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A key concept in 1960s control theory is TOTE (Test-Operate-Test-Exit)1:

A state diagram showing a first stage as test: "test nail", if it sticks up, the next operation is "hammer nail" going back to the "test nail" stage. If it is flush, exit

The concept seems to be neatly mapped to a modern cognitive concept:

  • The brain constantly compares perceived state to the normal state, if two do not match our attentive selection mechanism overshoots and consciousness is engaged.
  • Similarly, when we formulate a plan, we constantly compare the perceived and desired state and take action to reach the desired state (fight), yet we may give up (flight).

My question: do recent cognitive theories supports this concept or are there competing models?


1Miller, G. a, Galanter, E., Pribram, K.H., 1960. Plans and the Structure of Behavior. Martino Fine Books, S.l.

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