Midterm Review I: Cognition
Cognitive psychology: the action/faculty of knowing.
o Low level processing: sensory information, little to no analysis (e.g.
Hot, cold, red, green).
o High level processing: Making sense of information.
o Thesis: A statement (ex. “Everything about humans is predetermined
o Antithesis: An opposing statement (ex. “Everything about humans is a
product of their environment.”)
o Synthesis: The mediated view (ex. “Humans are affect both by
predetermined factors at birth and as a result of their environments.”)
o Major names: Plato, Descartes
o “The truth about the world is within your head.”
o Major names: Aristotle, Locke
o “The truth about the worlds lies within the world.”
o Major names: Wundt
o Understanding behavior by understanding the structures of the brain
o Understanding behavior by understanding mental processes.
o Major names: Ebbinghaus and Locke
o Mental processes operate by the association of one state with a
o Major names: Watson and Skinner
o All behavior arises as a result of reward and punishment
(action/reaction). Behaviors that lead to a more pleasing state of
affairs is more likely to occur than a behavior that leads to an
annoying state of affairs.
Positive reinforcement: You do well on a test and you are given
money for it.
Negative reinforcement: You have a headache, you take Advil,
and your headache goes away. You take Advil whenever you
have a headache as a result.
Positive punishment: You are speeding in the car and you are
given a ticket.
Negative punishment: You were speeding, and so your parents
take away your car keys
o Issues with behaviorism: Bandura’s studies of vicarious learning: there is no personal
reward or punishment involved with observing the actions and
consequences of something else, but you still learn
Gestalt principles: sometimes the whole is more than the sum
of its parts, you can’t break it up into such simplistic
Noam Chomsky: language acquisition in children. How can
they formulate sentences of their own if behaviorism is true?
Information Processing Models
o Input Mental transfer Output
o Perceptual cycle: Schema Exploration Object Modifies Schema
o Broadbent’s Filter Model
All information goes into short-term memory, and then
selected information is filtered into consciousness. Broadbent
posited that attention has limited capacity and thus must filter
out some of the information it is presented with.
The stimulus uncertainty rule: the more uncertain (novel) a
stimulus is, the longer it’ll take to respond to it (thus, stimulus
uncertainty correlates with an increase in reaction time.)
Chapter 2: Cognitive Neuroscience
Cognitive neuroscience is concerned with brain mechanisms that give rise to
behavior. It is an interdisciplinary field (biology, psychology, neurochemistry,
Phrenology: Measuring the cranium to get insights on the structures of the
brain. It’s proved irrelevant; it’s an “old-school” way of thinking. Franz Joseph
Gall believed in it.
o Law of mass action
o Law of equipotentiality: although certain brain areas might have been
specialized for specific functions, any part of the brain housed the
ability to perform any action.
o He saw the brain as a unified whole.
o Major names: Descartes
o Conciliates religion and sciences; states that while the mind and brain
are different, they interact and affect one another via the pineal body.
o The brain is the important structure; the mind is simply a superfluous
byproduct of the brain. Steam engine analogy.
o Mind/brain are two sides of the same coin; they don’t influence one
another but instead work in parallel
Gestalt/Isomorphism o An experience and its corresponding brain function are the same
o Lesion methods (unethical in humans)
o While there are certain differences across species, there are relative
similarities in large and important structures, which makes animal
o Almost always involves observing behavioral differences in healthy
controls and patients with brain damage.
Broca’s aphasia: an inability to produce speech, due to an
injury to Broca’s area
Wernicke’s aphasia: an inability to comprehend speech, due to
an injury to Wernicke’s area.
o Emergent property emergent causation supervenience
o Event Related Potential (ERP): Brain activity is measure via electrodes
on the scalp, and the electrical activity of the brain is measured before
and after exposure to a stimulus.
o Positron Emission Tomography (PET): Injection of radioactive liquid
into the carotid artery; shows metabolic activity in areas of the brain.
o Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI): tracks flow of
oxygenated blood in the brain.
o Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS): Interrupts/stimulates a
specific brain area using magnetic stimulation.
o Multi-unit/Single Neuron Measuring: Traces one or more individual
neurons, extremely invasive.
o Knowledge is links between neurons
o Neural Networks
When you learn, you strengthen links
Hebb’s rule: Neurons that fire together wire together
o Simultaneous firing: Parallel Distributed Processing
o Serial Processing: one at a time
Chapter 3: Perception
o Hoffding function: when an experience makes contact with a memory.
o Feature detection theory; preattentive and bottom up.
Recognition by components (geons) Perception requires recoverability
Perception is view independent
o Template Matching
Distinguishes between categories that have many common
Templates are stored in memory, either as prototypes or
Multiple Trace Memory Model
Primary Memoryprobesecondary memory
A prototype approach to template matching. Describes
how an experience is matched to prototype and how the
prototype is made.
Extraction of generalities (gists)
o Impairment of Recognition
Apperceptive (cannot perceive object features)
Associative (cannot name or recognize object features)
Dissociates from optic ataxia
Prosopagnosia (face blindness)
Capgras’ Syndrome (Dissociation of emotion from facial
stimuli, that leads you to believe your family and friends
have been replaced by imposters).
o Perception depends on attention
Conscious perception requires attention
o Context and knowledge
Apparent distance theory
Angle of regard theory
Empirical theory of color vision
Neurons are well connected and can affect one another
Cognitive systems are well connected
Perception interacts with attention and memory
Vision doesn’t have to be perfect!
Our brains fill in the missing information to give us the
illusion that we are seeing the whole picture
o Grand illusion of perception Accounts for our visual and perceptual flaws.
Light comes from above, objects are color constant, objects sit
on top of one another (respect the rules of physics) and objects
remain the same size.
Whole>Parts (Emergence and reification)
However, like most heuristics they don’t always work,
especially because Gestalt principles only work in ceteris
Highly simplified stimuli (such as those in Gestalt
psychology and the laboratory) don’t capture the
Gibson’s theory of ecological optics (bottom up
Chapter 4: the Varieties of Attention
Attention is hard to definte
o 3 metaphors
200 m lens (Erikson)
Space based models of attention
o Select some information and ignore irrelevant stuff