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Psychology is now ready for unified theories of cognition—so says Allen Newell, a leading investigator in computer science and cognitive psychology. Not everyone will agree on a single set of mechanisms that will explain the full range of human cognition, but such theories are within reach and we should strive to articulate them.
In this book, Newell makes the case for unified theories by setting forth a candidate. After reviewing the foundational concepts of cognitive science—knowledge, representation, computation, symbols, architecture, intelligence, and search—Newell introduces Soar, an architecture for general cognition. A pioneer system in artificial intelligence, Soar is the first problem solver to create its own subgoals and learn continuously from its own experience.
Newell shows how Soar's ability to operate within the real-time constraints of intelligent behavior, such as immediate-response and item-recognition tasks, illustrates important characteristics of the human cognitive structure. Throughout, Soar remains an exemplar: we know only enough to work toward a fully developed theory of cognition, but Soar's success so far establishes the viability of the enterprise.
Given its integrative approach, Unified Theories of Cognition will be of tremendous interest to researchers in a variety of fields, including cognitive science, artificial intelligence, psychology, and computer science. This exploration of the nature of mind, one of the great problems of philosophy, should also transcend disciplines and attract a large scientific audience.
The Nature of Theories
What Are Unified Theories of Cognition?
Is Psychology Ready for Unified Theories?
The Task of the Book
Foundations of Cognitive Science
Machines and Computation
Search and Problem Spaces
Preparation and Deliberation
Human Cognitive Architecture
The Human Is a Symbol System
The Time Scale of Human Action
The Biological Band
The Neural Circuit Level
The Real-Time Constraint on Cognition
The Cognitive Band
The Level of Simple Operations
The First Level of Composed Operations
The Intendedly Rational Band
Higher Bands: Social, Historical, and Evolutionary
Symbolic Processing for Intelligence
The Central Architecture for Performance
The Total Cognitive System
RI-Soar: Knowledge-Intensive and Knowledge-Lean Operation
Designer-Soar: Difficult Intellectual Tasks
Soar as an Intelligent System
Mapping Soar onto Human Cognition
Soar and the Shape of Human Cognition
The Scientific Role of Immediate-Response Data
Functional Analysis of Immediate Responses
The Simplest Response Task (SRI)
The Two-Choice Response Task (2CRT)
Stimulus-Response Compatibility (SRC)
Discussion of the Three Analyses
Memory, Learning, and Skill
The Memory and Learning Hypothesis of Soar
The Soar Qualitative Theory of Learning
The Distinction between Episodic and Semantic Memory
Short-Term Memory (STM)
Intendedly Rational Behavior
Along the Frontiers
The Biological Band
The Social Band
The Role of Applications
How to Move toward Unified Theories of Cognition