Conceptual Discovery in Molecular Genetics
The study of cognitive processes underlying scientific discovery has traditionally proceeded by close examination of laboratory notebooks and post facto interviews. This process of historical reconstruction can now be supplemented by the experimental methods of cognitive psychology, which bring the cognition of scientific discovery into the laboratory. This cognitive science approach, the study of scientific reasoning, is exemplified in the recent important research of Kevin Dunbar, as described in the present chapter.
The logic underlying Dunbar's interesting research is first to provide experimental subjects with the same knowledge that molecular genetic scientists possess just prior to their discoveries, then to pose a problem of discovering mechanisms of genetic control, and then to observe how strategies of experimentation and hypothesis formation facilitated or inhibited problem solution. Dunbar ( 1993) presents the following overview of his important cognitive science research: