Varieties of artifacts: embodied, perceptual, cognitive, and affective

Richard Heersmink

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


The primary goal of this essay is to provide a comprehensive overview and analysis of the various relations between material artifacts and the embodied mind. A secondary goal of this essay is to identify some of the trends in the design and use of artifacts. First, based on their functional properties, I identify four categories of artifacts co-opted by the embodied mind, namely (a) embodied artifacts, (b) perceptual artifacts, (c) cognitive artifacts, and (d) affective artifacts. These categories can overlap and so some artifacts are members of more than one category. I also identify some of the techniques (or skills) we use when interacting with artifacts. Identifying these categories of artifacts and techniques allows us to map the landscape of relations between embodied minds and the artifactual world. Second, having identified categories of artifacts and techniques, this essay then outlines some of the trends in the design and use of artifacts, focusing on neuroprosthetics, brain-computer interfaces, and personalization algorithms nudging their users toward particular epistemic paths of information consumption.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)573-596
Number of pages24
JournalTopics in Cognitive Science
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Affect
  • Affective artifact
  • Algorithms
  • Artificial intelligence
  • Cognition
  • Cognitive artifact
  • Embodied artifact
  • Embodiment
  • Interaction
  • Perception
  • Perceptual artifact
  • Situated cognition

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