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Lecture 1 Introduction to Cognitive Psychology. A look at history, previous psychology researchers and some of the beginning work in psychology. Discussion of structuralism/formalism/etc. Integrated note with slide material, textbook material and lecture

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University of Toronto St. George
Gillian Rowe

What is Cognition Cognition is the mental processes that are involved in perception attention memory problem solving reasoning and making decisionsCognitive psychology is the study of how people perceive learn remember and think about informationCognitive psychology refers to all processes by which the sensory input is transformed reduced elaborated stored recovered and used Neisser 1967Cognition is the backstage activity of our life The first cognitive psychologists The first research began in the 19th centuryGermanys diverse intellectual climate provided the setting for emergence of psychology Wilhelm Wundt launched psychology as an independent discipline became first psychologist There was a lab established in 1879 But before thatFranciscus Donders Dutch physiologist who performed the first cognitive psychology experiments Today the phenomenon he studied would be called mental chronometry which is the measure of how long a cognitive process takes He wanted to know how long it took someone to make a decision and measured it using reaction time This is the measure of the interval between the presentation of stimulus and the participants response to it His experiment showed us that mental responses cannot be measured directly but only through behaviourThereis simple reaction time where there is only one location for the stimulus to appearand a choice reaction time where there is a multitude of areas the stimuli could appear in Choice reaction time logically should take time due to the decision making process Donders thought that if you subtract the two numbers you will get a number that represents the amount of time it takes to make a decisionWas a professor of physics at the University of Berlin His Hermann von Helmholtzresearch on perception lead him to create the theory of unconscious inference This theory purports that our perceptions are due to unconscious assumptions made in regards to our environment These assumptions are driven by experiences with similar situations and occur with no conscious effortDid experiments on memory by learning lists of random Hermann Ebbinghaus syllables DAX FBI etc and measuring how long it took to repeat the syllables without any errors He varied the amount of time he practiced remembering and recalling the syllables With that information he plotted a forgetting curve which showed memory as a function of retention He showed us a way to quantify memory Notice that each of these early psychologists measure behaviour in order to learn something about the mindStructuralism
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