In the last article, we learned about Research
Methods in Cognitive Psychology, in this article let's try to understand the various
domains of Cognitive Psychology. Let’s get started.
Modern cognitive psychology
freely, draws theories and techniques; from twelve principal areas of research
Each area, in brief, is described below:
1- Cognitive Neuroscience:
Only within the past few years
have cognitive psychologists and cognitive neuroscientists formed a close
working relationship. Thus far, this union has produced some of the most
provocative developments in the study of our mental character. Cognitive
psychologists are seeking neurological explanations for their findings, and
neuroscientists are turning to cognitive psychologists to explain observations
made in their laboratories. Every part of the cognitive process from sensation
to memory is supported by basic electrochemical processes taking place in the
brain and nervous system.
The branch of psychology directly
involved with the detection and interpretation of sensory stimuli is
perception. From experiments in perception, we have a good understanding of the
sensitivity of the human organism to sensory signals and more important to
cognitive psychology of the way we interpret sensory signals. The experimental
study of perception has helped identify many of the parts of this process.
However, the study of perception alone does not adequately account for the
expected performance; other cognitive systems are involved, including pattern
recognition, attention, consciousness, and memory
3. Pattern Recognition:
Environmental stimuli rarely
are perceived as single sensory events; they usually are perceived as part of a
more meaningful pattern. The things we sense – see, hear, feel, taste, or
smell—are almost always part of a complex pattern of sensory stimuli. Think
about the problem of reading. Reading is a complex effort in which the reader
is required to form a meaningful pattern from an otherwise meaningless array of
lines and curves. By organizing the stimuli that makeup letters and words, the
reader may then access meaning from his or her memory. The entire process takes
place in a fraction of a second, and considering all the neuroanatomical and
cognitive systems involved, this feat – performed daily by all sorts of people
– is wondrous.
Although we are
information-gathering creatures, it is evident that under normal circumstances
we are also highly selective in the amount and type of information to which we
attend. Our capacity to process information seems to be limited to two levels –
sensory and cognitive. If too many sensory clues are imposed upon us at any
given time, we can become overloaded; if we try to process too many events in
memory, we can become overloaded, which may cause a breakdown in performance.
All of us have felt the same way at one time or another.
Consciousness is defined as “the
current awareness, of external or internal circumstances.” Rejected as being
“unscientific” by the behaviorists, the word consciousness and the concept it
represents simply did not fade away. For most people, consciousness, and
unconscious thoughts (such as you might have on a first date) are very real.
For example, when you glance at your watch while studying and it reads “10:42
(P.M.),” you are conscious, or aware, of that external signal. However, your
reading of the time also brings up another conscious thought, one that was
initially activated by reading the time but is from “inside.” That conscious
thought might be, “It’s getting late: I’d better finish this chapter and go to
bed”. Consciousness has gained new respectability recently and now is a concept
studied seriously in modern cognitive psychology.
Memory and perception work
together. The information available to us comes from our perception, short-term
memory, and long-term memory. Most obvious long-term storage is the knowledge
of the language. We draw words from LTM and use them correctly. In a fleeting
second, we can recall information about an event of years before. Such
information does not come from an immediate perceptual experience; it is stored
along with a vast number of other facts in the LTM.
7-Representation of Knowledge:
The fundamental of all human
cognition is the representation of knowledge: how information is symbolized and
combined with the things stored in the brain. This part of cognition has two
aspects: the conceptual representation of knowledge in the mind and the way the
brain stores and processes information. The conceptual representation in
different individuals can be considerably different. Despite these inherent
dissimilarities between representations of knowledge, most humans do experience
and depict experience in similar enough ways to get along well in the world.
The content of this information is also hugely different. But our neurological
web entraps information and experiences and holds them in structures that are
similar in all human brains.
Cognitive psychologists are
especially interested in the topic of internal representations of knowledge.
The mental images of the environment are formed in the form of a cognitive map,
a type of internal representation of the juxtaposed buildings, streets, street
signs, spotlights, and so on. From the cognitive maps, we can draw out
significant cues. Although the experimental study of mental imagery is
relatively new to psychology, some significant research has recently been
One form of knowledge shared by
all human societies is the knowledge of the language. Language is the principal
means by which we acquire and express knowledge; thus, the study of how
language is used is a central concern of cognitive psychology. Human language
development represents a unique kind of abstraction, which is basic to
cognition. Language processing is an important component of information
processing and storage. Language also influences perception, a fundamental
aspect of cognition.
10- Developmental Psychology:
Developmental psychology is
another important area of cognitive psychology that has been intensely studied.
Recent studies and theories in developmental cognitive psychology have greatly
expanded our understanding of how cognitive structures develop. As adults, we
have all lived through childhood and adolescence and we share maturational
experiences with all members of our species.
11- Thinking and Concept
Thinking is the crown jewel of
cognition. Thinking is the process by which a new mental representation is
formed through the transformation of information. Advances in cognitive
psychology have led to a formidable arsenal of research techniques and
theoretical models. The ability to think and form concepts is an important
aspect of cognition. Similar concepts help in the understanding and processing
of information. There is a considerable body of knowledge about the laws and
processes of concept formation.
12- Human and Artificial
Human intelligence includes the
ability to acquire, recall, and use knowledge to understand concrete and
abstract concepts and the relationships among objects and ideas, to understand
a language, to follow instructions, to convert verbal descriptions into
actions, and to behave according to the rules, and to use knowledge in a