Cognitive modeling of task switching in discretionary multitasking based on the act-r cognitive architecture

Hyungseok Oh, Yongdeok Yun, Rohae Myung

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Discretionary multitasking has emerged as a prevalent and important domain in research on human–computer interaction. Studies on modeling based on cognitive architectures such as ACT-R to gain insight into and predict human behavior in multitasking are critically important. However, studies on ACT-R modeling have mainly focused on concurrent and sequential multitasking, including scheduled task switching. Therefore, in this study, an ACT-R cognitive model of task switching in discretionary multitasking was developed to provide an integrated account of when and how humans decide on switching tasks. Our model contains a symbolic structure and subsymbolic equations that represent the cognitive process of task switching as self-interruption by the imposed demands and a decision to switch. To validate our model, it was applied to an illustrative dual task, including a memory game and a subitizing task, and the results were compared with human data. The results demonstrate that our model can provide a relatively accurate representation, in terms of task-switching percent just after the subtask, the number of task-switching during the subtask, and performance time depending on the task difficulty level; it exhibits enhanced performance in predicting human behavior in multitasking and demonstrates how ACT-R facilitates accounts of voluntary task switching.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3967
JournalApplied Sciences (Switzerland)
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding: This research was funded by a grant (19TLRP-B131486-03) from the Transportation and Logistics R&D Program funded by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport of the Korean government, and from the Basic Science Research Program through the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) funded by the Ministry of Education (NRF-2018R1D1A1A09084291).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • ACT-R
  • Cognitive architecture
  • Cognitive model
  • Discretionary multitasking
  • Task switching

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Instrumentation
  • Engineering(all)
  • Process Chemistry and Technology
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Fluid Flow and Transfer Processes


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