Dynamical Cognitive Science

Dynamical Cognitive Science

By Lawrence M. Ward

An introduction to the application of dynamical systems science to the cognitive sciences.

A Bradford Book





An introduction to the application of dynamical systems science to the cognitive sciences.

Dynamical Cognitive Science makes available to the cognitive science community the analytical tools and techniques of dynamical systems science, adding the variables of change and time to the study of human cognition. The unifying theme is that human behavior is an "unfolding in time" whose study should be augmented by the application of time-sensitive tools from disciplines such as physics, mathematics, and economics, where change over time is of central importance.

The book provides a fast-paced, comprehensive introduction to the application of dynamical systems science to the cognitive sciences. Topics include linear and nonlinear time series analysis, chaos theory, complexity theory, relaxation oscillators, and metatheoretical issues of modeling and theory building. Tools and techniques are discussed in the context of their application to basic cognitive science problems, including perception, memory, psychophysics, judgment and decision making, and consciousness. The final chapter summarizes the contemporary study of consciousness and suggests how dynamical approaches to cognitive science can help to advance our understanding of this central concept.


Out of Print ISBN: 9780262232173 371 pp. | 6 in x 9 in 100 illus.


  • A handy resource. This compendium of concepts, insights and techniques should be useful to a wide range of students and practitioners of cognitive science.

    Tim van Gelder

    Department of Philosophy, University of Melbourne

  • If everything else is governed by dynamics, why not mind? Or is the science of mind outside the natural sciences? In recent times, notions of self-organizing dynamical systems have begun to permeate the social, behavioral, cognitive and brain sciences. With a few notable exceptions, however, dynamical concepts (which embrace nonlinearity, emergence, interactions and context) remain to be explored. This book, full of scientific wisdom, wit, and understanding, is a pleasure to read. Ward brings the full armamentarium of concepts, methods, and modeling tools of dynamical systems—old and new—to bear on a wide variety of psychological phenomena. By filling dynamics with content from specific fields of cognitive research, he point the way to a far richer cognitive science in which conceptual content, dynamical modeling, and experiments mutually complement each other. This is a ground-breaking book that bridges the cognitive and the natural sciences. And it's two-way traffic. I suspect, were they around after 300 years, that David Hume and Isaac Newton might just smile.

    J. A. Scott Kelso

    Glenwood and MArtha Creech Chair in Science and Director, Center for Complex Systems and Brain Sciences, Florida Atlantic University

  • Ward has given us a comprehensive personal perspective on the emerging relations between dynamical theory and cognitive psychology. The subject is evolving and changing so rapidly that it can slip through our fingers even as we look at it. His work can help the reader stop and draw breath, before joining the chase to gain a deeper understanding. He addresses many of the major issues, and indicates problems that others have addressed or are now addressing. Contrasts are made with traditional more static theoretical stances in psychology. His book should serve as a useful introductory text to the proliferating journal articles which now are taking methodology and results further, to resolve the problems he delineates.

    Robert A. M. Gregson

    Emeritus Professor, Australian National University