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Planning and Problem solving Using the Five disc Tower of London Task

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This paper investigates the planning and problem-solving abilities of normal adult subjects using a complex version of Shallice's (1982, 1988) Tower of London (TOL) task. Subjects were required to plan a fluent solution to a range of 5-disc TOL puzzles and then execute their formulated plans as fast as possible. The number of errors and the times taken to prepare the most efficient solutions increased monotonically with the number of chunks of subgoal moves. A subgoal move is a move that is essential for the solution of the puzzle, but which does not place a disc into its goal position. A subgoal chunk is a consecutive series of subgoal moves that all transfer discs to and from the same pegs. Furthermore, preparation time was found to be sensitive to a manipulation that increased the number of competing alternative choices, at critical steps in move selection. When subjects planned their action sequences ''on-line'', analyses of individual moves and individual move latencies suggested that planning TOL solutions was limited by the difficulty in evaluating and selecting one action (or one subgoal chunk) from the set of competing potential actions at each step in the course of problem solving.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: February 1, 1997

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