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Chapter 1

PSY270H5 Chapter Notes - Chapter 1: Franciscus Donders, Mental Chronometry

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Christine Burton

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Chapter 1
Introduction to Cognitive Psychology
What is the mind and what does it do?
- The mind creates and controls mental functions such as attention, memory, emotions,
language, deciding, thinking, and reasoning. (different types of cognition)
- The mind is a system that created representations of the world so that we can act within it
to achieve our goals. (functioning and survival, creating representations)
- The mind is important and beautiful and meant to be used.
-Cognition: the mental processes such as perception attention and memory
Studying the Mind: Early Work in Cognitive Psychology
- 1800s: The mind cannot study itself.
-Donders, 1868: first cognitive psychology experiment
oHow long does it take to make a decision?
oMeasured reaction time (how long it takes to respond to the presentation of a
oPart 1: simple reaction time task
Press a button when a light is presented (J key)
o Part 2: choice reaction time task
Two lights presented (on left and right); push one button (J key) when L
light presented and other button (K key) when R light presented
oPresenting a stimulus (light) causes a mental response (perceiving the light,
choosing which button to push) and leads to a behavioural response (pushing the
oReaction time is the time between stimulus and response
oHypothesis: Part 2 would take longer b/c of the difference choices; Part 2 - Part 1
= how long it takes to make a decision
oResult: It takes 1/10 of a second to make a decision
oWhat we learned: mental responses cannot be measured directly and must be
inferred from behaviour imp for all cognitive psychology research!
- Ebbinghaus, 1885: How long does it take to forget something?
oSelf test; used a memory drum to present nonsense syllables to himself (to prevent
prior influences)
oTried to learn the syllables in the list the first time he saw it, then checked it with
the memory drum
oNoted numbers of trials it took to learn the list.
oThe waited various times (days, seconds, etc) and recalled the items on the list
oAnalysis: used savings method
Savings = [(Initial repetitions) – (Relearning repetitions) / Initial
repetitions] x 100
oResult: greater savings for shorter interval waiting times
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