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Molen, M.W. van der

Molen, M.W. van der

Maurits van der Molen, born in Hilversum, the Netherlands, in 1950. Ph.D. from the VU University, Amsterdam. Professor of Developmental Psychology at the University of Amsterdam.

Fellow (1 September 1998 – 30 June 1999)

During the past ten years, the collaborative research of my colleague Dick Jennings and I has focussed on the psychophysiological concomitants of anticipatory attention. At NIAS, we reviewed our own findings and the pertinent literatures. We concluded that existing concepts of preparation, e.g., mental capacity, physiological arousal, set, etc. fail to provide a satisfactory account of anticipatory attention. Our conceptual analysis suggested a revised concept of preparation that is consistent with current views of supervisory attention. We termed our concept of preparation “Coordination for Action Theory” (CAT).

The new concept of is based on the very general assumption that the organism is composed of a large set of concurrently active processes which implies the importance of selection; i.e., inhibiting concurrent processes and controlling timing. CAT also assumes that action is the primary, but not sole, constraint upon our function. Action takes place in real space and time using a physical and thus, limited motor output system. Co-ordination and communication are critical to the preparation for and successful performance of a desired action. CAT could be used successfully to address five questions that are central to preparation:

When do we prepare?

How do we prepare?

What do we prepare?

Why are so many psychophysiological processes affected?

Why do physiological measures of preparation not correlate well with each other or performance? Our future research will be directed at testing our new concept of anticipatory attention and applying CAT to the study of cognitive development and psychopathological conditions