the cedar ledge

The Room as an Extension of the Mind

Date: April 28 2020

Summary: Working thought on how a person's environment can function as an extension of one's mental processes. Could possibly lead to decrease in cognitive loading.

Keywords: ##zettel #memory #mind #mental #smoking #jar #mess #corning #mapping #cognitive #load #archive


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Table of Contents

  1. How To Cite
  2. References
  3. Discussion:

I have often heard it said that a room or home reflects a person's state of mind. Ideally, a well-organized mind should map to a nicely ordered room and the logical contrapositive of that statement follows suit. However, what is not immediately understood is the notion of a room or house being an extension of that person's mental processes.

For example, a smoker who is attempting to quit smoking often is taught many different sorts of ways to handle cessation. Two such ideas are the notions of a "butt jar" and a "savings jar". These are two actual jars that quitters set-up in their home to reinforce the idea of quitting. The "butt jar" contains the butts of cigarettes one smokes with graphic imagery of cancerous organs to associate adverse events with smoking more clearly. The other "savings jar" is a reward system where quitters put the money they would have spent on smoking into the jar. They then can use this money for whatever pleasurable or fun activity they please.

Here, the jars work as a physical extension of the mind. Furthermore, I once had a professor named Debra Dudick at Corning Community College. Her desk was an absolute mess covered with stacks of papers and books everywhere. A little nook in the corner of her desk was carved out for her computer. Yet, she knew where every single file, book, or reference that she needed was despite the mess. And as the chair of the Engineering Department, she needed speed in her work.

Somehow, her mind made disparate associations across her desk that actually helped her find what she was looking for. One could reason that due to the extra labor it took to sift through materials, her mind automatically made connections between object and place to facilitate easier finding. This is in opposition to the idea of having everything clean. Instead, the desk became an external mapping of her mind that was only activated when needed.

The question remains if this is a viable means to extending human thought and to decrease cognitive load. The human mind is not neatly organized, rather, much like an unkempt desk, its connections are far and wide across the brain. So why do we attempt to force our environment in this way?

How To Cite

Zelko, Jacob. The Room as an Extension of the Mind. April 28 2020.



CC BY-SA 4.0 Jacob Zelko. Last modified: January 17, 2023. Website built with Franklin.jl and the Julia programming language.