Tzelgov, Joseph
 Ph.D.: 1981, Hebrew University of Jerusalem; Prof.: 1997
A member of the Department of Psychology, at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.

Research interests: Automaticity of psychological processes; skill acquisition; consciousness; numerical cognition; bilingual language processing; methodology & statistics of psychological research.

Dominant Themes in My Research

While human information processing in many domains is regarded as automatic (for a review see Tzelgov & Yehene, 2006), the classical definition of automaticity as: a) resource free, b) autonomous and thereby not controllable, and c) unconscious, has been challenged during the last decades.

We (see Friedrich, Henik, & Tzelgov, 1991; Friedrich, Henik, Tzelgov, & Tramer, 1994), among others, have shown that automatic processing is not resources free and that automatic processing is controlled (see Tzelgov, Henik, & Leiser, 1990; Tzelgov, Henik, & Berger, 1992). In fact, this control is apparently "automatic" in the sense defined below (see Tzelgov & Pinku, 2009; Tzelgov & Cohen Kadosh, 2009).

Our work (Tzelgov, Porat, & Henik, 1997) leads to the conclusion that we are aware of the stimuli that are automatically processed. I have pointed out the importance of decoupling the concepts of consciousness and automaticity (Tzelgov, 1997a, 1997b). This led me to a "minimalist" definition of automaticity (Tzelgov, 1997a; Tzelgov, Yehene, & Naveh-Benjamin, 1997) according to which a process is automatic if it runs without being consciously monitored. This does not imply (as is most frequently claimed) that automatic processing is unconscious but rather that it runs without conscious monitoring. One line of my current research effort is the theoretical analysis of the relations between consciousness and automaticity (Tzelgov, 2000; Pinku & Tzelgov, 2006) and those between automaticity and control (Tzelgov & Pinku, 2009; Tzelgov & Cohen Kadosh, 2009).

Automaticity as defined by processing without monitoring is hard to see when the process in question is part of the task's requirement. Therefore, in my work during the last years (e.g., Tzelgov, Meyer, & Henik, 1992; Tzelgov, Henik, Sneg, & Baruch, 1996; Tzelgov, Yehene, Kotler, & Alon, 2000; Perlman & Tzelgov, 2006; Poznanski & Tzelgov, in press), I have emphasized the distinction between intentional and autonomous automatic processing (Tzelgov, 1997).

Automatic processing is intentional when the process in question is part of a task's requirement. Automatic processing is autonomous when it is not part of a task's requirement. The Stroop effect  (i.e., longer response times for naming the ink color of an incongruent color word) is a paradigmatic case of autonomous automatic processing because it indicates that we are reading a word even if it is not part of the task requirements.

Recent theorizing by my colleagues and myself (e.g., Tzelgov, 1997b, 1999) proposes using autonomous processing, as indicated in Stroop-like phenomena, as a defining feature of automaticity (Tzelgov, 2000). Thus, I believe that showing that a process is active in the autonomous processing mode is the necessary and sufficient condition for defining it as automatic. Taking the processing in the autonomous mode as a working definition of automaticity, I am investigating the mechanisms of skill-based automatic processing.

Contemporary approaches view skill-based automatization either as (quantitative) improvement in the procedures used to perform a skill, or as a qualitative changeswitching from mental computations to memory retrieval. We have argued in the past (Tzelgov, Yehene, & Naveh-Benjamin, 1997) that important domains, such as processing numerical information (see Tzelgov, Meyer, & Henik, 1992) or reading (Tzelgov, Henik, Sneg, & Baruch, 1996; Bibi, Tzelgov, & Henik, 2000; Tzelgov et al., 2000) may have both memory retrieval and computational components. Recently, I believe more and more that a general memory-based mechanism could be enough to describe most if not all phenomena of automatization and automatic processing.

In addition, we have extended the minimalist approach to define automaticity in the context of implicit learning, in particular, using the paradigms of sequence learning (Perlman & Tzelgov, 2006; Perlman & Tzelgov, 2009) and artificial grammar (Poznanski & Tzelgov, 2010). We apply our approach to automaticity in various domains such as emotion (Okon-Singer, Tzelgov, & Henik, 2007; Okon-Singer, Alyagon, Kofman, Tzelgov, & Henik, 2011), language processing (e.g., Berent, Pinker, Tzelgov, Bibi, & Goldfarb, 2005; Berent, Tzelgov, & Bibi, 2006; Goldfarb & Tzelgov, 2007), perception (Goldfarb & Tzelgov, 2005), memory (Hoffman & Tzelgov, in press) and numerical processing (e.g., Tzelgov & Ganor-Stern, 2004, 2009; Cohen Kadosh, Tzelgov, & Henik, 2008). In particular, my recent experimental effort in this domain focuses on understanding the acquisition and representation of multidigit and non-natural numbers such as fractions and negative numbers in long-term memory. In this context, we use markers of automatic processing as indicators for testing the use of "complex" numbers, for example, 2-digit numbers (Ganor-Stern, Tzelgov, & Ellenbogen, 2007; Ganor-Stern & Tzelgov, 2008, 2011; Tzelgov & Ganor-Stern, in press), negative numbers (Tzelgov & Ganor-Stern, 2009) or fractions (Kallai & Tzelgov, 2009, in press), as primitives of mental representation. To be more precise, I assume that primitives are stored as such in long-term memory and consequently, are retrieved from memory rather than compiled on line. The picture emerging at this point constrains the set of numerical primitives to single digits and a "GeF" (generalized fraction; see Kallai & Tzelgov, 2009) but practice can extend this set (Kallai & Tzelgov, 2012; Pinhas & Tzelgov, in press).

 More generally, the extension of primitives applies not just to numbers. Our research also shows that practice results in unitizing sequences of required movement into chunks that are represented and performed as single units (Perlman, Edwards, Pothos, & Tzelgov, 2010).

Another line of my research focuses on methodology and statistics, and in particular, on the concept of suppressors (see Tzelgov & Henik, 1991), but not only on them (Pinhas, Tzelgov & Ganor-Stern, in press).

Typical publications

Tzelgov, J., & Henik, A. (1991). Suppression situations in psychological research: definitions, implications and applications. Psychological Bulletin, 109, 524-536.

Tzelgov, J., Henik, A., Sneg, R., & Baruch, O. (1996). Unintentional reading via the phonological route: Stroop effect with cross-script homophones. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition, 22, 336-349.

Tzelgov, J. (1997a). Automatic but conscious: That is how we act most of the time. In R. Wyer (Ed.), Advances in social cognition, Vol. X. (pp. 217-230). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

Tzelgov, J. (1997b). Specifying the relations between automaticity and consciousness: A theoretical note. Consciousness and Cognition, 6, 441-451.

Tzelgov, J., Henik, A., & Porat, Z. (1997). Automaticity and consciousness: Is perceiving the word necessary for reading it? American Journal of Psychology, 3, 429-448.

Tzelgov, J. (1999). Automaticity and processing without awareness. Psyche(5), April.

Bibi, U., Tzelgov, J., & Henik, A. (2000). Stroop effect in words that differ from color words in one letter only. Psychonomic Bulletin and Review, 7, 678-683.

Tzelgov, J. (2000). On processing in the inattention paradigm as automatic.  Psyche(6), December.

Tzelgov, J., Yehene, V., Kotler, L., & Alon, A. (2000). Automatizing algorithmic processing: The learning of linear ordering relations. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 26, 103-120.

Gotler, A., Meiran, N., & Tzelgov, J. (2003). Nonintentional task-set activation: Evidence from implicit task sequence learning. Psychonomic Bulletin and Review, 10, 890-896.

Berent, I., Pinker, S., Tzelgov, J., Bibi, U., & Goldfarb, L. (2005). Computation of semantic number from morphological information. Journal of Memory and Language, 53, 342-358.

Goldfarb, L., & Tzelgov, J. (2005). Are monocular distance cues and size perception based on automatic perception? Psychonomic Bulletin and Review, 12, 751-754.

Tzelgov, J., & Ganor-Stern, D. (2005). Automaticity in processing ordinal information. In J. I. D. Campbell (Ed.), Handbook of mathematical cognition (pp. 239-261). New York , NY: Psychology Press.

Berent, I., Tzelgov, J., & Bibi, U. (2006). The autonomous computation of morphological structure in reading: Evidence from the Stroop task. Mental Lexicon, 1, 201-230.  

Perlman, A., & Tzelgov, J. (2006). Interaction between encoding and retrieval in the domain of sequence learning. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 32, 118-130.

Pinku, G., & Tzelgov, J. (2006). Consciousness of the self (COS) and explicit knowledge. Consciousness & Cognition, 15, 655-661.

Tzelgov, J., & Yehene, V. (2006). Automaticity and skill. In W. Karwowski (Ed.), International encyclopedia of ergonomics and human factors, 2nd Ed. (pp. 286-290). London: Taylor Francis.

Ganor-Stern, D., Tzelgov, J., & Ellenbogen, R. (2007). The representation of two-digit numbers. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 33, 483-496.

Goldfarb, L., & Tzelgov, J. (2007). The cause of the within-language Stroop superiority effect and its implications. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 60, 179-185.

Okon-Singer, H., Tzelgov, J., & Henik, A. (2007). Distinguishing between automaticity and attention in the processing of emotionally significant stimuli. Emotion, 7, 147-157.

Cohen Kadosh, R., Tzelgov, J., & Henik, A. (2008). A synesthetic walk on the mental number line: The size effect. Cognition, 106, 548-557.

Ganor-Stern, D., & Tzelgov, J. (2008). Negative numbers are generated in the mind. Experimental Psychology, 55, 157-163.

Ganor-Stern, D., & Tzelgov, J. (2008). Across-notation automatic numerical processing. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning Memory & Cognition, 34, 430-437.

Ganor-Stern, D., Pinchas, M., & Tzelgov, J. (2009). Comparing two-digit numbers: The importance of being presented together. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 62, 444-452.

Kallai, A., & Tzelgov, J. (2009). A generalized fraction: the smallest member of the mental number line. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 35, 1845-1864.

Perlman, A., & Tzelgov, J. (2009). Automatic mode of acquisition of spatial sequences in serial reaction time paradigm. Psychological Research, 73, 98-106.

Tzelgov, J., & Cohen Kadosh, R. (2009). From automaticity to control in bilinguals. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 13,

Tzelgov, J., Ganor-Stern, D., & Maymon-Schreiber, K. (2009). The representation of negative numbers: exploring the effects of mode of processing and notation. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 62, 605-624.

Tzelgov, J., & Pinhas, M. (2009). In search of nonabstract representation of numbers: Maybe on the right track, but still not there. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 32, 353-354.

Tzelgov J., & Pinku, G. (2009). Cognitive control and consciousness. In T. Bayne, P. Wilken, & A. Cleeremans (Eds.), The Oxford companion to consciousness (pp. 139-140). Oxford: Oxford Academic Press.

Ganor-Stern, D., Pinhas, M., Kallai, A., & Tzelgov, J. (2010). A holistic representation of negative numbers will be formed to meet the task requirement. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 63, 1969-1981.

Perlman, A., Edwards, D., Pothos, E., & Tzelgov, J. (2010). Task-relevant chunking in sequence learning. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 3, 649-661.

Pinhas, M., Tzelgov, J., & Guata-Yaakobi, I. (2010). Exploring the mental number line via the size congruity effect. Canadian Journal of Experimental Psychology, 64, 221-225.

Poznanski, Y., & Tzelgov, J. (2010). What is implicit in implicit artificial grammar learning. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 63, 1495-2015.

Ganor-Stern, D., & Tzelgov, J. (2011). Across-Notation automatic processing of two-digit numbers. Experimental Psychology, 58, 147-153.

Okon-Singer, H., Alyagon, U., Kofman, O., Tzelgov, J., & Henik, A. (2011). Fear-Related pictures deteriorate performance of university students with high fear from snakes or spiders. Stress, 14(2), 185-193.

Okon-Singer, H., Kofman, O., Tzelgov, J., & Henik, A. (2011). Using international emotional picture sets in countries suffering from violence. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 24(2), 239-242.

Kallai, A., & Tzelgov, J. (2012). When meaningful components interrupt the processing of the whole: the case of fractions. Acta Psychologica, 129, 358-369.

Ben Meir, S., Ganor-Stern, D., & Tzelgov, J. (in press). The association between magnitude and time in automatic and intentional processing, Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology.

Hoffman, Y., & Tzelgov, J. (in press). The if and how of memory representation for unattended study material. Consciousness & Cognition.

Kallai, A.Y., & Tzelgov, J. (in press). The place-value of a digit in multi-digit numerals is processed automatically. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition.

Parnes, M., Berger, A., & Tzelgov, J (in press). Negative numbers in the brain. Canadian Journal of Experimental Psychology.

Pinhas, M., & Tzelgov, J. (in press). Expanding on the mental number line: Zero is perceived as the "smallest". Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition.

Pinhas, M., Tzelgov, J., & Ganor-Stern, D. (in press). Estimating linear effects in ANOVA designs: The easy way. Behavior Research Methods.



Last update: May, 2012

Key words: automaticity; Stroop-like phenomena; consciousness; skill acquisition; reading; numerical cognition; zero; SiCE; size congruity effect; numerical primitives; language processing by bilinguals; suppressor variables

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