Faculty Research and Creative Activity

Document Type


Publication Date

January 2004


In this paper I propose that the dominant form of evolutionary psychology (which I term “cognitive adaptationism”) can be improved by adopting an alternative version of the concept of mental modularity. I suggest a metaphor of mental modules as Lego blocks. The Lego blocks represent a relatively small set of elementary operations that the mind/brain can carry out. These Lego blocks are repeatedly assembled in different ways to execute a wide variety of different functions. These repeated assemblies correspond more closely to the things that cognitive adaptationists have asserted are modules. Arguments in favor of the Lego model include the fact that the localized neural systems identified in the brain appear to carry out elementary operations, rather than higherlevel functions, and the fact that evolution by natural selection occurs by the gradual modification of small-level features.


This article may not exactly replicate the final version published in the APA journal. It is not the copy of record. Final version available at http://www.akademiai.com/content/119712/?p=6232ab13b3ce48f896eedb584777c2b2&pi=2

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Psychology Commons