received the B.Sc. degree in software engineering from the Kymenlaakso University of Applied Sciences in 1997, as well as M.Sc. degrees in Usability from the Tampere University of Technology and Cognitive Science from the University of Jyväskylä, in 2010 and 2014, respectively. In 1997 he joined Novo Group plc as a system specialist, working with many customer projects. In 2005 he joined FDF C5 Agency as a system manager. His current duties include development of system management systems. After establishing a solid career in the ICT, he started creating careers in cognitive science and astrobiology. He started his Ph.D. studies in Cognitive Science after accomplishing M.Sc. degree in the same area in 2014. In 2013 he began astrobiology studies in the University of Turku. Shortly after this, he was invited to help create new NASA astrobiology roadmap, which was then released in 2015. He is currently Member of the ORIGINS (Origins and evolution of life on Earth and in the Universe) COST Action working group. His current research interests include early life, habitability, biosignatures, and connecting aspects of cognitive science and astrobiology in a new research area called cognitive astrobiology.