Cognitive control of multistep routines: Information processing and conscious intentions

Richard Alan Carlson, Myeong Ho Sohn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


The procedural frame hypothesis, derived from a theoretical analysis of cognitive control (Carlson 1997), suggests that instantiated goals correspond to intentions to apply operators and provide procedural frames to which operands are assimilated. It predicts that participants will perform multistep mental routines more quickly when operators can be processed before than after operands. Participants in four experiments solved running arithmetic or spatial path construction problems. Performance in both arithmetic and spatial tasks was more fluent when operator information preceded operand information, regardless of whether the information was displayed or held in working memory, supporting the procedural frame hypothesis. We consider several alternative accounts, and discuss the possibility that operator-operand structure is a general feature of cognitive control.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)443-464
Number of pages22
JournalAttention and Performance
StatePublished - Dec 1 2000

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology


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