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Education Bookcast

Oct 16, 2022

In this interview, I have the honour to speak with Professor Christian Lebiere, researcher in cognitive architecture, co-author of The Atomic Components of Thought, and one of the main developers of the ACT-R architecture. We talk on a range of topics relating to cognitive architecture, cognitive modelling, and psychology. My questions are listed below, by theme.

A note on cover art: this is a diagram of ACT-R version 2.0 from 1993. More modern versions of ACT-R contain somewhat different components, but we discuss this diagram in the interview so I have shared it here.

OVERVIEW. What is cognitive architecture? What is ACT-R? Why should we care?

EVIDENCE. What evidence is there for ACT-R? How much evidence is there? What sort of human activities can it model? Can it model non-goal-driven behaviours such as daydreaming, for instance? Has ACT-R been tested with people of different ages (children vs. adults vs. the elderly)? Has it been tested with people of different cultures?

SCOPE & ELEMENTS. ACT-R version 2.0 had no working memory component - why not, and what were the circumstances that led to it being introduced? How does ACT-R deal with consciousness? How is ACT-R being extended to deal with emotions?

APPLICATION. When did ACT-R become mature enough as a theory for you to move from basic science and theory-building to application? What are the educational applications of ACT-R?

PUBLIC RELATIONS. It took me over 7 years before I found out about cognitive architecture as a field. Nobody in education, or in the general public, seems to know about it, and it seems to never be mentioned by the vast majority of psychologists either. Given its achievements in modelling human cognition, why do so few people know about it?

Enjoy the episode.



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