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samedi 20 juillet 2019

Cognitive Psychology : the study of mental processes

Cognitive Psychology : the study of mental processes
Cognitive Psychology : the study of mental processes

Cognitive Psychology is the study of mental processes.  Mental processes studied include (but are not limited to):  memory, decision making, perception, emotions, reasoning,  and problem solving.

Mind Not Found -Cognitive Psychology : the study of mental processes
Mind Not Found -Cognitive Psychology : the study of mental processes

Cognition in all these forms involves the interpretation or transformation of stored information, acquired through the senses, retained in memory whose implications and associations are derived and applied advantageously in the activities of daily living. 

Mind Not Found -Cognitive Psychology : the study of mental processes
Multi-colored brain, this is where your mind come from. 

The need to study Cognitive Psychology comes from the need to answer a famous philosophical question: "How does the brain give rise to the mind?" and "Is the sum (the mind) greater than its parts (different regions of the brain)? "

Kohler (1925) published a book called, The Mentality of Apes. In it he reported observations which suggested that animals could show insightful behaviour. He rejected behaviourism in favour of an approach which became known as Gestalt psychology.

  • Perception :

Perception is the process of attaining awareness or understanding of our environment be organizing and interpreting sensory information.

Perceptions are not simply the passive receipt of sensory signals, but can be influenced by our knowledge, beliefs, expectations, goals, and past experiences. 

There are two types of processes that occur during perception of sensory information.

Bottom-Up Processes: Driven by the sensory information about the physical world. In the example of the cube above, bottom-up processes allow us to see that there are many connected lines on the computer screen.

Top-Down Processes: Actively seeks and extracts sensory information and are driven by our knowledge, beliefs, expectations, and goals. In the example of the cube, there is a top-down process occurring when we recognize the lines represent a cube.

Mind Not Found -Cognitive Psychology : the study of mental processes
Cognitive Psychology : See the 9 dolphins?.
This image is a great example of top-down processing. It appears to be an image of a man passionately embracing a woman. If you were to show this image to younger children, they would say there are many dolphins swimming in the picture. This shows how our past experiences and knowledge affect how we perceive sensory information.

“If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, Infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro' narrow chinks of his cavern.”
William Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell 

  • Long-Term Memory: Encoding

The purpose of this post will be to describe 3 different aspects of encoding that will help you with improving your encoding efficiency.

Encoding includes the various processes in which information is transformed into a memory representation which can then be stored. 

Encoding is an automatic process that occurs as a by-product of giving attention to and processing a stimulus. Although Encoding is automatic there are many factors that can influence Encoding efficiency.

Cognitive Psychology : Long-Term Memory: Encoding
Cognitive Psychology : Long-Term Memory: Encoding     

One way to improve the encoding process is to use Focused Attention rather than divided attention. For example, if you are presented with information that you may need to recall at a later time it's best if you try to minimize distractions.

Generation Effect: You are more likely to remember information that you retrieve or generate than information the you passively receive and try to memorize. This idea is the basis of the phrase: "You learn best by doing." This is why teachers assign problems and homework, the information is more likely to be remembered.

Spacing Effect: Encoding is more likely to be effective if there are rest periods in between processing a stimulus. For example, it is much more effective to go through an entire stack of flash cards many times rather than focus on memorizing one at a time. The reason this works is because when a stimulus is presented multiple times, it allows us to process it in different ways.
  • Long-Term Memory: Basic Outline


Memory is important in Cognitive Psychology because it is the way we access our knowledge. Without memory we would not be able to learn from our experiences, we would have no idea of who we are, we would not be able to set goals, and we would not be able to acquire language skills.

Memory: The pool of stored information. Memory relies on many different processes to encode information, to consolidate information, and to retrieve information.

Encoding is the process that transforms information into a memory representation. Consolidation is the process in which memory representations are 'strengthened' and made relatively permanent. Retrieval is the process in which information is taken from Memory and is 'remembered'. 

The forms of Long-Term Memory

Declarative Memory (Explicit Memory): Form of Long-Term Memory that can consciously be recollected and 'declared' and described to other individuals. Declarative Memory includes: Episodic Memory, which is about events in our personal past and Semantic Memory, which is knowledge about things in the world and their meanings.

Nondeclarative Memory (Implicit Memory): Form of Long-Term Memory that is nonconscious and are expressed as a change in behavior without any conscious recollection. 

Cognitive Psychology : Long-Term Memory:  Basic Outline
Cognitive Psychology : Long-Term Memory:  Basic Outline

  • Knowledge : In Cognitive Psychology
knowledge is commonly defined as information about the world that is stored in memory. Information can range from everyday experience to formal skills. Information in our knowledge is likely to be true, is coherent, and must have some justification.

“The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.”

Knowledge makes everyday life possible by: 

-Allowing most other mental processes to function competently. For example, knowledge allows us to focus our attention to objects or people that are important. 

-Allowing us to categorize things. Using these categories we are able to draw an inference about objects, namely that they have many similar features.

 -Allows us to perform appropriate actions. Knowledge allows us to perform actions that are not biological reflexes. 

  • Attention, How it Fails (Cognitive Psychology)


Attention is among the most important of our cognitive functions. Although it is not as heavily researched as perception is, attention affects almost all of the other cognitive functions.

Attention can be defined as "selecting some information for further processing and inhibiting other information from receiving further processing."

Failures of Selection:  We can fail to attend to information when there is a lot of information present and you are simply not capable of noticing at all at once. Failure can also occur when information arrives rapidly.


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