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Temporal control of dynamic task situations and the nature of human knowledge representation

Research project P4/19 (Research action P4)

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Description :

What are the multiple mechanisms by which people adjust to a dynamic environment? How is knowledge representation involved in temporal reasoning and in controlling dynamically evolving situations?

Previous work shows the need to better understand how low-level mechanisms such as those involved in ‘natural' adjustment to dynamic situations combine with high-level processes like anticipation, planning, or synchronisation of complex dynamic systems.

A first objective is to study temporal processing of information, attention, and memory and in parallel to study learning and control of dynamic situations. Furthermore, in order to better understand human representations and how people process temporal information, it is necessary to study representational systems, both linguistic - language processing - and non linguistic as arithmetic, visual cognition. The second objective is to seek common features of representational systems and to identify the nature of information conversions between different information levels.

The partner institutions are the ULg, KUL, RUG, and UCL. Collaboration between research teams specialised in different fields has several aspects:

- Cerebral correlates of temporal information processing and subsymbolic processes at work in temporal regulations - estimation of duration, attention allocation, working memory and reference memory (KUL, ULg, RUG) - are studied in relation to temporal reasoning, by confronting a mental models theory (RUG, KUL) with connectionist approaches (ULg).

- The different specialisations allow to hang together field studies as the analysis of dynamically evolving situations in different areas such as aeronautics, anaesthesia (ULg), laboratory experiments with experimental situations reproducing a temporal structure or some aspects of its semantic content (KUL, RUG), and modelling with the conception and validation of cognitive models (RUG, KUL, ULg).

- Control of dynamically evolving situations is studied both upstream and downstream from the process itself. Upstream events include perceptual changes in very short time intervals (KUL); downstream events include the analysis of temporal errors and the consequences of non-mastery of a dynamic situation (ULg). This comprehensive view of control is completed with the modelling of implicit learning of dynamic situations and the identification of cooperative aspects in distributed control situations (ULg).

- The analysis of representational systems links together the perception of events or objects with their linguistic encoding (KUL, UCL). It attempts to identify the specificities of numerical processing, its relation to language processing and the consequences on deductive reasoning.

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