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Cognitive Science Full notes

Course Code
George Cree

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Intro. To Cognitive Neuroscience [1/13/2010]
Slide 1
How does the brain support the mind?
Slide 2
Prior to 1800’s, Psychology was subfield of Philosophy
Germans in the 19th Century regarded human mind as material,
mechanistic, and amenable to scientific measurement and
experimentation (Allows for investigation)
o First German pioneers, stimulus and perception
! Ex: How the brightness of a light relates to how one
perceives the light
Slide 3:
Hermann von Helmholtz – Background in physiology and optics and
o Drew a distinction between sensation and perception
! Perception – relies on poor data to make conclusions
(unconscious inference)
Slide 4
Through experience, develop inferred interpretations
o Infer something from data and its automatic/unconscious "
Unconscious inference
Necessary for brain to make these interpretations
Slide 5
Wilhelm Wundt – First Official Psychologist (Professor)
His theories and experimental work are no longer highly regarded
(had a very narrow view of scientific psychology; did not delve into
higher mental processes)
First laboratory – Trained many individuals (even those from USA)
Ex: Studies with reaction time
Slide 6
American William James (1842-1910)

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o ‘Armchair’ Psychologist: Thinking, observing, and theorizing
about how mental states relate to one another
o Different from others because he considered psychology in a
more modern sense, thought about the whole rich experience
of mental activity (the steam of consciousness) " A broader
o Remains highly influential to this day; including his view of
the mind as an adaptation (functionalism)
Slide 7
USA Psychology in the First Half of the 20th Century
Behaviorism: Favored introspection and speculation about the
internal processes of the mind (a ‘black box’)
Derived from classical and operant conditioning studies in animals
The processes within brain are unknown; know what’s going in and
what’s coming out " their approach to psychology
Goal: Map out stimulus-response associations that determine
human behavior
Complex behaviors would be considered a long change of stimulus
response associations or “conditioned reflexes” that are predicted
and controlled
Slide 8 (BF Skinner and JB Watson)
Most of Behaviorism studies were on animals (training)
Behaviorism " content of psychology is behavior (NOT THOUGHT)
and that its purpose is the PREDICTION AND CONTROL OF
Skinner: Operant conditioning comes from how we respond to what is
presented to us in our environment. It can be thought of as learning due to
the natural consequences of our actions. -Dispose of free will; attribute
nothing to it
Skinner: Vast majority of learning is due to what happens after behavior

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“Behavior is shaped and maintained by its consequences.”
i.e., behavior is emitted (Not elicited), and consequences that follow "
Schedules of Reinforcement
Continuous reinforcement
Fixed ratio schedule (every x times)
Rapid Response
Fixed interval schedule (every x minutes)
o Animals learn to pace themselves; so wait and when it gets
closer, start pecking
Variable ratio schedule
o Similar to gambling; on average, rewarded every 10th time
o Varies from time to time
o Very rapid responding (insanely pecking)
o If stop giving pellets, takes a while for animals to tell that the
game is over
Variable interval schedule
o Again, very curious pecking
Slide 10
In the 1950’s -1960’s, rejection of behaviorism and emergence of
Cognitive Science and Cognitive Psychology
Behaviorism failed to explain much simple and complex behavior
(e.g. Chomsky’s critique of Skinner’s Verbal Behavior, 1959)
o Coke and the Soda Machine – Coke doesn’t come; we respond
more strongly (i.e. beat on machine, get mad, etc.) even
though no expected Coke " STRANGE and behaviorism fails
to explain because it predicts that if no coke, would weaken
Also the invention of the ‘digital computer’: a machine with inputs,
algorithms, rules, etc… that produce an output " helps to open up
the “black box” and led to cognitive psychology
Slide 11
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