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cognitive modeling

Cognitive modeling is an area of computer science that deals with simulating human problem solving and mental task processes in a computerized model. Such a model can be used to simulate or predict human behavior or performance on tasks similar to the ones modeled. Cognitive modeling is used in numerous artificial intelligence ( AI ) applications, such as expert system s, natural language programming, and neural network s, and in robotics and virtual reality applications. Cognitive models are also used to improve products in manufacturing segments such as human factors engineering, and computer game and user interface design. Research into cognitive modeling is currently being conducted by academic and industry groups, including MIT, IBM, and Sandia National Laboratories.

An advanced application of cognitive modeling is the creation of cognitive machine s, which are AI programs that can be said to think for themselves. One of the goals of Sandia's project is to make human-computer interaction more like the interaction between two humans. According to Sandia's cognitive psychologist, Chris Forsythe, "We had the massive computers that could compute the large amounts of data, but software that could realistically model how people think and make decisions was missing," Forsythe says the problem was that early models followed logical processes that humans don't always adhere to, and failed to take into account variables that affect human cognition, such as fatigue, emotion, stress, and distraction.

Some highly sophisticated programs model the intellectual processes of specific individuals; techniques such as discrepancy detection are used to improve these complex models. Discrepancy detection systems signal when there is a difference between the individual's actual state or behavior and the expected state or behavior as per the cognitive model; that information is then used to increase the complexity of the model.

According to Forsythe, the cognitive machines they've created have the capacity to infer user intent (which is not always consistent with behavior), store information from experiences similarly to human memory, and call upon expert systems for advice when they need it. Forsythe predicts that computers with embedded cognitive machines might be produced within the next ten years.

This was last updated in September 2005

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