The intelligent reflex

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The seeming distinction between motor and cognitive skills has hinged on the fact that the former are automatic and non-propositional (knowing-how), whereas the latter are slow and deliberative (knowing-that). Here, the physiological and behavioral phenomenon of long-latency stretch reflexes is used to show that “knowing-that” can be incorporated into “knowing-how,” either immediately or through learning. The experimental demonstration that slow computations can, with practice, be cached for fast retrieval, without the need for re-computation, dissolves the intellectualist/anti-intellectualist distinction: All complex human tasks, at any level of expertise, are a combination of intelligent reflexes and deliberative decisions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)822-830
Number of pages9
JournalPhilosophical Psychology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019


  • automaticity
  • knowing how
  • knowing what
  • Motor
  • reflex
  • skill

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Philosophy


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