Academic journal article Canadian Psychology

Intention and Strategic Control: The 1992 Banff Annual Seminar in Cognitive Science

Academic journal article Canadian Psychology

Intention and Strategic Control: The 1992 Banff Annual Seminar in Cognitive Science

Article excerpt

The Banff Annual Seminar in Cognitive Science (BASICS) has met each year since 1982 in Banff, Alberta. BASICS is a small conference in which six invited speakers present full, colloquium - length talks, followed by extensive discussion and interaction with the other conference participants. The talks this year, as in previous years, covered a wide range of issues, problems, and paradigms. However, a common thread can be identified in all of the presentations: Each speaker was concerned in one way or another with strategy and intention as an explanatory variable. This concern was clearest in the presentation by Jeff Bisanz. A central issue in theories of mental computation is the problem size effect; arithmetic problems with larger numbers take longer to solve. Bisanz offered compelling evidence that this effect in mental addition is largely an artifact of trial - by - trial variation in the strategy used to solve the problem. When this variation in strategy is accounted for, there is virtually no effect of problem size on the time needed to retrieve an answer from long - term memory.

While Bisanz's talk focussed on trial - by - trial variation in processing, Pierre Jolicoeur's talk concerned stimulus - to - stimulus variation. One aspect of Pierre Jolicoeur's talk involved the description of the task and stimulus variables that determine the way in which object depictions at various orientations are identified. His research distinguishes two types of latency functions that are obtained in object recognition: an inverted V shape, in which the slowest times occur with upside - down objects, and an M shape, in which upside - down objects are faster than less extreme orientations. The focus of Jolicoeur's research project is identifying the processes that lead to these different patterns, and how they are elicited by characteristics of the object and its depiction.

Of all of the presentations at BASICS, Larry Jacoby's was the most clearly concerned with the crucial role of intention in determining the nature of processing. He described a simple procedure for disentangling the contribution of intentional uses of memory and unintentional (unconscious) uses of memory in implicit memory tests. In essence, the procedure involves comparing two memory tasks: one in which subjects intentionally use any memories they are consciously aware of, and one in which subjects intentionally ignore any memories they are consciously aware of. …

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