Cognition beyond the classical information processing model: Cognitive interactivity and the Systemic Thinking Model (SysTM)


In this chapter , we propose a systemic model of thinking (SysTM) to account for higher cognitive operations such as how an agent makes inferences, solves problems and makes decisions. The SysTM model conceives thinking as a cognitive process that evolves in time and space and results in a new cognitive event (i.e., a new solution to a problem). This presupposes that such cognitive events are emerging from cognitive interactivity, which we define as the meshed network of reciprocal causations between an agent’s mental processing and the transformative actions she applies to her immediate environment to achieve a cognitive result. To explain how cognitive interactivity results in cognitive events, SysTM builds upon the classical information processing model but breaks from the view that cognitive events result from a linear information processing path originating in the perception of a problem stimulus that is mentally processed to produce a cognitive event. Instead, SysTM holds that information processing in thinking evolves through a succession of deductive and inductive processing loops. Both loops give rise to transformative actions on the physical information layout, resulting in new perceptual inputs which inform the next processing loop. Such actions result from the enaction of mental action plans in deductive loops and from unplanned direct perception of action possibilities or affordances in inductive loops. To account for direct perception, we introduce the concept of an affordance pool to refer to a short term memory storage of action possibilities in working memory. We conclude by illustrating how SysTM can be used to derive new predictions and guide the study of cognitive interactivity in thinking.

In S. J. Cowley and F. Vallée-Tourangeau (Eds.), Cognition Beyond the Brain (2nd Ed.), New York: Springer
Gaëlle Vallée-Tourangeau
Professor of Behavioural Science