The Multitasking Mind

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The Multitasking Mind

OXFORD SERIES ON
COGNITIVE MODELS AND ARCHITECTURES

Series Editor
Frank E. Ritter
Series Board
Rich Carlson
Gary Cottrell
Pat Langley
Richard M. Young

Principles of Synthetic Intelligence: Psi:
An Architecture of Motivated Cognition
By Joscha Bach
Integrated Models of Cognitive Systems
Edited by Wayne D. Gray
In Order to Learn: How the Sequence of
Topics Influences Learning
Edited by Frank E. Ritter, Josef Nerb, Erno Lehtinen,
and Timothy M. O’Shea
How Can the Human Mind Occur
in the Physical Universe?
By John R. Anderson

The Multitasking Mind

Dario D. Salvucci and
Niels A. Taatgen

1
2011

1
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Copyright © 2011 by Dario Salvucci and Niels Taatgen
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Salvucci, Dario D.
The multitasking mind / Dario D. Salvucci, Niels A. Taatgen. p. cm. — (Oxford series on cognitive models and architectures) Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN: 978–0–19–973356–9 (hardback)
1. Human multitasking. 2. Time management. I. Taatgen, Niels A. II. Title. HD69.T54S25 2010
650.1'1—dc22
2010026119

987654321
Printed in the United States of America
on acid-free paper

To Laura and Steffi

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Preface

This book presents the theory of threaded cognition, a theory of the workings of the multitasking mind. The collaboration leading up to this book began in 2005, when each of us was developing a separate computational account of human multitasking (Salvucci, 2005; Taatgen, 2005). Our individual approaches had some successes, but also some limitations, inspiring us to work together to find a more complete theory that unified the best aspects of each approach. This work led to our first description of threaded cognition (Salvucci & Taatgen, 2008) focused on concurrent multitasking—doing multiple tasks at the same time. Using this work as a basis, we further developed an account of sequential multitasking— alternating between multiple tasks, such as during an interruption—and revisited Niels’ account of multitask learning to reframe it in the context of the new theory. This book aims to describe threaded cognition, its theoretical foundations, and its applications to empirical phenomena in a single, accessible volume.

Because our central purpose is to present the theory of threaded cognition, the book does not attempt to cover comprehensively the bountiful research efforts related to multitasking and its conceptual cousins (attention, cognitive control, etc.). Other recent volumes (e.g., Kramer, Wiegmann, & Kirlik, 2007; Wickens & McCarley, 2007) have served this purpose admirably, and we did not wish to duplicate these efforts. Also, the book is not intended to be a trade book with very broad but highlevel coverage of multitasking phenomena. Nevertheless, it is critical that we relate our theory both to existing research and to everyday issues

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Preface

and questions. We have thus structured the book to include these aspects: each chapter begins with general...
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