Analyzing the cognitive system from a perceptual control theory point of view


  1. Hendy, K.C.
  2. Beevis, D.
  3. Lichacz, F.
  4. Edwards, J.L.
Corporate Authors
Defence and Civil Inst of Environmental Medicine, Downsview ONT (CAN)
The starting point for the design of any complex system should be analysis. For systems where human functions are predominantly 'cognitive', the method of analysis should capture this essentially human activity. Traditionally human engineering analyses have been based on a hierarchical decomposition of system missions, functions and tasks. Perceptual Control Theory (PCT) provides a theoretical framework for guiding this process. PCT re-orientates the approach from a serial function analysis, function allocation, task analysis process, to a hierarchical goal analysis. The hierarchical goal analysis combines the previously separate processes into one. With PCT it is inescapable that goals at all levels are candidates for assignment to an agent (human or machine). The new analyses emerge from the PCT framework. The first, a stability analysis, looks to see if certain external variables can be simultaneously under multiple control. If conflicting goals or incompatible internal perceptual, cognitive or machine functions, could cause these multiple control situations, to be unstable, then the designer has to find a way to separate control or otherwise ensure stability. The second analysis looks at the upward flow of information in the system. Each goal is examined to see how information existing at the sub goal level flows up to the level above. Both analyses potentially identify new goals that must be accomodated by interface design.
Perceptual Control Theory;Goal allocation;Goal decomposition
Report Number
DCIEM-SL-2001-143 — Scientific Literature
Date of publication
01 Sep 2001
Number of Pages
Hardcopy;Document Image stored on Optical Disk

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