PSY100H1 Chapter Notes - Chapter 8: Visual Cortex, Problem Solving, Cognitive Psychology

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Published on 10 Nov 2011
Chapter 8 – Thinking and Intelligence
- our thoughts guide much of our behaviour as we solve problems, make decisions, and try to make sense of events going
on around us
- some people seem to be better at using info than others – being intelligent
- cultural and environmental factors play important roles in determining people’s levels of intelligence
- for the most part our thinking is adaptive
How does the mind represent info?
- cognitive psychology was originally based on the notion that the brain represents info, and that the act of thinking – that
is, cognition – is directly associated with manipulating these presentations
- cognition – mental activity such as thinking or representing info
- we use representations to understand objects we encounter in our environment
- two basic types of representations every day – analogical and symbolic, which most often corresponds to images and
- analogical representations – a mental representations that has some of the physical characteristics of an object; it is
analogous to the object
- symbolic representationsan abstract mental representation that does not correspond to the physical features of an
object or idea
- symbolic representations are abstract and do not have a relationship to physical qualities of objects in the world
- both types of reorientations are useful o us in understanding how we think because they form the basis of human thought,
intelligence, and the ability to solve complex problems of everyday life
Mental images are analogical representations
- thoughts can take the form of mental images
- visual imagery is associated with activity in perception related areas of the brain (primary visual cortex)
- these areas are likely responsible for providing the spatial aspects, such as the size and shape of analogical visual imagery
- evidence for existence of picture like imagery also comes form studies of brain injured patients
- when we retrieve info from memory, as when we recall a picture we recently saw in a newspaper, the representation of tat
picture in our mind’s eye parallels the representation that was in our brain the first time we saw the picture
- this doesn’t mean the mental image is perfectly accurate, but rather that it corresponds generally to the physical object it
- by using mental images, we are able to answer questions about objects that are not in our presence
- being able to manipulate mental images allows us to think about our environment in novel and creative ways, which as
we will see can help us solve problems
- limits of analogical representations
o although mental representations can be analogical, the range of knowledge we can represent in this way is
o if something cannot be wholly perceived by our perceptual system, we cannot have a complete analogical
representation of it
o inaccurate mental images are still analogical representations
Concepts are symbolic representations
- much of our thinking reflects our general knowledge about objects in the world rather than simply their visual
- our symbolic representations consist of words and abstract ideas
- the provide info
- grouping things together based on shared properties, known as categorization, reduces the amount of knowledge we must
hold in memory and is therefore an efficient way of thinking
- concepts – a mental representation that groups or categorizes objects, events, or relations around common themes
- concepts can be mental representatives of categories
- can also be mental representations of relations as well as qualities or dimensions
- allow us to organize mental representations around common themes, ensuring that every instance of an object, a relation,
or a quality does not need to be stored individually and allowing the abstract representation of knowledge with shared
similar properties
- defining attribute model the idea that a concept is characterized by a list of features that are necessary to determine if
an object is a member of a category
- concepts are organized hierarchically, such that they can be super ordinate or subordinate to each other
- although the defining attribute model is intuitively appealing, it fails to capture many key aspects of how we organize
things in our heads
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- the model suggests that membership within a category is on an all or none basis, but in reality we often make exception
sin our categorization, letting members into groups even if they do not have all the attributes or excluding them even if
they have all the attribute
- defining attribute model suggests that all attributes of a category are equally salient in terms of defining the given
- research demonstrates not only that some attributes are more important for defining membership than others, but that the
boundaries between categories are much fuzzier and more distinct than the defining attribute model suggests
- model posits that all members of a category are equal in category membership – no one item is a better fit than any other
- prototype models – an approach to object categorization that is based on the premise that within each category, some
embers are more preventative than others
- benefit of recognizing our tendency to view categories as having prototypical exemplars is that it closely resembles how
we often organizes our knowledge of objects
- this tendency recognizes that not all members of a category have the same attributes
- prototype models allow the boundaries between categories to be imprecise
- although prototype models allow for some additional flexibility in the representation of concepts, they do not always
provide a clear indication of what a prototype representation would be like
- exemplar models – there is no single best representation of a concept
- instead, all of the examples, or exemplars, of category members form the concept
- exemplar models assume that experience forms fuzzy representations of concepts because, in essence, there is no single
- exemplar models can account for the observation that some category members are more prototypical than others
- prototypical category members are simply those that we have encountered more often
Schemas organize useful info about the environment
- a whole different class of knowledge, called schemas, enables us to interact with the complex realities of our daily
- schemas help us perceive, organize, and process info
- as we find ourselves in different real world settings, we draw on knowledge of what object, behaviours, and events apply
to a given setting in order to act appropriately
- we develop schemas about the different types of real life situations that we encounter
- one of the more prominent theories in this domain has focused on schemas about the sequences of events that occur in
different situations
- Schank and Abelson – scripts
- Scripts allow us to make a series of inferences about the sequence of events that raise in daily situations so that we know
how to act in any given situation
- These scripts operate a the unconscious level in guiding our behaviour
- We follow them without consciously knowing we are doing so
- Sometimes our schemas can lead to distortions in memory
- For most part they help us interact with external world efficiently
- Essential elements of schemas are that – (1) common situations have consistent attributes, (2) people have specific roles
within the situational context
- Schemas and scripts can sometimes have unintended consequences, such as reinforcing sexist or racist belief
- Scripts dictate “appropriate” behaviours
- What we view as appropriate is shaped by culture
- Given the potential problems with scripts and schemas, it is important to consider what they do for us
- The adaptive value of schemas is that they minimize the amount of attention required to negotiate within a familiar
- They also allow us to recognize and avoid unusual or dangerous situations
- Mental representations in all forms assist us in using info about objects and events in adaptive ways
- Being able to manipulate our mental representations – that is, to think about objects, event, and circumstances – allows us
to take appropriate actions, make intelligent decision, and function efficiently in our daily lives
How do we make decisions and solve problems?
- sometimes decisions are much more consequential and require greater reflection
- ability to have rational thought and use it to guide decisions and actions is considered a fundamental characteristic of
human cognition
- Aristotle – rational thought might be the defining characteristic that separates humans from other animals
- In last half century, cognitive psychologists have tested models derived form philosophical approaches of reasoning and
decision making and have discovered that human behaviour, at times, diverges from what might be considered the most
expedient or logical approach
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- Although more complete models encompassing how humans act outside the lab remain to be developed, exploring the
work done so far provides an excellent window into understanding some of the most complex aspects of human cognition
People use deductive and inductive reasoning
- reasoning – evaluating info, arguments, and beliefs in order to draw conclusions
- psychological scientists generally distinguish 2 classes of reasoning
- inductive reasoning – involves reasoning from specific to the general
- deductive reasoning – general to specific
- deductive reasoning
o deductive reasoning – a form of reasoning in which logic is used to draw specific conclusions from given
o often presented in from of syllogisms, which are logical arguments continuing premises and a conclusion
o a conditional syllogisms – the argument is in the form – if A is true, then B is true
o common deductive reasoning task takes the form of a categorical syllogism, in which the logical argument
contains 2 premises, and a conclusion, which can be determined to be either valid or invalided
o allows the reasoner to determine the truth of a statement given the premises
o it is possible that the reasoner can come up with an incorrect but valid conclusion if the premises are incorrect
o we often assume that the principles of deductive reasoning should apply equally in all circumstances, research
indicates that schemas about typical event sand situations can influence performance on reasoning tasks
o our reasoning is often influenced by our prior beliefs
- inductive reasoning
o a more common reasoning problem is to determine general principles from specific instances
o inductive reasoninga form of reasoning gin which we develop general rules after observing specific instances
o the scientific method dictates that scientists meet certain standards when inducing general principles from several
specific circumstances
o these standards are designed to guard against biases in inductive reasoning
Decision making often involves heuristics
- reasoning allows the decision maker to form beliefs or conclusion
- decision making involves putting these beliefs into action by choosing among options
- in order to decide, we must often reason about the options and weigh their relative value
- research on decision making has been influenced by normative approaches and descriptive approaches
- normative models of decision making have viewed humans as optimal decision makers, whereas more recent descriptive
models have tired to account for the tendencies humans have to misinterpret and misrepresent the probabilities underlying
many decisions in everyday practices – decisions that often fail to comply with the perditions of “rational” behaviour
- processes that allow us to make decisions quickly are often useful for dealing with real world challenges
- Neumann and Morgenstern – 1947 – presented normative model of how humans should make decisions – a model known
as expected utility theory
- Theory breaks down decision making into a computation of utility, an indication of overall value, for each possible
outcome into a decision making scenario
- Expected utility theory proposes that decisions ultimately boil down to a consideration of possible alternatives, with
people always choosing the most desirable alternative
- To arrive at most desirable alternative, we must first rank alternative sin order or preference
- This ordering of alternatives allow us to determine whether each alternative is more desirable, less desirable, or equally
desirable compared to each competing alternative
- One major findings in field of cognition is that humans are far from perfectly rational
- Tversky and Kahneman – 1970 – descriptive research on decision making as they sought to examine the rules that people
actually use in their everyday decisions
- Identified several common heuristics that people typically use during inductive reasoning and decision making
- Heuristics – in problem solving, short cuts used to minimize the amount of thinking that must be done when moving
from step to step in a solution space
- Often occurs at unconscious level – we are not aware of taking these mental short cuts as we go through our day
- Using it allows us to focus our attention on other things, which is an important part of its usefulness
- Are valuable because they require minimal cognitive resources
- Can be adaptive because it allows for quick decisions rather than weighing all of the evidence each time
- Can result in specific biases, which may lead to errors or faulty decisions
- Availability heuristic
o Making a decision based on the answer hat most easily comes to mind
o Although it can be useful because info that is important comes most easily to mind, it can also create a bias in
reasoning and result in wrong conclusion
o Using it in real world circumstances can lead to significant consequences
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