Intro Flashcards Preview

PYB204 > Intro > Flashcards

Flashcards in Intro Deck (17)
Loading flashcards...

What is cognitive psych?

The science of:
– how the mind is organized to produce intelligent
– how the human mind is realized in the brain


Why do we study cognitive psych?

Why do we study cognitive psychology?
– Why not? (i.e., curiosity-driven intellectual inquiry)
– “Real-world” purposes
Understanding mechanisms governing human
thought will be useful for studying:
– why certain thought malfunctions occur (clinical
– how people behave with other individuals (social
– how financial decisions are made (business and


Pratical Applications

Practical applications
– For example:
• False memory and eyewitness testimony
• Spatial cognition and the design of GPS systems
– Understanding brain disorders
• e.g., research on memory systems and Alzheimer’s disease


Alzheimer's Disease

Patients with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) have
memory problems
• These memory problems might seem puzzling
– For example, at least at an early stage of the disease,
an AD patient can memorize a phone number while
he/she is dialing it
– Nevertheless, after a while, the patient may have
forgotten that he/she made this phone call
• Here comes cognitive psychology!
– Humans have (at least) two distinct memory systems:
short-term (working) memory and long-term memory


Where does knowledge come from? Nativisim

Nativism: knowledge is innate
• Plato, Descartes, Kant


Where does knowledge come from? Empiricism

– Empiricism: knowledge is acquired through
• Aristotle, Bacon, Berkeley, Locke, Hume, Mill


Early Psychology

• Different ways of studying the human mind
– Structuralism: by analyzing the mind into components
– Functionalism: by understanding what the mind does
in response to stimuli (environments)
– Behaviorism: by studying input-output association



Analysis of the human mind into primitive
componential elements
– Basic idea: just like water can be broken down into
component parts (i.e., hydrogen and oxygen), the
mind can be broken down into elements (such as
sensation and thought)
– This can be done by introspection
– Wundt and Titchener
• Changed the nature of psychology research—
from philosophical to (more) scientific
• Two problems: subjective and unreliable



The mind is defined solely by its function—how it
responds to various stimuli (e.g., sensory inputs)
– As long as the same functional role is played, it
doesn’t matter what components the mind is made of
– This was also studied by introspection (but less
intense and analytic than structuralists’ method)
– William James
• Provided many ideas that formed the
foundation of contemporary
psychological research
• Weakness: little or no empirical



Only the (directly) observable should be
– Strictly about stimulus-response relations
– Rigorous experimental approach
– Watson, Skinner
The behaviorist began his own formulation of the problem of
psychology by sweeping aside all medieval conceptions. He
dropped from his scientific vocabulary all subjective terms such
as sensation, perception, image, desire, purpose, and even
thinking and emotion as they were subjectively defined. (Watson,
1930, pp. 5-6)


Cognitive Revolution

During World War II, research on human
performance was intensively conducted
– What makes a better soldier?
– This revealed a shortcoming of behaviorism—it was
not so useful for solving practical issues
• Development in other scientific fields
– Information theory
– Linguistics
– Computer science (especially artificial intelligence)
– They provided psychologists with tools and models
for the analysis of intelligent behavior


Information Processing Approach

Input--> mind (process)--> Output


Decomposing Mental Processes

• Formulate a theoretical model of how output is
made from a given input
– Models usually consist of multiple processing stages
• Measure the time taken for each processing
• Analyze which variable affects which processing


Sternberg Paradigm

A measure of working memory. The test involves learning sets of stimuli containing different numbers of items. The subject is then presented with 1 probe stimulus at a time & asked to decide whether or not it was a it is a member of the original set. The decision time increases as a function of set size. In elderly subjects, the decision time is prolonged relative to young subjects at any given set size.


Cognitive Psychology

– the science of how the mind is organized to produce
intelligent thought and how it is realized in the brain
a. how mental disorders such as schizophrenia and
autism can be treated
b. how the human mind processes information to
produce intelligent though and behavior
c. how people behave differently when they are by
themselves and when they are in a group
d. how unconscious drive controls our thought and



the study of the structure and function of the nervous


Cognitive Neuroscience

– attempts to gain insights into cognitive processes by
studying the brain and behavior