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Keywords:

  • Control theory;
  • Cybernetics;
  • Negative feedback;
  • Interdisciplinary;
  • Integrative;
  • Hierarchy

Abstract

This commentary proposes that “cognitive control” is neither componential nor emergent, but a fundamental feature of behavior. The term “control” requires an operational definition. This is best provided by the negative feedback loop that utilizes behavior to control perception; it does not control behavior per se. In order to model complex cognitive control, Perceptual Control Theory proposes that loops are organized into a dissociable hierarchical network (PCT; Powers, Clark, & McFarland, 1960; Powers, 1973a, 2008). In this way, behavior is dynamically adaptive to environmental disturbances, rather than being formed by, or superimposed upon, learned associations between stimulus and response.