Cognitive emissions of 1/f noise

Psychol Rev. 2001 Jan;108(1):33-56. doi: 10.1037/0033-295x.108.1.33.


The residual fluctuations that naturally arise in experimental inquiry are analyzed in terms of their time histories. Although these fluctuations are generally relegated to a statistical purgatory known as unexplained variance, this article shows that they may harbor a long-term memory process known as 1/f noise. This type of noise has been encountered in a number of biological and physical systems and is theorized to be a signature of dynamic complexity. Its presence in psychological data appears to be associated with the most elementary aspect of cognitive process, the formation of representations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cognition*
  • Cognitive Science / statistics & numerical data*
  • Discrimination, Psychological
  • Humans
  • Memory*
  • Psychology, Experimental / statistics & numerical data*
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Signal Detection, Psychological