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Psychol Rev. 2008 Jan;115(1):101-30. doi: 10.1037/0033-295X.115.1.101.

Threaded cognition: an integrated theory of concurrent multitasking.

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  • 1Department of Computer Science, Drexel University, Philadelphia, Pa 19104, USA.


The authors propose the idea of threaded cognition, an integrated theory of concurrent multitasking--that is, performing 2 or more tasks at once. Threaded cognition posits that streams of thought can be represented as threads of processing coordinated by a serial procedural resource and executed across other available resources (e.g., perceptual and motor resources). The theory specifies a parsimonious mechanism that allows for concurrent execution, resource acquisition, and resolution of resource conflicts, without the need for specialized executive processes. By instantiating this mechanism as a computational model, threaded cognition provides explicit predictions of how multitasking behavior can result in interference, or lack thereof, for a given set of tasks. The authors illustrate the theory in model simulations of several representative domains ranging from simple laboratory tasks such as dual-choice tasks to complex real-world domains such as driving and driver distraction.

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