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PSYB57H3 (366)
Dwayne Pare (122)
Chapter 1


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Dwayne Pare

PSYB57 – Chapter 1: The Science of the Mind  When cognitive psychology was first launched, it was understood as the scientific study of knowledge  Amnesia is a condition in which someone, because of brain damage, loses the ability to remember certain materials o A well-studied amnesia patient was H.M. o His memory loss was the unanticipated by-product of brain surgery intended to control his epilepsy o He had memory of the events prior to the surgery but seemed completely unable to recall any event that occurred after his operation o He didn’t know who he was anymore  Cognitive psychology is sometimes defined as the scientific study of the acquisition, retention, and use of knowledge  Cognitive psychology can help us understand capacities relevant virtually every moment of our lives A Brief History  Cognitive psychology is roughly 50 years old The Years of Introspection  Wundt and Titchener launched research psychology, which was considered separate from philosophy or biology o They believed that psychology needed to be concerned largely with the study of conscious mental events (feelings, thoughts, perceptions, recollections) o But how could those be studied? o They concluded that the only way to study thoughts is for each of us to introspect (look within) to observe the content of our own mental lives and sequence of experiences  Introspectors had to be trained  Introspection died down gradually because… o Some thoughts are unconscious which showed that introspection could not be used o Since introspection is about conscious experiences, it would tell nothing about the unconscious o Also, in order for any science to proceed, there must be a way to test the claims but with introspection, this testability is unattainable  For science, we need objective observations, observations that are not based on any point of view or particular description style The Years of Behaviorism  Introspection was abandoned  An organism’s behaviors must be observable in the right way  Stimuli in the world must be in the same objective category (must be measurable, recordable and comprise of physical events)  Learning history should also be objectively recorded and scientificallythtudied  This led to the behaviorist movement which dominated psychology until the 20 century  The ways people act and feel are guided by how they understand or interpret the situation and not by the objective situation itself. Thus if we follow the behaviorists’ instructions, we will misunderstand the actions of people and make wrong predictions about their future behavior  Behaviorists believe that mental entities (beliefs, memories) cannot be studied directly and therefore not scientifically but since these play a pivotal role in guiding behavior, we must consider them to understand behavior  Stimuli that are physically different from each other have similar effects and stimuli that are physically similar to each other have different effects (pass the salt vs sass the palt) The Roots of the Cognitive Revolution  Kant’s transcendental method began with the observable facts and then worked backward from the observations o Visible effects from invisible cause  We have to study mental problems indirectly, relying on the fact that the processes which themselves are invisible have visible consequences Research in Cognitive Psychology: An Example Working Memory: Some Initial Observations  Working memory is the memory one uses for information that one is actively working on  Working memory holds info in an easily accessible form so the info is instantly available when needed  This instant availability is promoted by factors such as… o Working memory size: hypothesized to have a small capacity and with only a few items on store you will never have a problem locating the item you want o This can be tested via a span test o Generally people
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