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Chapter all

PSYC 3260 Chapter Notes - Chapter all: Hindbrain, Connectionism, Empiricism

Course Code
PSYC 3260
Norman Park

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Cognitive Psychology Textbook Notes (with additional notes added from lectures)
(Chapter 1) Cognitive Psychology: History, Methods, and Paradigms
Cognitive Psychology: branch of psychology concerned with how people acquire, store,
transform, use, and communicate information (Neisser, 1967)
Attention: mentally focusing on some stimulus
Perception: interpreting sensory information to yield meaningful information
Pattern Recognition: classifying a stimulus into a known category
Memory: recognizing a familiar shape (or recalling what you’ve seen/heard before)
Recognition: identifying something as familiar
Recall: remembering
Knowledge Representation: mental organization of the knowledge you have accumulated in
your lifetime
Empiricism: rests on the tenet that knowledge comes from an individuals own experience
- John Locke argued that two distinct ideas or experiences, having nothing to do with each other,
could become joined in the mind simply because they happened to occur or to be presented to the
individual at the same time
- empiricists believe that one’s environment plays a powerful role in determining ones
intellectual (and other) abilities
Nativism: emphasizes the role of constitutional factors- of native ability (genetics)- over the role
of learning in the acquisition of abilities and tendencies (essentially our genes make us who we
are and what we capable of)
- major proponents were Plato and Descartes
Structuralism: term meant to convey Wilhelm Wundts focus on what the elemental
components of the mind are rather than on the question of why the mind works as it does
- focused on the “what” questions of the mind
Psychology was “founded” as a formal discipline in 1879 with Wilhelm Wundt converted a
laboratory into the first institute for research in experimental psychology (in Germany)
- shortly after, James Baldwin set up the first experimental lab at UofT in 1889
- - Wundt thought that any conscious thought or idea resulted from a combination of
sensations that could be defined in terms of 4 properties: mode, quality, intensity, and
Functionalism: (by William James)- the way the mind works has a lot to do with its function-
the purposes of its various operations – the “why” questions of the mind
- regarded psychology’s mission to be the explanation of our experience (wanted to know why
the mind works the way it does)
- functionalists are more practical and took a more out-of-the-lab approach to psychology and
how the mind works- they wanted to study the mind in real-time and through real-world
Behaviourism: school of psychology which came about in the 1930’s- essential tenets were that
references to unobservable subjective processes and unobservable subjective mental states were
to be banished from psychology
- from a behaviorists perspective, psychology is the scientific study of behaviour
- major proponents: Watson and Skinner (from studies on animals)
- everything in behaviourism is based on the physical (mind and body are the same)
Mental Representations: internal depictions of information

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Gestalt Psychology: began in Frankfurt, Germany, 1911 (gestalt translates to configuration or
- school suggests that psychological phenomenon could not be reduced to simple
elements but rather had to be analyzed and studied in their entirety
- - Gestalt psychologists mainly study perception and problem solving
- study people’s subjective experience of stimuli and to focus on how people use or impose
structure and order on their experiences
- view things as whole and not reducible to its parts
Study of Individual Differences: study by Sir Francis Galton in measuring intelligence/mental
capabilities (was cousin of Charles Darwin)
- invented many statistical techniques to analyze his data on the heritability of “eminence”
Cognitive Revolution: period following world war II (humans factor engineering) including a
rejection of the behaviourist assumption that mental events and states were beyond the
realm of scientific study – no complete explanation of a person’s functioning could exist that did
not refer to the person’s mental representations of the world
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
check out George Miller’s paper: “The magical number Seven, Plus or minus Two”
(1956) dealing in how many things we can remember from a list or distinguish separately
Neuroscience: study of brain-based underpinnings of psychological/behavioural functions
Localization of Function: certain parts of the brain work to operate specific “things”
Cognitive Science: interdisciplinary field comprising cognitive psychology, computer science,
philosophy, linguistics, neuroscience, and anthropology
Research Methods in Cognitive Psychology: Naturalistic Observation, Introspection (observer
observes his/her own mental processes), Controlled Observation and Clinical Interviews,
Experiments and Quasi-Experiments, Investigations of Neural Underpinnings (brain imaging)
Paradigm: a body of knowledge structured according to what its proponents consider important
and what they do not (includes selecting research method)
4 Paradigms of Cognitive Psychology:
Information-Processing Approach: cognition is information processed by the brain (goes
through stages similar to a computer)
Connectionism: cognition as a network of connections among simple processing units
- each unit is connected to other units in a large network (sometimes if one area fails
another area will take over that function- i.e. plasticity)
Evolutionary Approach: human mind is a biological system which has evolved over time to
adapt in certain ways in response to different environments
- humans have specialized areas of competence solely because we’re humans (produced by
evolutionary heritage)
Ecological Approach: cognition does not occur in isolation from larger cultural contexts; all
cognitive activities are shaped by the culture and by the context on which they occur
* REMEMBER: Introspection- study done on mental faculties but based on self-reporting
graduate students (from Wilhelm Wundt)
(Chapter 2) The Brain: An Overview of Structure and Function
Two kinds of approaches: a symbolic and abstract one for cognition and at the neural level for
the actual functioning of cognitive processes in real time

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- was thought that the latter would be too complex and intricate to reveal anything on a
practical level
The brain grows from 0 to 350 grams during the prenatal period and achieves maximum weight
(1350 grams) at 20 years old
Adult brain contains: hindbrain, midbrain, and forebrain (containing cerebral cortex)
The Hindbrain and Midbrain
- the hindbrain develops as one of the three bulges in the embryos neural tube
- (hindbrain is thought of as the most primitive brain)
- Hindbrain contains 3 major structures: medulla oblongata (or medulla), The pons, and
Medulla: transmits information from spinal cord to the brain/regulates life support functions
The pons (latin word for bridge): neural relay centre facilitating the “crossover” of information
between the left side of the body and right side of brain/vice versa
Cerebellum: coordinates muscle activity and governs balance/motor behaviour
- largest structure in the brain which consists of a layer called the cerebral cortex
- cerebral cortex carries information between cortex and thalamus
Midbrain: located in the middle of brain and responsible for relaying information between other
brain regions
Reticular Formation: (part of midbrain) helps keep us awake and alert and involved in sudden
arousal response to threatening stimulus
The Forebrain: involved in cognitive functioning and contain following structures/areas:
Thalamus: relaying information to the cerebral cortex
Hypothalamus: controls pituitary gland by releasing hormones
Hippocampus: involved in the formation of long-term memories
Amygdala: modulates strength of emotional memories and involved in emotional learning
Basal Ganglia: involved in the production of motor behaviour
Cerebral Cortex is divided into 4 lobes: Frontal (underneath forehead), Parietal (underneath top
rear skull), Occipital (back of the head), and Temporal (side of the head)
- left and right brain hemispheres are connected by the corpus callosum
-Parietal lobes process sensory information from the body
-Occipital lobes process visual information
-Temporal lobes process auditory information/ability to recognize faces
-Frontal lobes have 3 separate regions: Motor Cortex – directs fine motor movement
- Premotor Cortex plans motor movements
- Prefontal cortex- involved in executive functioning (planning, making decisions, etc.)
Localization of Function: a means of mapping the brain
- idea goes back to Franz Galls Faculty Psychology – the theory that different mental
abilities were independent and autonomous functions carried out in different parts of brain
Phrenology: failed theory of the brain which asserted that psychological strengths and
weaknesses could be precisely correlated to the relative sizes of different brain areas
Paul Broca: in 1860’s presented findings at medical conference that showed brain injury to a
particular part of the left frontal lobe resulted in a certain kind of aphasia – disruption of
expressive language (now known as Brocas area) – aka Expressive Aphasia
Wernicke’s Area: Carl Wernicke discovered another language centre for understanding rather
than communicating- located in superior posterior region of the temporal lobe – people with
Wernicke’s aphasia can produce speech perfectly but often speak in nonsense syllables/gibberish
Ablation: removing parts of the brain (tested on rats running mazes)
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