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J Exp Psychol Learn Mem Cogn. 1996 Nov;22(6):1443-62.

Sudden insight: all-or-none processing revealed by speed-accuracy decomposition.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Colorado at Boulder, USA.


Issues surrounding the discreteness or continuity of cognitive processes have played a major role in experimental psychology, although there has been relatively little work that directly addresses these topics. Nevertheless, there has been a shift away from discrete models and toward continuous ones. The research reported in this article demonstrates discrete processing of information in an anagram task selected because of its similarity to insight problems, which seem subjectively to produce discrete "illumination" during processing. The authors used speed-accuracy decomposition (SAD), a relatively new technique for investigating the time course of information processing. The results of 2 experiments indicate little or no partial information in the anagram tasks, in contrast to previous research with SAD, all of which has revealed partial information. General models of human information processing must therefore be able to account for both patterns.

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