Procedural and Declarative Knowledge: An Evolutionary Perspective

Timon Ten Berge, R.W.J.V. van Hezewijk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


It appears that there are resemblances in the organization of memory and the visual system, although the functions of these faculties differ considerably. In this article, the principles behind this organization are discussed. One important principle regards the distinction between declarative and procedural knowledge, between knowing that and knowing how. Declarative knowledge is considered here not as an alternative kind of knowledge, as is usually the case in theories of memory, but as part of procedural knowledge. In our view this leads to another approach with respect to the distinction. Declarative knowledge has occupied more attention in (cognitive) psychological research than can be justified on the basis of the importance of procedural knowledge for behavior. We also discuss the question whether there are other brain faculties that reflect the same organizational characteristics. We conclude with some speculations about the consequent role of consciousness in such a tentative model.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)605-624
Number of pages20
JournalTheory & Psychology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • declarative knowledge
  • evolutionary psychology
  • memory
  • procedural knowledge
  • vision
  • affordance


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