The Closed-Loop Dynamics of Cognitive Work

John M. Flach, Kevin B. Bennett, Richard J. Jagacinski, Max Mulder and Rene van Paassen

in The Oxford Handbook of Cognitive Engineering

Published in print February 2013 | ISBN: 9780199757183
Published online May 2013 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

The Closed-Loop Dynamics of Cognitive Work

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  • Cognitive Psychology



This chapter provides a tutorial introduction to the logic of closed-loop systems. A series of examples is presented to illustrate the dynamics of closed-loop systems and to contrast the behavior of these systems with expectations suggested by the logic of open-loop causal systems. In particular, the examples show that “feedback” per se is insufficient to guarantee convergence on a target. The chapter explores some of the issues that must be addressed in order to determine whether closed-loop systems will be stable. Parallels to the phenomena of cognition in the wild are highlighted, and the case is made that the logic of closed-loop systems is an essential foundation for understanding the behavior of cognitive systems.

Keywords: adaptive control; abduction; closed-loop control; observer; self-organization

Article.  11434 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Cognitive Psychology

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