Gordon Logan, Professor of Psychology, Vanderbilt University


Gordon Logan, Professor of Psychology, Vanderbilt University

SAGE 4101

September 11, 2019 12:00 PM - 1:30 PM

Everything we think and do occurs in the context of other things we’ve thought and done in the past.  By thinking and acting, we create the context for our next thoughts and actions.  The things we experience are associated with context and so can be retrieved when the context repeats.  I will discuss ways in which we exploit the associations with context to let context control the flow of thought and action, arguing that contextual control is pervasive and effective.  I will document contextual control in four domains: Automaticity and skill acquisition, task switching and multitasking, typing and sequential skills, and serial recall and whole report tasks.  I will present an overarching theory of how contextual control is acquired and expressed in thought and action and discuss models derived from the theory that address each domain.  I will not challenge the idea that cognition is ultimately controlled by an omnipotent homunculus.  Instead, I will give it a powerful context retrieval mechanism that can control many aspects of thought and action without homuncular intervention.


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