, Volume 195, Issue 6, pp 2483–2518 | Cite as

Betwixt and between: the enculturated predictive processing approach to cognition

  • Regina E. FabryEmail author
S.I.: Predictive Brains


Many of our cognitive capacities are the result of enculturation. Enculturation is the temporally extended transformative acquisition of cognitive practices in the cognitive niche. Cognitive practices are embodied and normatively constrained ways to interact with epistemic resources in the cognitive niche in order to complete a cognitive task. The emerging predictive processing perspective offers new functional principles and conceptual tools to account for the cerebral and extra-cerebral bodily components that give rise to cognitive practices. According to this emerging perspective, many cases of perception, action, and cognition are realized by the on-going minimization of prediction error. Predictive processing provides us with a mechanistic perspective that helps investigate the functional details of the acquisition of cognitive practices. The argument of this paper is that research on enculturation and recent work on predictive processing are complementary. The main reason is that predictive processing operates at a sub-personal level and on a physiological time scale of explanation only. A complete account of enculturated cognition needs to take additional levels and temporal scales of explanation into account. This complementarity assumption leads to a new framework—enculturated predictive processing—that operates on multiple levels and temporal scales for the explanation of the enculturated predictive acquisition of cognitive practices. Enculturated predictive processing is committed to explanatory pluralism. That is, it subscribes to the idea that we need multiple perspectives and explanatory strategies to account for the complexity of enculturation. The upshot is that predictive processing needs to be complemented by additional considerations and conceptual tools to realize its full explanatory potential.


Predictive processing Enculturation Neural plasticity Cognitive practice Embodiment Scaffolded learning 



I would like to thank two anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments on this paper. Furthermore, I am grateful to Richard Menary, Thomas Metzinger, and Jakob Hohwy for various helpful discussions along the way. Part of this work was funded by the Barbara Wengeler Foundation.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Experimental Psychology and Cognitive ScienceJustus Liebig University of GiessenGiessenGermany

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