Explaining emergent structure remains a challenge for all areas of cognitive science, and problem solving is no exception. The modern study of insight has drawn attention to the issue of emergent cognitive structure in problem solving research. We propose that the explanation of insight is beyond the scope of conventional approaches to cognitive science in terms of symbolic representation. Cognition may be better described in terms of an open, nonlinear dynamical system. By this reasoning, insight would be the self-organization of novel structure. Self-organization is a well-studied phenomenon of dynamical systems theory, associated with specific trends in entropy and power-law behavior. We present work using nonlinear dynamics to capture these trends in entropy and power-law behavior and thus to predict the self-organization of novel cognitive structure in a problem-solving task. Future explorations of problem solving will benefit from considerations of the continuous nonlinear interactions among action, cognition, and the environment.
Stephen, Damian G. and Dixon, James A.
"The Self-Organization of Insight: Entropy and Power Laws in Problem Solving,"
The Journal of Problem Solving:
1, Article 6.