The Emergent Coordination of Cognitive Function.

1/f scaling has been observed throughout human physiology and behavior, but its origins and meaning remain a matter of debate. Some argue that it is a byproduct of ongoing processes in the brain or body and therefore of limited relevance to psychological theory. Others argue that 1/f scaling reflects a fundamental aspect of all physiological and cognitive functions, namely, that they emerge in the balance of independent versus interdependent component activities. In 4 experiments, series of key-press responses were used to test between these 2 alternative explanations. The critical design feature was to take 2 measures of each key-press response: reaction time and key-contact duration. These measures resulted in 2 parallel series of intrinsic fluctuations for each series of key-press responses. Intrinsic fluctuations exhibited 1/f scaling in both reaction times and key-contact durations, yet the 2 measures were uncorrelated with each other and separately perturbable. These and other findings indicate that 1/f scaling is too pervasive to be idiosyncratic and of limited relevance. It is instead argued that 1/f scaling reflects the coordinative, metastable basis of cognitive function.