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The control of skilled behavior: Learning, intelligence, and distraction.
Duncan, J., Williams, P., Nimmo-Smith, I. & Brown, I.
In D.E. Meyer & S. Kornblum (Eds.), Attention & Performance XIV: Synergies in Experimental Psychology, Artificial Intelligence, and Cognitive Neuroscience (pp. 323-341). Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.
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Even dissimilar tasks typically show some positive correlation across individuals - hence the concept of "general intelligence" or Spearman's g. Similarly, even dissimilar tasks performed concurrently often show mutual interference. One hypothesis is that some general-purpose control system contributes to the organisation of many different activities, and from this we derive a simple prediction: Across tasks/skills, dual task decrements (expressed as z-scores) should be proportional to g correlations. The prediction is tested in a study of driving skills measured on the road. The results show that individual differences in such skills are extremely specific: Even similar skills have very low intercorrelations. Across skills, nevertheless, the profile of (low) g correlations agrees excellently with the profile of (modest) decrements produced by a dissimilar concurrent task. General-purpose control systems may be especially important in the early, problem-solving phase of skilled behaviour; their role diminishes as control is gradually passed to newly-created (specific) procedural knowledge structures.