The Cognitive Approach

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  • Created on: 16-06-17 10:30
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  • The Cognitive Approach
    • 1. Key Terms
      • 1. Internal mental processes - 'Private' operations of the mind such as perception and attention, that mediate between  stimulus and response.
      • 2. Inference - The process whereby cognitive psychologists draw a conclusion or assumption about the way mental processes operate on the basis of observable behaviour.
      • 3. Schema - A mental framework of beliefs and expectations, developed from experience.
      • 4. Cognitive Neuroscience - The scientific study of biological structures that underpin cognitive processes.
    • 2. Assumptions
      • 1. Argues that internal mental processes can, and should be studied scientifically, unlike behaviourists.
      • 2. The cognitive approach investigates previously neglected areas of human behaviour. such as memory, perception and thinking.
      • 3. These processes are 'private' and cannot be observed, so they are studied indirectly by making inferences about what is going on inside people's minds, on the basis of their outward behaviour.
      • 4. The cognitive approach believes that the mind works like a computer in that it has an input from our senses, which it then processes and produces an output for, such as language, or specific behaviours.
    • 3. The Study of Internal Processes
      • 1. Cognitive psychologists endeavour to work out what thought processes are occurring.
      • 2. They follow the example of behaviourists in preferring objective, controlled and scientific methods for investigating behaviour. They use the results of their investigations as the basis for making inferences about mental processes.
      • 3. One form of cognitive research involves conducting case studies on people with brain damage and comparing their performance on mental tasks with that of uninjured people.
      • 4. This helps psychologists understand which parts of the brain process which information.
      • 5. They apply the scientific method and have innovative ways to examine thought.
      • 6. One way to do so is by making inferences (assumptions) about thought processes.
    • 4. The Role of Schema
      • 1. Cognitive processing can often be affected by personal beliefs or expectations, referred to as a 'schema.'
      • 2. These are 'packages' of ideas and information that are developed through experience.
      • 3. They act as the mental framework for the interpretation of incoming information received by the cognitive system.
      • 4. These 'packages' help people to respond appropriately.
      • 5. With age, these schemas grow more detailed and sophisticated, and adults have a developed mental representation for every concept.
      • 6. Schema's enable people to process much information quickly, acting as a mental short-cut to avoid being overwhelmed by environmental stimuli.
    • 5. Computer models
      • 1. The cognitive approach uses computer models, in which the mind is compared to a computer, suggesting there are similarities in they way they process information.
      • 2. These models use the concepts of a central processing unit (the brain), the concept of coding (turning information into a useable format), and the use of 'stores' to hold the information.
      • 3. Such computational models of the mind have proven useful in the development of AI.
      • 4. The use of theoretical models is part of the assumption that the mind is like a computer.
      • 5. The way a computer works is through a series of processing step, and cognitive psychologists see no reason why behaviours should not be explained the same way.
      • 6. a) Input (coming from the environment through the senses.)
        • 6. b) Processing (information, once encoded, is processed, for example, schemas.)
          • 6. c) Output (is the behavioural response.)
    • 6. The Emergence of Cognitive Neuroscience
      • 1. Is a discipline that is a combination of other disciplines, notably, cognitive psychology, cognitive science, and neuroscience.
      • 2. Looks for a biological basis to thought processes, specifically at how the neurons explain those processes.
      • 3. Cognitive neuroscience is the study of the influence of brain structures on mental processes.
      • 4. In the 1860s, Broca identified how damage to the frontal lobe can permanently impair speech production.
      • 5. As these scanning machines, that help to map brain areas to specific cognitive functions, develop and advance, so too has the ability to investigate how brain activity might underpin thought.
      • 6. George Miller and Michael Gazzaniga, first used the label; 'cognitive neuroscience' in 1971.
      • 7.Cognitive neuroscience is important today.
    • 7. Strengths
      • 1. Has always employed highly controlled and rigorous methods of study to enable researchers to infer cognitive processes at work. This has involved the use of lab experiments to produce reliable, objective data. In addition, the emergence of cognitive neuroscience has enabled the two fields of cognitive psychology and biology to come together, meaning the study of the mind has established a more credible scientific basis.
      • 2. The approach produce some good descriptions of what processes occur, and his informs treatments. These very successful treatments emerging, using the cognitive theory's principles, supports this approach.
      • 3. The cognitive approach is probably the most dominant in psychology and has been applied to a wide range of practical and theoretical contexts.
    • 8. Weaknesses
      • 2. Although there are similarities between the human mind and the operations of a computer, this analogy has been criticised by many. Such reductionism ignores the influence of human emotion and motivation on the cognitive system, and this affects ability to process information.
      • 1. Most research for the cognitive approach has been conducted in lab settings, therefore it is less valid because participants' responses will not be accurate.


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