The Agile Mind

Research output: Book/ReportBook

16 Scopus citations


This book proposes a new integrative framework for understanding and promoting creatively adaptive thinking. The mind is not only cognition, narrowly construed, but is deeply intermeshed with action, perception, and emotion. This means that optimal mental agility is realized at the dynamic intersection of environment, brain, and mind. Building on empirical research from the behavioral and brain sciences, from developmental and social psychology, and from neuropsychology, psychopathology, and allied disciplines, this book argues that understanding our agile minds requires that we go beyond dichotomous classifications of cognition as intuitive versus deliberate. When we are optimally creatively adaptive, we are able to adroitly move across not only a wide range of levels of cognitive control, but also across multiple levels of detail. Neither abstraction nor specificity, neither controlled nor automatic processes alone are what is needed. Contextually sensitive variation is essential, including rapidly intermixed modes of cognitive control, if we are to realize our fullest capacities for insightful innovation, fluent improvisation, and flexible thinking.

Original languageEnglish (US)
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages784
ISBN (Electronic)9780199918232
ISBN (Print)9780195367188
StatePublished - Jan 19 2012

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Wilma Koutstaal 2012. All rights reserved.


  • Action
  • Adaptive thinking
  • Cognition
  • Creatively adaptive
  • Emotion
  • Mental agility
  • Perception


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