Human cognition and a pile of sand: A discussion on serial correlations and self-organized criticality

EJ Wagenmakers, S Farrell, Roger Ratcliff

Research output: Contribution to journalEditorial

99 Citations (Scopus)


Recently, G. C. Van Orden, J. G. Holden, and M. T. Turvey (2003) proposed to abandon the conventional framework of cognitive psychology in favor of the framework of nonlinear dynamical systems theory. Van Orden et al. presented evidence that "purposive behavior originates in self-organized criticality" (p. 333). Here, the authors show that Van Orden et al.'s analyses do not test their hypotheses. Further, the authors argue that a confirmation of Van Orden et al.'s hypotheses would not have constituted firm evidence in support of their framework. Finally, the absence of a specific model for how self-organized criticality produces the observed behavior makes it very difficult to derive testable predictions. The authors conclude that the proposed paradigm shift is presently unwarranted.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)108-116
Number of pages9
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2005
Externally publishedYes

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