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The time course of routine action

Ruh, N. and Cooper, Richard P. and Mareschal, Denis (2005) The time course of routine action. In: 27th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society, July 21-23, 2005, Stresa, Italy.


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Previous studies of action selection in routinized tasks have used error rates as their sole dependent measure (e.g. Reason, 1979; Schwartz et al., 1998). Consequently, conclusions about the underlying mechanisms of correct behavior are necessarily indirect. The present experiment examines the performance of normal subjects in the prototypical coffee task (Botvinick & Plaut, 2004) when carried out in a virtual environment on screen. This has the advantage of (a) constraining the possible errors more tightly than a real world environment, and (b) giving access to latencies as an additional, finer grained measure of performance. We report error data and timing of action selection at the crucial branching points for the production of routinized task sequences both with and without a secondary task. Processing branching points leads to increased latencies. The presence of the secondary task has a greater effect on latencies at branching points than at equivalent non-branching points. Furthermore, error data and latencies dissociate, suggesting that the exact timing is a valid and valuable source of information when trying to understand the processes that govern routine tasks. The results of the experiment are discussed in relation to their implication for computational accounts of routine action selection.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Additional Information: Copyright retained by the authors and publishers. Edited by Bruno G. Bara, Lawrence Barsalou, & Monica Bucciarelli © 2005 by the Cognitive Science Society, Inc. All rights of reproduction in any form reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form, by photostat, microform, retrieval system, or by any other means, without the prior written permission of the publisher.
School or Research Centre: Birkbeck Schools and Research Centres > School of Science > Psychological Sciences
Depositing User: Sandra Plummer
Date Deposited: 20 Nov 2007 13:15
Last Modified: 17 Apr 2013 12:33

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