5th Cracovian Conference of Cognitive Science

Towards the Practics
8-10 April 2011

/see below, for more information about lectures in English/

In the heat of academic dispute it is often forgotten that science itself should have a pragmatic aspect. We would like to emphasize this topic during the forthcoming 5th Cracovian Conference of Cognitive Science.

We are honored to invite those who are utilizing results of research in the field of cognitive science to achieve practical goals – especially people working in psychiatry, neuromarketing, economics, informatics, or usability. We are also concerned with the usage of cognitive science in humanities – ethics, aesthetics, religious studies, education, and law.

What is more, we would like to encougare you to think more about the future of practical applications of cognitive science, as well as, how theoretical studies taken nowadays, might come to fruition later – in practice.

The 5th Cracovian Conference of Cognitive Science is under
the honorary patronage of

The Rector of the Jagiellonian University

in Cracow

Invited lectures in English:

Prof. Barbara Tversky (Stanford University): Tools of Thought.


When thought overwhelm the mind, the mind puts thought into the world. In externalizing thoughts, people arrange and rearrange ideas, enlarging or diminishing them, elaborating them, placing similar thoughts in piles, separating them from thoughts that are different, lining thoughts up in orders, forming hierarchies of kinds and parts and more. The thoughts become things that can be manipulated and acted on. After externalizing thoughts, people transform them as they think and rethink. Putting thoughts into the world not only expands memory but also fosters mental manipulations, by enabling physical tokens to represent mental ones and physical actions to enact mental ones. When thoughts and manipulations of thoughts are in the world, thinkers can both think and observe their thinking.

Putting thoughts into the world entails tools of thought, words, gestures, sketches, objects, and more. Each medium simultaneously both allows thought and variations on thought and constrains thought and variations on thought, the twinned phenomena of creativity and fixation. Those enablements and constraints are in part inherent in the qualities of the various tools of thought, words, sketches, gestures, and things and the ways people interact with them. Empirical findings demonstrating the enablements and constraints will be discussed.

Prof. Gabriela Goldschmidt (Technion – Israel Institute of Technology): Cognitive dimensions of design practice: designers’ reasoning on the fly.


Not everyone can become a good designer, including people who know a great deal about design like critics or historians. Besides professional expertise, it is believed that successful designers demonstrate mastery in the employment of certain cognitive operations that serve them in reasoning during the design process. Reasoning is all important because all design artifacts are conceived in a gradual process; they are constructed step by step and in order to proceed the designer has to reason on the fly about what has been done and what needs to be done next. In this talk I shall propose two cognitive dimensions that appear to be especially crucial in design reasoning.

Studying design processes at the cognitive level is based on recordings of design sessions in real time. The data consists of verbalizations (and sketches that help interpret them). Protocols are parsed into moves, which are the basic analysis units. The duration of a typical move is about 6-7 seconds. Long processes can be parsed into other units such as decisions or ideas.

Links among design moves. The first dimension is the way in which design moves which are generated sequentially in time are interlinked, in terms of their contents, in a network of links. A large number of parameters must be considered and accommodated during the design process, and designers link their moves to previous moves – they cannot generate a solution in a single go. The properties of the network of links prove to correspond to the quality, and especially the creativity, of the design outcome. The most important, or critical, moves, are those with the largest number of links to other moves. The proportion of critical moves and their location within a sequence of moves is very telling in terms of the nature of the design process and its actual or expected results.

Shifts between argument modes. The second cognitive dimension is related to the fact that in many domains the designed entities are physical artifacts. In reasoning about the features of those artifacts designers raise arguments that pertain to both their physical embodiment (forms, colors, materials, etc.) and their rationale – how they fit the intended purpose. Arguments are the building blocks of moves, thus very short verbalizations. Because design solutions are constructed piecemeal, arguments of one mode must be accompanied by arguments of the other mode so as to ensure that the design is kept on track. It turns out that in successful design processes there are very frequent shifts between embodiment and rationale arguments, which is not necessarily the case in other types of thinking.