Cognitive Psych Lecture Notes

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University of Waterloo
Jonathan Fugelsang

Cognitive Psychology January 6, 2011 Historical Overview and Approaches Antecedent Philosophies and Traditions Empiricism Locke, Hume, Stuart Mill Emphasis on Experience/learning, blank slate idea Key is the association between experiences You see causal relationship because you have seem them in the past and have experienced it Nativism Plato, Descartes, Kant Emphasis on that which is innate, there are some cognitive capacities you are born with You dont need experience to see causal relationships Antecedents of Cognitive Psychology Structuralism Wundt and Baldwin Focus on elemental components of mind; o Method: Introspection o Report on the basic elements of consciousness o Not internal perception but experimental self observation o Must be done in laboratory under controlled conditions o Conscious experience could be broken down into four different variables: the mode, visual, auditory, tactile; the quality, its colour and shape, etc.; intensity and duration. Functionalism William James Regarded the mission of psychology to be the explanation of our experience Why does the work as it does? Function more important than content o Method: Introspection in natural settings o Most study the whole organism in real-life situations o Must get out of laboratory Psychology as the Behaviourist sees it is a purely objective, experimental branch of natural science. Its theoretical goal is the prediction and control of behaviour. Introspection forms no essential part of its methods, nor is the scientific value of its data dependent upon the readiness of with which they lend themselves to interpretation in terms of consciousnessWhat we need to do is start work upon psychology making behaviour, not consciousness, the objective point of our attack. - Waton Behaviourism Watson, Skinner Took root in the 1930s and dominated academic psychology well into the 1960s Evolved as a reaction to the lack of progress using introspection Became unfashionable to talk about mental representations and consciousness Learning was emphasized as was the relationship between inputs (stimuli) and outputs (responses) Gestalt Psychology Wertheimer, Koffka, Kohler Focus on the holistic aspects of conscious experience (i.e. what order is imposed in perception) The key question is: what are the rules by which we parse the world into wholes? o Method: Introspection o Experience simply described as given, never analyzed (e.g., I see a book) Unified whole is different from the sum of the parts Top down, how is it that our mind imposes structure on our perceptual system? Individuals Differences Sir Francis Galton Intelligence, morals and personality were innate Studied mental imagery in both laboratory and naturalistic settings Wanted individual differences in these cognitive faculties His invention of tests and questionnaires to assess mental abilities inspired later cognitive psychologists to develop similar measures The Cognitive Revolution (The Structure of Scientific Revolutions Kuhn) (1) Human factors engineering presented new problems During war time: equipment design required knowledge of human cognition Focus: what is the most optimal way to design a machine for human use o E.g., pilots landing airplanes o E.g., vigilance while monitoring the radar screen, keeping peoples attention without being overloaded they needed to know how the mind worked in these settings (2) Behaviourism failed to adequately explain language Skinner (1957): children learn language by imitation and reinforcement (behaviourism) Chomsky (1959): questioned operant conditioning explanation of language o Children say sentences they never heard (I hate you mommy) o The use incorrect grammar (the boy hitted the ball) even though it is not reinforced o Chomsky believed language was innate, our mind was set up so we could develop and understand language (3) Localization of function in the brain forced discussion of mind Donald Hebb: some functions (E.g., perception) are based on cell assemblies Hubel and Weisel: demonstrated importance of early experience on development of nervous system (e.g., cats with early experience of horizontal lines failed to later perceive vertical lines); the brain enables specific cognitive processes (4) Development of computers and artificial intelligence gave a dominant metaphor Computers have short term memory and long term memory etc., compared to our minds The mind is to the brain as the software is to the computer Paradigms of Cognitive Psychology Information Processing Emphasis is on: o Information FLOWS through the organism o Draws an analogy between human cognition and computerized processing of information (i.e. people are general purpose symbol manipulators) o Information is stored symbolically and locally (pieces we actually understand) o Assumes that information is processed (received, stored, recoded, transformed, retrieved, and transmitted) in stages and that it is stored in specific places while being processed. Things happen serially in a stage like fashion (Serial processing) o Thought of as systems of interrelated capacities o Nature of representations how is it that information is represented? o Nature or processes that operate on these representations o Localist: Typically Serial Processing o These are also typically localist models, in which a SINGLE node stands for something symbolic (e.g., a letter, a phoneme, a word, a meaning) o Lexical Knowledge words: dog, semantic knowledge what you know about the word: has four legs, barks, etc. Connectionsim Parallel Distributed Processing (PDP) Simple neuron-like elements code pattern of activation across a large population of such elements Neural networks: Units are connected by weights that are modifiable by learning o Positively weighted lead to activation o Negatively weighted lead to inhibition Items (E.g., a letter, a word, a meaning) are represented by a pattern of activation Connectionism models are distributed Major Assumptions of Approaches
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