ERIC Number: EJ1025657
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2014-Mar
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
Discovering the Sequential Structure of Thought
Anderson, John R.; Fincham, Jon M.
Cognitive Science, v38 n2 p322-352 Mar 2014
Multi-voxel pattern recognition techniques combined with Hidden Markov models can be used to discover the mental states that people go through in performing a task. The combined method identifies both the mental states and how their durations vary with experimental conditions. We apply this method to a task where participants solve novel mathematical problems. We identify four states in the solution of these problems: Encoding, Planning, Solving, and Respond. The method allows us to interpret what participants are doing on individual problem-solving trials. The duration of the planning state varies on a trial-to-trial basis with novelty of the problem. The duration of solution stage similarly varies with the amount of computation needed to produce a solution once a plan is devised. The response stage similarly varies with the complexity of the answer produced. In addition, we identified a number of effects that ran counter to a prior model of the task. Thus, we were able to decompose the overall problem-solving time into estimates of its components and in way that serves to guide theory.
Descriptors: Cognitive Structures, Pattern Recognition, Markov Processes, Cognitive Processes, Problem Solving, Novelty (Stimulus Dimension), Mathematical Applications, Planning, Responses, Computation, Difficulty Level, Time
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
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