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[part of Simon Grant's research]

Modelling and simulating cognition, and its relevance to complex tasks where humans are in control

Slides for GHA presentation.


Work in modelling and simulating cognition was done within the Socio-Technical Systems Safety (STSS) Sector of the Industry Environment Unit in ISEI, and previously in the forerunners of these parts of the organisation for a number of years. The cognition that is modelled includes any of the mental processes that are involved in information gathering, processing and decision-making. Among other leaders of the field, Jens Rasmussen, James Reason, Neville Moray, Lisanne Bainbridge, and Erik Hollnagel were all at the JRC or collaborated with Carlo Cacciabue, who was in charge of the STSS Sector. The work originated in the field of human factors in process control and nuclear power plant safety, and now typically deals with a variety of complex tasks including tasks in modern transport and traffic management, and they consider it using models of error-prone mental mechanisms. Amongst these, the cognitive simulation model COSIMO, developed at the JRC, has a history going back to the late 1980s and continued to be the subject of current active interest amongst various research laboratories for some time.

Significant connections

As can be seen, there is a large and diverse range of activities that are, or can be, supported by modelling cognition.

Work that was current in 1996

The STSS Sector's Aviation Safety Group was the home of the most active work in this field:

Future potential

Modelling of cognition could potentially contribute more at least to these aspects of activities which may be of continuing relevance to the JRC and similar bodies:

This shows that while being basic research it is also close to potential applications.

Because cognitive human factors are so important in transport safety in general, modelling of cognition could play an important part in the core of a potential European Transport System Safety Research Unit. It is a key basic research area to complement and support marketable research, applications and products, which could be done both inside and outside such a unit. It is just the kind of activity that would fit well as an institutional component of in a "science park" environment.