Psychology 2135A/B Chapter Notes - Chapter 1: Visual Cortex, Max Wertheimer, Kurt Koffka

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Published on 9 Nov 2011
Chapter 1 - History
- cognitive psychology: branch concerned with how people acquire, store, transform, use, and
communicate information
- attention: mentally focusing on some stimulus
- perception: interpreting sensory information to yield meaningful information
- pattern recognition: classifying a stimulus into a known category
- memory: storage facilities and retrieval processes of cognition
- recognition: memory process; see something as familiar
- recall: memory process; determine information from memory without aids
- reasoning: going from premises to a conclusion
- problem solving: transforming starting information into a goal state
- knowledge representation: mental depiction, storage, and organization of information
- language: system of communication governed by system of rules and can express an infinite
number of propositions
- decision making: process to select one course of action among alternatives
- cognitive processes are complex and we are unaware because it occurs often rapidly, and with
little effort
- uncertain how many processes take place and in what sequence
- ideas about certain mental abilities date back to at least Aristotle and Plato
- empiricism: role of experience to acquire knowledge
- association: connection or link between two things
- nativism: role of innate factors in acquiring knowledge
- psychology is considered found in 1879 when Wilhelm Wundt converted a laboratory into the
first institute for research in experimental psychology
- first experimental psychology laboratory in North America at University of Toronto in 1889 by
James Baldwin, who studied with Wundt in 1884 and 1885; Baldwin known for work on mental
development in children
- introspection: describe conscious experiences when presented with various stimuli
- Wundt assumed raw materials of consciousness were sensory; any conscious thought or idea
from combination of sensations; four properties: mode [visual, auditory, tactile, olfactory, etc.],
quality [colour, shape, texture etc.], intensity, and duration
- structuralism: started by Wundt; focus on elemental components of the mind rather than why
the mind works as it does
- William James establish psychology in United States; wanted explanation of our experience but
asked why the mind works the way it does
- functionalism: stated by William James; the way the mind works has a great deal to do with its
- functionalists heavily used Darwinian evolutionary theory and tried to extend biological
conceptions of adaptation to psychological phenomena
- structuralists emphasized laboratory experiments, functionalists emphasized real life situations
- behaviourism: branch of functionalism; defines psychology in observable methods instead of
introspection and inferences
- introspection is too subjective, cannot resolve disputes
- John Watson believed all "mental" phenomena, like images and thoughts, are behavioural and
physiologic responses, like activity in glands or muscles
- mental representations: internal depictions of information
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- B. F. Skinner believed images and thoughts were verbal labels for bodily processes or were
triggered by external environmental stimuli and gave rise to behaviours
- Edward Tolman believed animals had both expectations and internal representations that
guided their behaviour
- Gestalt psychology: started in 1911 in Germany by Max Wertheimer, Kurt Koffka, and
Wolfgang Kohler; emphasize studying whole entities rather than simple elements; concentrated
on perception and problem solving
- relationships among elements as a whole plays important role in determining our experience
- believed mind organizes perceptions into wholes
- individual differences: started by Sir Francis Galton; patterns of performance that differ
among individuals
- Galton studied intelligence; challenged psychologists to think about the nature of mental
abilities and capacities
- cognitive revolution: after WWII; belief in the empirical accessibility of mental states and
- human factors engineering: design of equipment and technology that is well suited to people's
cognitive abilities
- person-machine system: idea that machinery operated by a person must be designed to interact
with the operator's physical, cognitive, and motivational capacities and limitations
- limited-capacity processors: system that has limits on the amount or rate that it can process
- George Miller in 1956 observed that the number of unrelated things we can perceive distinctly
without counting, immediately remember, and can make absolute discriminations among is
between five and nine for most normal adults
- linguistics: study of language
- Noam Chomsky studied language; showed behaviourism could not explain language;
questioned how humans can acquire an enormous body of knowledge, language, and using it
- Chomsky said there is an implicit system of rules, generative grammar, to construct
understandable sentences
- localization of function: which neural regions are active when different activities take place
- Karl Lashley claimed no reason to believe that major functions are LOCALIZED
- Donald Hebb suggested some functions were constructed over time by the building of cell
assemblies, connections among sets of cells in the brain
- David Hubel and Torsten Wiesel discovered specific cells in the visual cortex were specialized
to respond to specify kinds of stimuli; also demonstrated importance of early experience in
nervous system development
- computer metaphor: comparison of people's cognitive activities to an operating computer; by
Alan Turing
- artificial intelligence: creation computers that mimic human performance on cognitive tasks
- cognitive science: founded on September 11, 1956; interdisciplinary field with research from
cognitive psychology, computer science, philosophy, linguistic, neuroscience, and anthropology;
issues with nature of mind and cognition and how information is acquired, stored, and
- cognition must be analyzed at the level of representation; cognitive theories incorporate such
constructs as symbols, rules, images, or ideas; "stuff between input and output"
- cognitive scientists focus on representations of information
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