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Can people really do two things at once? In some sense, the obvious answer is "yes, of course." In others, it is not entirely clear. The extent to which multiple tasks interfere is clearly related to whether those tasks require the same cognitive-perceptual-motor resources. With ACT-R, we have been able to show that even if the central cognitive system is single-channel, it is possible to achieve very little cross-task interference.
Anderson, J. R., Taatgen, N. A., & Byrne, M. D. (2005). Learning to achieve perfect time sharing: Architectural implications of Hazeltine, Teague, & Ivry (2002). Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 31, 749-761. [PDF]
Byrne, M. D., & Anderson, J. R. (2001). Serial modules in parallel: The psychological refractory period and perfect time-sharing. Psychological Review, 108, 847-869.
We have an active interest not just in ACT-R, but in cognitive architectures and other formal (i.e., mathematical/computational) methodolgies in general and how they can be used in human factors/HCI.
Byrne, M. D. (in press). Cognitive architectures. To appear in A. Sears & J. Jacko (Eds.), The human-computer interaction handbook (2nd ed.). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
Byrne, M. D. (in press). Local theories vs. comprehensive architectures: The cognitive science jigsaw puzzle. To appear in W. Gray (Ed.) Integrated Models of Cognitive Systems. New York: Oxford University Press.
Byrne, M. D. (2005). Cognitive architectures in HCI: Present work and future directions. In Proceedings of Human-Computer International 2005. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum. [PDF]
Byrne, M. D., & Gray, W. D. (2003). Returning human factors to an engineering discipline: Expanding the science base through a new generation of quantitative methods—preface to the special section. Human Factors, 45, 1-4. [PDF]
See this link for an ACT-R timing module based on the Attentional Gate Model
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Last modified 2006.07.17