Information processing Diversity

Cognitive science is a trans-disciplinary grouping of cognitive psychology, artificial intelligence, linguistics, philosophy, neuroscience, and anthropology. The common aim of these disciplines is the understanding of the mind. To simplify matters, we will focus mainly on the relationship between cognitive psychology and artificial intelligence.

At the risk of oversimplification, we can identify four major approaches within cognitive psychology:

• Experimental cognitive psychology: it follows the experimental tradition of cognitive psychology, and involves no computational modelling.

• Cognitive science: it develops computational models to understand human cognition.

• Cognitive neuropsychology: it studies patterns of cognitive impairment shown by brain-damaged patients to provide valuable information about normal human cognition.

• Cognitive neuroscience: it uses several techniques for studying brain functioning (e.g., brain scans) to understand human cognition.

There are various reasons why these distinctions are less neat and tidy in reality than we have implied. First, terms such as cognitive science and cognitive neuroscience are sometimes used in a broader and more inclusive way than we have done. Second, there has been a rapid increase in recent years in studies that combine elements of more than one approach. Third, some have argued that experimental cognitive psychologists and cognitive scientists are both endangered species, given the galloping expansion of cognitive neuropsychology and cognitive neuroscience.

In this book, we will provide a synthesis of the insights emerging from all four approaches. The approach taken by experimental cognitive psychologists has been in existence for several decades, so we will focus mainly on the approaches of cognitive scientists, cognitive neuropsychologists, and cognitive neuroscientists in the following sections. Before doing so, however, we will consider some traditional ways of obtaining evidence about human cognition.

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