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Cognitive Psychology Final Review

Course Code
PSYC 2650
Dan Meegan
Study Guide

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Cognitive Psychology Final Review
- Is language a uniquely human ability? What are the relative roles of nature
and nurture in language development? What is the relationship between
language and thought?
- Psycholinguistics study language behaviour; everyday use of language does
not always correspond to linguistic theory
- Empiricism/nurture: our language abilities are learned (not innate)
- Mental: our language abilities are nothing but stimulus-response associations
- Thought = language: how did behaviourism explain the subjective experience
of thought?
- Evidence for subvocal speech includes recordings of subvocal speech activity
while subjects are engaged in thought
- Evidence against subvocal speech includes people still being about to think
when completely paralyzed, memory for meaning rather than exactly what
was said and non-human animals seem to think
- Linguistic determinism is the way language determines how a person thinks
or perceives the world
- Inuit/snow example: rich terminology causes change in perception
- Evidence against linguistic determinism is shown through people seeming to
think the same way about things despite linguistic differences (English has
many colour words but dani does not but there are no differences in colour
- Language arose as a tool whose function was to communicate thought and
language has been shaped to fit the thoughts it must communicate
- Thinking ability appeared earlier evolutionary than language (non linguistic
animals) thinking ability occurs sooner developmentally than language (pre-
linguistic children)
- In languages with many colour words, words correspond to colours to which
visual system ix maximally-sensitive
- Modularity means language functions independently from other cognitive
functions (even if it arose to communicate thought)
- Language acquisition means language is acquired according to unique
learning principles
- Evidence for uniqueness of language involves: no direct instruction required
for language acquisition; language is acquired even under impoverished
learning conditions and the critical period for language learning
- Language universals limit the possible characteristics of natural languages;
children possess innate knowledge of universals; there are examples of
uniformities among the worlds languages
- Parsing is when words are transformed into a mental representation of their
combined meaning
- grammar is a set of rules that can generate all the acceptable utterances of a
language and reject all the unacceptable sentences in the language: syntax
and semantics

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- word-by-word comprehension: we do not wait for a phrase to end before
attempting to interpret its meaning; immediacy of interpretation is when
wpeople try to extract meaning out of each word as it arrives
- eye movements during reading: time spent looking at an individual word is
proprortional to its meaningfulness
- garden-path sentences: commit to one interpretation of a transiently
ambiguous sentence before all of the relevant information is available
- word order: same words, different orderdifferent meaning (ie. The dog bit
the cat/the cat bit the dog)
- function words: the boy the girl was sick/there is transient ambiguityuse
function word to avoid ambiguitythe boy whom the girl liked was sick
- word inflections: him kicked the girl: but with inflection interpretation: the
girl kicked him/order interpretation: he kicked the girl
- when a semantic cue is placed in conflict with a syntactic cue, the semantic
cue may determine the interpretation
- prosody is the pattern of pauses and pitch changes that characterize speech
production/pitch changes include emphasis and questions and pauses
include phrase structure
- prosody and ambiguity: prosodic cues can disambiguate sentences/the horse
raced past the barn fell/the woman painted by the artist fell
- pronominal reference: cues for determining pronominal reference: number
or gender cues and syntax, recency and knowledge of the world
- Broca’s aphasia: deficit in speech production; slow and effortful, lacking
function words, lacking inflections, sounds like a telegram/damage to broca’s
area produces agrammatism that affects both production and
- Wernickes Aphasia: deficit in comprehension ; cant understand spoken or
written language, speech is fluent and effortless, but meaningless;
meaninglessness of speech can be specific; anomia is the inability to name
Mental Imagery
- Elicit mental images seen in the minds eye or heard in the minds ear or
smelled in the minds nose
- Imagery and memory: when we are mentally visualizing something, we use:
long term and working memory/perceptual knowledge is memory for what
things look or sounds like
- History: introspection (galton): describe images and rate their vividness;
subjects reported that they could inspect their images much as they would
inspect a picture, scenes were represented as if viewed from a certain
position and distance
- Individual differences: some subjects described images of photographic
clarity, as if they were actually seeing the imaged scene and other subjects
reported very sketchy images, or none at all. They were able to think about
the scenes, but they weren’t seeing these scenes
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