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Cognition: Thinking, and Language. Chapter 9. Thinking and Mental Images. Thinking (cognition) - mental activity that goes on in the brain when a person is organizing and attempting to understand information and communicating information to others.

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thinking and mental images
Thinking and Mental Images
  • Thinking (cognition) - mental activity that goes on in the brain when a person is organizing and attempting to understand information and communicating information to others.
  • Mental images - mental representations that stand for objects or events and have a picture-like quality.
  • Concepts - ideas we group together that represent a class or category of objects, events, or activities.
    • Superordinate concept - the most general form of a type of concept, such as “animal” or “fruit.”
    • Basic level type - an example of a type of concept around which other similar concepts are organized, such as “dog,” “cat,” or “pear.”
    • Subordinate concept – the most specific category of a concept, such as one’s pet dog or a pear in one’s hand.




types of concepts
Types of Concepts
  • Formal concepts - concepts that are defined by specific rules or features.
  • Natural concepts - concepts people form as a result of their experiences in the real world.
  • Prototype – the best example of a concept that closely matches the defining characteristics of a concept.
    • How we group things together
    • What is the best prototype for a football player?

A platypus is a “fuzzy” natural concept

types of thinking
Types of Thinking
  • Convergent Thinking -there is a right answer
  • Divergent Thinking- to think “creatively” with as many possible answers you can come up with
    • Allow time for Incubation- walk away from the problem and let you mind work on it without conscious effort
    • Metacognition- think about one’s own problem solving strategy
problem solving
  • Problem solving - process of cognition that occurs when a goal must be reached by thinking and behaving in certain ways.
  • Trial and error (mechanical solution) – problem-solving method in which one possible solution after another is tried until a successful one is found.
  • Algorithms - very specific, step-by-step procedures for solving certain types of problems.
problem solving1
  • Heuristic - an educated guess based on prior experiences that helps narrow down the possible solutions for a problem. Also known as a “rule of thumb.”
    • Means–end analysis - heuristic in which the difference between the starting situation and the goal is determined and then steps are taken to reduce that difference.
      • Math Problem?
  • Insight - sudden perception of a solution to a problem.
error with heuristic
Error with Heuristic
  • Availability Heuristic- estimating the likelihood of events based on their availability in Memory
    • Statistical Reality vs. Dramatic Events
    • Car Crash vs. Airplane Crash
  • Representative Heuristic- we judge the likelihood of some event based on how well it matched some picture or expectation we already have
    • We assume based upon appearances
      • Truck Driver vs. Ivy League Psychology Professor
  • Anchoring heuristic (bias)- faulty heuristic caused by basing (anchoring) an estimate on a completely unrelated quantity
problem solving barriers
Problem-Solving Barriers
  • Functional fixedness - a block to problem solving that comes from thinking about objects in terms of only their typical functions.
    • MacGyver or the Candle Mounting Problem
  • Mental set - the tendency for people to persist in using problem-solving patterns that have worked for them in the past.
  • Confirmation bias – the tendency to search for evidence that fits one’s beliefs while ignoring any evidence that does not fit those beliefs.
    • If we thought all Italians were in shape and went tanning… watch MTV
    • Implicit Assumptions- we assume there are rules limiting what we can do
problem solving barriers1
Problem solving barriers
  • Overconfidence- tendency to overestimate the accuracy of our knowledge and judgments
    • How long it takes to study for psych ?
  • Belief perseverance- tendency to hold on to beliefs in the face of contradictory evidence
  • Hindsight bias- Tendency, after learning about an event to believe that one could have predicted the event in advance.
problem solving barriers2
Problem solving barriers
  • Intuition- allows us to act quickly, unreasoning, based on “ gut feelings”- hard to quantify
  • Framing- the way an issue is stated can effect it’s impact on it’s audience
    • Ex- 90% of people with this disease recover (yea!) 10% of people with this disease die…. (boo!)
what do we fear
What do we fear?
  • We fear our ancestral history.
  • We fear what we cannot control.
  • We fear what is immediate.
  • We fear what is readily available in memory.
  • Language - a system for combining symbols (spoken, written, or signed) so that an unlimited number of meaningful statements can be made for the purpose of communicating with others.
building blocks of language
Building Blocks of Language

How many phonemes in cats?

How many morphemes in cats?

  • Phonemes - the basic units of sound in language.
    • English has about 44 phonemes.
  • Morphemes - the smallest units of meaning within a language.
    • Can be words like a or but or s.
    • prefixes or suffixes…”ed” at the end of a word means past tense
elements and structure of language
Elements and Structure of Language
  • Grammar - the system of rules governing the structure and use a of language.
    • Syntax - the system of rules for combining words and phrases to form grammatically correct sentences.
    • Semantics - the rules for determining the meaning of words and sentences.

Is this the White House or the House White?

stages that we learn language
Stages that we learn language…
  • Babbling Stage
    • make speech sounds both in and out of native language
    • First able to discriminate speech sounds or phonemes
  • Holophrastic Stage/one word stage… 1st birthday
    • Productive language begins (speaking meaningful words)
    • Receptive language (comprehension of meaning)
    • Example… “doggy”
  • Telegraphic Stage/two word stage… 2nd birthday
    • Grammatically correct 2 word saying
    • Contains mostly nouns and verbs
    • Follows rules of syntax ; Example… “big doggy”
    • Overgeneralization –extending the application of a rule to items that are excluded from it in the language norm
    • “Yesterday I goed to psychology”
how we learn language
How we learn language
  • Skinner- Operant learning
    • Learning principles explain language development.
    • Association of sights of things with sounds
    • Imitation of words and syntax modeled by others
    • Reinforcement- smiles and hugs when the child says something right
learning language
Learning Language
  • Language Acquisition Device- prewired ability to learn the language that is being spoken. (Noam Chomsky)
    • Made possible by universal grammar- all languages have the same building blocks
    • Children start speaking in nouns- naturally
learning language1
Learning Language
  • Critical periods of learning occur in childhood. If a child has not been spoken to or learned sign language by age 7 they lose their ability to master any language.
  • Learning a language as an adult you will always speak with an accent
  • Most easily master language as a child
  • “Genie” case study
the brain and language
The brain and language
  • Aphasia- impairment of language usually caused by left hemisphere damage to Broca’s or Wernicke’s area.
  • Visual Cortex- receives written words
  • Angular Gyrus- transforms (reads) visual info and recodes it into auditory form.
  • Wernicke’s Area and Broca’s Area
  • Motor Cortex- word is pronounced
the brain and language1
The Brain and Language
  • In processing language, the brain operates by dividing its mental functions (speaking, perceiving, thinking, remembering) into subfunctions
  • The brain acts as a unified whole depending on specific neural networks.
whorfian hypothesis
Whorfian Hypothesis
  • Linguistic relativity hypothesis - the theory that thought processes and concepts are controlled by language.
    • Benjamin Lee Whorf
    • Ex.-The Hopi tribe has no past tense in their language, so Whorf says they rarely think of the past.
  • Cognitive universalism – theory that concepts are universal and influence the development of language.
  • Bilingual Advantage- think and respond better
animal or ape language
Animal or Ape Language
  • Studies have been somewhat successful in demonstrating that animals can develop a basic kind of language, including some abstract ideas.
  • Controversy exists over the lack of evidence that animals can learn syntax, which some feel means that animals are not truly learning and using language.