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Chapter 1-5

Psychology 2135A/B Chapter Notes - Chapter 1-5: Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Positron Emission Tomography, Ganglion Cell Layer

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Brown Jason

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Chapter 1: The Science of the Mind
Cognition = what you know, remember, and think
Historically defined broadly as the scientific study of knowledge
Memory functions affect your coping mechanisms and ability
Memory also plays a role in shaping your self-image, and therefore self-esteem
Cognition is concerned with many themes, not only our ability to remember, pay
attention, or think through options when making a decision
Memory of basic knowledge is important for everyday understanding (ie.
understanding that someone shaking a piggy bank means they are looking for
coins, not bills, because coins make noise when shaken)
Amnesia and Memory Loss
Amnesia = when people lose the ability to retrieve certain memories due to brain
“H.M” = Henry Molaison case
Man who had brain surgery to deal with his severe epilepsy
For 50 years after the surgery, he had no difficulty remembering events
that happened prior to the surgery, but could not remember anything that
happened after (anterograde amnesia)
Did not know who the current president was, could not remember things
that happened weeks/days/hours ago
Due to his amnesia, HM did not know who he was, and thus lost his sense of
self our self-concept is dependent on our episodic knowledge
We tend to supplement our experiences with our own knowledge
The Cognitive Revolution
The term cognitive psychology
is only ~50 years old
The science of psychology underwent so many changes in the 1950s/60s that this
period is often referred to as the “cognitive revolution”
The Limits of Introspection
Two competing ideas:
The science of psychology cannot study the mental world directly
The science of psychology must study the mental world is we are going to
understand behaviour

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Wilhelm Wundt and his student Edward Bradford Titchener believed psychology
needed to focus on the study of conscious mental events (feelings, thoughts,
perceptions, recollections, etc.)
They realized that the only person who can study one’s own thoughts is themselves
This led to the concept of introspection (looking within to observe and record the
content of our own mental lives and the sequence of our experiences)
“Introspectors” needed to be meticulously trained on how to interpret their
This approach gained a lot of attention, but eventually died out when psychologists
determined that some thoughts are un
Another issue with introspection is testing its validity -- we have no way of
separating the correct assertions from the false ones
ie. someone saying “my headaches are worse than yours” - there is no way to test
Thus we cannot rely on introspection as a means of evaluating hypotheses
Behaviours are observable, and thus this method was quickly accepted by
psychologists wishing to study people
Behaviours/actions/learning histories as well as stimuli are objective
, and thus
accepted by the scientific community because they are measurable, recordable, and
physical events
In contrast, my beliefs/wishes/goals/expectations are not directly observable, are
thus “mentalistic” notions and can be observed only through introspection
Behaviourist theory movement: uncovered a range of principles concerned with
how behaviour changes in response to various stimuli (namely, rewards and
Behaviourism lost popularity because some behaviours are guided by how people
understand or interpret situations, not the objective situation itself
In essence, mental entities like beliefs and memories cannot be directly studied, but
do play a pivotal role in guiding behaviour and are therefore essential in
understanding behaviour
ie. your friend asking you to pass the salt by saying “Please pass the salt” vs.
“Salt, please!” -- both would result in you giving them the salt, but there is an
underlying feeling not being addressed if your friend is being rude in the latter

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The Roots of the Cognitive Revolution
Immanuel Kant’s transgressional method: beginning with the observable facts and
then working backward from those observations (ie. how could these observations
come about? What are the underlying causes that led to these effects?)
Sometimes referred to as inference to best explanation
Used often in science - ie. no physicist has ever directly observed an electron, but
their presence leads to observable results
Another example is police investigations - ie. criminal leaving a size 11 footprint in
the dirt
The idea here is to study mental processes indirectly, relying on the fact that these
processes (while they are themselves invisible) have visible consequences
Using Kant’s method, we must develop a science that does not rely on direct
Research in Cognitive Psychology: The Diversity of Methods
Using Kantian logic, cognitive psychologists have explained how people remember,
make decisions, pay attention, solve problems, etc.
They do this by choosing a particular performance (ie. a memory task) and
hypothesizing a series of unseen mental events that made the performance possible,
then ask whether some other, simpler sequence of events might explain these
The hypothesis is tested by collecting data (as much as possible) to determine the
best approach
Working Memory
Reading long sentences in a textbook is possible because we are able to remember
the words at the beginning of the sentence all the way through to the end, in order
to complete the thought
This is called working memory (holds onto information in an easily accessible
form, so that that information is instantly available when you need it)
Has a small capacity, therefore can only store a few items
Tested using the span test (ie. we can easily recall and repeat after hearing the
letters A E K W, but it becomes more difficult if we had to remember A F E W S
F G H S A)
We tend to replace letters with those of the same sound (ie. F vs. S), or if working
visually we will substitute similar-looking letters (ie. E vs. F)
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