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Chapter 2

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PSYC 221
Thomas Spalek

CHAPTER 2 – COGNITIVE SCIENCEAPPROACH Metatheory – set of assumptions and guiding principles that serves as a general framework to guide scientists in the their research activities Information-processing approach – the coordinated operation of active mental processes within a multicomponent memory system • Was described as a general model of the human memory and cognitive systems • Was originally emphasized as a one-by-one sequence of mental operations in which one operation was assumed to end before another could begin (sequential processing, stage to stage) • Today, it more generally refer to the fat that humans encode and process information Measuring information processes Thought-provoking illustration – the factory question; seeing the factory (brain) from the outside, not able to see or go inside to know what is occurring and how it functions Solutions: 1. Watch what comes into the factory, to try to figure out what happens inside 2. Watch what comes out 3. Watch both what comes in and what goes out, and try to make some kind of connection between the two Active probing methods: 1. What might happen to the factory’s output if arrival of supplies was disrupted in some way? – know the rate of production Reaction time – a measure of the time elapsed between some stimulus and the person’s response to the stimulus • Examine how long a certain set of mental processes takes to be completed • Commonly used to identify individual differences among people • Used because mental events take time Mathematical cognition – investigates how we store mathematical knowledge in memory and how that knowledge is applied in various math tasks • Obvious age difference – young children were slower than adult and longer RT for bigger numbered problems Problem size effect – the curves increase as the size of the problems increases Greater elapsed time is evidence that some process or subprocess took longer in one case than in the other. 1. Smaller problems have some kind of advantage in memory, perhaps something to do with knowing them better or being more certain about their answers 2. Smaller problems are easier to figure out or compute in a variety of ways (3 is easier to count than 9) Accuracy – the quality of performance; vary depending on one’s ability or skill and speed • Negative correlation between speed and accuracy Serial position curve – a graph showing the percentage of items correctly recalled from a list - Participant’s memory of items was influenced by each item’s initial position • Recall was higher for early items than for those in the middle of the list when there is delay interval • Last items were also accurately recalled when there was no delay interval  Maybe recalling the items from the end of the list depends on a different kind of memory than recalling the early words  Maybe that memory can be disrupted by activity-filled delays Accuracy is better in recall for meaning (ideas and relationships) than verbatim wording Channel capacity – analogy for the limited capacity of the human information- processing system; built-in limitation in the amount of information we can handle simultaneously • Limit on human memory – how many things one can do or think about at a time Computer analogy – human information processing may be similar to the sequence of steps and operations in a computer program, similar to the flow of information from input to output when a computer processes information • Human mental processing – a sequence of independent stages of processing THE STANDARD THEORY –Atkinson & Shiffrin 3 Memory components: 1. Sensory memory – the initial mental storage system for sensory stimuli; the input end of the model, where environmental stimuli flow into the processing system • Encoding – the act of taking in information and converting it to a usable mental form 2. Short-term memory – a temporary working memory system that holds information for up to 20s; the memory component where current and recently attended information is held • Sometimes loosely equated with attention and consciousness • Can both transmit information to and retrieve information from long-term memory • Component of the syste
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