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Chapter 1


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PSYC 2650
Anneke Olthof

Chapter 1 The Science of the Mind The scope of cognitive psychology -Betsy and Jacob story : Betsy wanted to bring Jacob a present. She shook her piggy bank. It made no sound. She went to look for her mother. • Reliance on background knowledge to make correct interpretation of events – depends on memory -H.M : amnesia patient – memory loss was an unanticipated by product of the brain surgery intended to control his epilepsy • Result: developed Antrograde memory – could remember everything before the surgery but couldn’t create new memories -Cognitive psychology – the scientific study of the acquisition, retention and use of knowledge -Our self-concept depends on our knowledge – episodic knowledge in particular -Our emotional adjustment to the world rely on our memories -Our ability to understand a story or a conversation depends on our supplementing that experience with some knowledge (ie. Betsy and Jacob story) A brief history -Cognitive Revolution within psychology – 1950s and 1960s – represented a striking change in the style of research and theorizing employed by most psychologists • New style intended initially for studying old problems such as memory and decision making • Branched out to other domains where it provided important insights into these domains • Changed the intellectual map of our field The years of introspection -the only way to study thoughts is for each of us to introspect – look within to observe and record the content of our own mental lives and the sequence of our own experience -couldn’t be causal, introspections had to be trained -Limitation: some thoughts are unconscious – introspection is the study of conscious experiences • No way to test claims – can’t separate correct assertions from false ones – therefore science can’t move forward • Science needs some way of resolving disagreements -need to consider the world as it objectively is Years of behaviorism -Argued: psychology couldn’t be a science if it relied on introspective data – psychology needs objective data -Patterns of behaviour can be observed by all -Behaviorist movement – 20 century –uncovered a range of broad principles concerned with how behaviour changes in response to different configurations of stimuli • Demands to leave out beliefs, memories ect because there is no way to study them directly/scientifically • Limitation: situation or behaviour observed is interpreted differently by different people – may lead to making wrong predictions about how they will behave in the future • Results: must consider these entities to understand behaviour (ie. Pass the Salt – need to ask what the stimulus means to you) Roots of the cognitive revolution -how people act depends on how people perceive the situation and how they understand the stimuli -Kants transcendental method / inference to best explanation – begins with the observable facts and then works backwards • What must the underlying causes be that led to the effects? (ie. an electron: visible effects from an invisible cause) -psychologists study mental processes indirectly, relying on the fact that these (invisible) processes have visible consequences -by examining effects produced by mental processes, we can then test hypotheses about what the mental processes must have been Research in Cognitive Psychology Step 1: create a hypotheses Step 2: test hypotheses by collecting more data – derive new predictions based on our hypotheses • If predictions aren’t confirmed, need new hypotheses Working memory: some initial observations -Working memory – memory used for information you are actively working on • Holds information in an easily accessible form • Has a small capacity • Span Test – measures working memories capacity o Error: not a similar looking letter but a similar sounding letter (‘S’ instead of ‘F’) o average can repot back 7 or 8 correctly o combines capacities of central executive and articular rehearsal loop -Working Memory System • Central executive - the part that does the real work – helped out by assistants – all they do is mere storage of information – executive is then free to interpret and analyse information • Articular rehearsal loop – part of the assistants of the CE – incapable of sophisticated operation o ie. stores numbers in memory while reading o CE first identifies the numbers then puts them in storage o Involves one mechanism: the inner voice usually used for overt speech and the inner ear used for hearing o Memory items are briefly stored as internal representations of sounds o Sound-alike errors are made in the span test because they are relying on this • Subvocalization – CE relies on this to pronounce the numbers – the chore of holding onto the numbers is now carried by the “inner voice” • Phonological buffer – subvocalisation produces a representation of these numbers in this buffer o The auditory image is created in the “inner ear” o Image will fade away in 1 or 2 seconds – before it does, the CE reads the contents of the buffer o Then the CE initiates the next pronunciation by the inner voice to begin another cycle o CE is needed once per cycle: to launch the next set of subvocalization – the numbers are maintained by the rehearsal loop for the remainder of the cycle – freeing up the CE Evidence for the working memory system
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