The Multitasking Mind

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2010-09-30
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press

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Multitasking is all around us: the office worker interrupted by a phone call, the teenager texting while driving, the salesperson chatting while entering an order. When multitasking, the mind juggles all the many tasks we're doing this second, this hour, this week, and tries to perform them together-sometimes with great ease, sometimes with great difficulty. We don't often stop to think about how exactly we accomplish these feats of multitasking great and small. How do we switch from one task to another? What types of multitasking are disruptive, and when are they most disruptive? And ultimately, how can we take advantage of the benefits of multitasking while alleviating its negative effects in our daily lives? This book presents the theory of threaded cognition, a theory that aims to explain the multitasking mind. The theory states that multitasking behavior can be expressed as cognitive threads-independent streams of thought that weave through the mind's processing resources to produce multitasking behavior, and sometimes experience conflicts to produce multitasking interference. Grounded in the ACT-R cognitive architecture, threaded cognition incorporates computational representations and mechanisms used to simulate and predict multitasking behavior and performance. The book describes the implications of threaded cognition theory across three traditionally disparate domains: concurrent multitasking (doing multiple tasks at once), sequential multitasking (interrupting and resuming tasks), and multitask skill acquisition (learning and practicing multiple tasks). The work stresses the importance of unifying basic and applied research by alternating between in-depth descriptions of basic research phenomena and broader treatments of phenomena in applied domains, such as driver distraction and human-computer interaction. The book also includes practical guidelines for designers of interactive systems intended for multitasking contexts.

Author Biography

Dario Salvucci is an associate professor of computer science at Drexel University and holds a B.S.E. degree from Princeton University and a Ph.D. from Carnegie Mellon University. He has authored over 60 publications in the areas of cognitive science, human factors, and human-computer interaction, and has received several honors including the National Science Foundation CAREER Award.

Niels Taatgen is a professor of artificial intelligence at the University of Groningen. He holds degrees in computer science and psychology, and has published in the areas of psychology and cognitive science. Until recently, he worked as a research psychologist at Carnegie Mellon University, collaborating with John Anderson and others on the ACT-R cognitive architecture project.

Table of Contents

A Unifying Theory of Multitaskingp. 3
Concurrent Multitasking and Threaded Cognitionp. 25
Driving and Driver Distractionp. 67
Sequential Multitasking, Problem State, and Task Suspension and Resumptionp. 111
Task Interruption in Human-Computer Interactionp. 141
Multitasking and Learningp. 169
Complex Tasks and the Challenge of Monotaskingp. 199
Designing for Multitaskingp. 237
Reflections and Future Directionsp. 255
Referencesp. 273
Indexp. 297
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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