Stability-Flexibility Dilemma in Cognitive Control: A Dynamical System Perspective

Sebastian Musslick, Anastasia Bizyaeva, Shamay Agaron, Naomi Leonard, Jonathan D. Cohen

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

6 Scopus citations

Abstract

Constraints on control-dependent processing have become a fundamental concept in general theories of cognition that explain human behavior in terms of rational adaptations to these constraints. However, theories miss a rationale for why such constraints would exist in the first place. Recent work suggests that constraints on the allocation of control facilitate flexible task switching at the expense of the stability needed to support goal-directed behavior in face of distraction. Here, we formulate this problem in a dynamical system, in which control signals are represented as attractors and in which constraints on control allocation limit the depth of these attractors. We derive formal expressions of the stability-flexibility tradeoff, showing that constraints on control allocation improve cognitive flexibility but impair cognitive stability. Finally, we provide evidence that human participants adapt higher constraints on the allocation of control as the demand for flexibility increases but that participants deviate from optimal constraints.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 41st Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society
Subtitle of host publicationCreativity + Cognition + Computation, CogSci 2019
PublisherThe Cognitive Science Society
Pages2420-2426
Number of pages7
ISBN (Electronic)0991196775, 9780991196777
StatePublished - 2019
Event41st Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society: Creativity + Cognition + Computation, CogSci 2019 - Montreal, Canada
Duration: Jul 24 2019Jul 27 2019

Publication series

NameProceedings of the 41st Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society: Creativity + Cognition + Computation, CogSci 2019

Conference

Conference41st Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society: Creativity + Cognition + Computation, CogSci 2019
Country/TerritoryCanada
CityMontreal
Period7/24/197/27/19

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Cognitive Neuroscience

Keywords

  • bounded rationality
  • capacity constraints
  • cognitive control
  • stability-flexibility tradeoff
  • task switching

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