How can caching explain automaticity?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Automaticity is still ill-understood, and its relation to habit formation and skill acquisition is highly debated. Recently, the principle of caching has been advanced as a potentially promising avenue for studying automaticity. It is roughly understood as a means of storing direct input-output associations in a manner that supports instant lookup. We raise various concerns that should be addressed before the theoretical progress afforded by this principle can be evaluated. Is caching merely a metaphor for computer caching or is it a computational model that can be used to derive testable predictions? How do the short-term and long-term effects of automaticity relate to the distinction between working memory and long-term memory? Does caching apply to stimulus-response associations – as already suggested by Logan’s instance theory – or to algorithms, too? How much practice is required for caching and how does caching depend on the task’s type? What is the relation between control processes and caching as these pertain to the possible suppression of automatic processes? Dealing with these questions will arguably also advance our understanding of automaticity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)407-420
Number of pages14
JournalPsychonomic Bulletin and Review
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2023


  • Automaticity
  • Computer caching
  • Motor control
  • Skill acquisition
  • Skill learning and automaticity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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