Chapter Summary

• Cognitive psychology as a science. Cognitive psychology is unified by a common approach based on an analogy between the mind and the computer. This information-processing approach views the mind as a general-purpose, symbol-processing system of limited capacity. There are four main types of cognitive psychologists: experimental cognitive psychologists; cognitive scientists; cognitive neuropsychologists; and cognitive neuroscientists, who use various techniques to study brain functioning.

• Cognitive science. Cognitive scientists focus on computational models, in which theoretical assumptions have to be made explicit. These models are expressed in computer programs, which should produce the same outputs as people when given the same inputs. Three of the main types of computational model are semantic networks, production systems, and connectionist networks. Semantic networks consist of concepts, which are linked by various relations (e.g., is-similar-to). They are useful for modelling the structure of people's conceptual knowledge. Production systems are made up of productions in the form of "IF...THEN" rules. Connectionist networks differ from previous approaches in that they can "learn" from experience, for example, through the backward propagation of errors. Such networks often have several structures or layers (e.g., input units; intermediate or hidden units; and output units). Concepts are stored in a distributed manner.

• Cognitive neuropsychology. Cognitive neuropsychologists assume that the cognitive system is modular, that there is isomorphism between the organisation of the physical brain and the mind, and that the study of brain-damaged patients can tell us much about normal human cognition. The notion of syndromes has lost popularity, because syndromes typically exaggerate the similarity of the Symptoms shown by patients having allegedly the same condition. It can be hard to interpret the findings from brain-damaged patients for various reasons: patients may develop compensatory strategies after brain damage; the brain damage may affect several modules; patients may have had specific cognitive impairments before the brain damage.

• Cognitive neuroscience. Cognitive neuroscientists use various techniques for studying the brain, with these techniques varying to their spatial and temporal resolution. Important techniques include single-unit recording, event-related potentials, positron emission tomography, functional magnetic resonance imaging, and magneto-encephalography. Critics argue that neurophysiological findings am often at a different level of analysis from the one of most value to cognitive psychologists. In addition, such findings often fail to place significant constraints on psychological theorising.

Business Correspondence

Business Correspondence

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