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Cognitive Psychology, 2 nd Ed. Chapter 1. Defining Cognitive Psychology. The study of human mental processes and their role in thinking, feeling, and behaving. Experimentation versus mathematical models and computer simulations.

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Cognitive psychology 2 nd ed

Cognitive Psychology, 2nd Ed.

Chapter 1

Defining cognitive psychology
Defining Cognitive Psychology

  • The study of human mental processes and their role in thinking, feeling, and behaving.

  • Experimentation versus mathematical models and computer simulations.

  • Information processing—the mind is analogous to the software of a computer and the brain to its hardware.

Information processing
Information processing

  • Information as a reduction of uncertainty (h = log2N).

  • Meaning, not information in the mathematical sense, is the focus of human mental life.

Defining cognitive science
Defining Cognitive Science

  • The study of the relationships among and integration of cognitive psychology, biology, anthropology, computer science, linguistics, and philosophy.

  • These disciplines bring different methodologies to common questions.

Core concepts
Core Concepts

  • Mental representation

  • Stages of processing

  • Serial versus parallel processing

  • Hierarchical systems

  • Cognitive architecture

  • Memory stores

  • Consciousness

Mental representation
Mental representation

  • An unobservable internal code for information.

  • Mental images are one kind of mental representation.

  • Other kinds are unconscious and abstract.

  • Provide the basis for all cognitive abilities and knowledge about the world.

Stages of processing
Stages of processing

  • Processes modify mental representations in a series of stages.

  • Encoding, storage, and retrieval are stages of processing in memory, for example.

Serial versus parallel processing
Serial versus Parallel Processing

  • At a given stage of processing, cognitive operations may be either serial or parallel.

  • Simultaneous operations are parallel not serial.

  • Is retrieval from memory serial or parallel?

Hierarchical systems
Hierarchical Systems

  • Mind as a hierarchy of component parts analogous to bodily systems.

  • Nervous system divides into peripheral and central branch. Peripheral divides into autonomic and sensory, etc.

  • Mind divides into perception, memory, and motor output. Memory divides into sensory, short-term, and long-term. Long-term divides into declarative and nondeclarative.


  • Self-knowledge—knowledge of self in addition to knowledge of objects, events, and ideas external to self.

  • Informational access—capacity to be become aware of and able to report on mental representations and processes.

  • Sentience—capacity for raw sensations, feelings, and subjective experience.

Research methods
Research Methods

  • Behavioral measures—reaction time and proportion of errors.

  • Verbal protocols—concurrent, think aloud protocols or other verbal reports.

  • Physiological measures—EEG, ERP, PET, fMRI.

Method of subtraction
Method of Subtraction

  • Used to isolate the properties of a single stage of processing.

  • Assumption of pure insertion:

    Control-Stages 1 and 2

    Experimental-Stages 1, 2, and 3

    Adding 3 does not affect 1 and 2

Strong theories of cognition
Strong Theories of Cognition

  • Account for a large number phenomena with as few assumptions as possible.

  • Are based on ecologically valid experiments.

  • Are based on converging evidence including behavioral, verbal reports, physiological, and mathematical models/computer simulations.

Cognitive architectures

Symbolic models

Design of digital computer

Symbolic representations

Local representations

Serial processing

Connectionist models

Structure of brain

Associations among simple units

Distributed representations

Parallel processing

Cognitive Architectures