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 at
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 successor
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
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 actions/elements.
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 shortterm 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 “oldschool” way of thinking. Franz Joseph Gall
believed in it.
• Karl Lashley
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
o An experience and its corresponding brain function are the same thing. • Animal Models
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 research
• Behavioral Studies
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
Wernicke’s aphasia: an inability to comprehend speech, due to an
injury to Wernicke’s area.
• Roger Sperry
o Emergent property ▯ emergent causation ▯ supervenience ▯ emergent
• Imaging Techniques
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 Multiunit/Single Neuron Measuring: Traces one or more individual
neurons, extremely invasive.
• Connectionist Models/Connectionism
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 features
Templates are stored in memory, either as prototypes or specific
Multiple Trace Memory Model
• Primary Memory▯probe▯secondary 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 parabis.
• Highly simplified stimuli (such as those in Gestalt
psychology and the laboratory) don’t capture the complete
• Gibson’s theory of ecological optics (bottom up approach).
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