EDFL 2240 Lecture Notes - Lecture 5: Noam Chomsky, Computer Chess, Gestalt Psychology

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Cognitive Science
The historical context
o In the same way that Behaviorism had displaced Freudian Psychoanalysis, a new
school of thought displaced Behaviorism in the 1960’s and 70’s
o “Cognitive Science” examined about the brain and thought
o Learning now became defined as a “change in thought,” rather than a “change in
behavior”
Stepping back: examining metacognition
o We are now “thinking about thinking.”
This actually has a name: metacognition
Meta: a reflexive prefix
Cognition: thinking
Major events in early cognitive science
o 1940’s onwards
Computers become more important
o 1950
Alan Turing wrote the first computer chess program that “learned”
o 1959
Noam Chomsky publishes a devastating critique of B.F. Skinner’s theory
of language acquisition
o 1960’s & 70’s
Cognitive science overtakes Behaviorism in popularity among research
psychologists
The first stop: the sensory memory
o Our book refers to the sensory memory as a series of “sensory registers”
o It briefly “captures” ALL stimulation for 1-3 seconds, and perceives (interprets)
whether it’s important
o Most stimuli get discarded, some get passed on
o Three major determinants of what gets passed on:
Our past experiences
The “Gestalt Principles of Perception”
Our attention span and abilities
o Perception refers to the question of “How we interpret a stimulus”
o Our interpretation can be influenced by:
Our past experiences
Our mental state
Our knowledge of a subject
Our motivations, desires, etc.
o Human perception also seems to follow a number of interesting rules. These rules
are called “The Gestalt Principles”
o We simply can’t analyze every stimulus around us
o Our attention lets us focus on what’s deemed important
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