Cognitive Psychology Revision notes

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Cognitive Psychology
Introduction
"The term cognition refers to the mental structures and processes involved in the
reception, storage, and use of knowledge" (Law, Halkiopoulos & Bryan Zaykov,
2010)
"All the processes by which the sensory input is a transformed, reduced,
elaborated, stored, recovered and used" (Neisser, 1967)
1950s Behaviourism: Based on the premise that mental processes couldn't be
studied scientifically because they can't be observed directly. Developed as a
reaction against the subjective `introspective reports' used in the study of the
mind in the 19th Century e.g. Watson (1913) founder of behaviourism
Chomsky (1959) realized that behaviourism was too limited to successfully
explain the complex psychological phenomenon of learning.
WWII: Psychologists realized behaviourism couldn't offer sufficient explanation
for the sorts of problems they were being asked to investigate
Discovery of digital computor: Provided powerful ways for psychologists to
describe and analyze what the mind was doing
Ebbinghaus (1885): Carried out one of the earliest laboratory experiments
investigating cognition
Two Principles that define the Cognitive LOA
Principle 1: Mental representations guide behaviour
Cognitive Psychologists believe that mental processes and stored
representations of the world determine behaviour is central to human experience
Useful to model mental processing using an information processing approach
whereby they investigate:
o How info is examined from the outside world is received and encoded
o How storage and representation of this information occurs by individuals
o The ways in which this information is manipulated and used by the individuals
o How we output information back into the world to be received by others
Computer analogy: The human mind is similar to a computer that both can be
seen as information processors. The brain is seen as the hardware and the mind,
thoughts and mental representations/images as the software. Both people and
computers can store, retrieve, transform, produce new and return information.
Topdown/bottomup processing: Information processing comes via the
bottomup processing, the sensory system. The information is processed in the
mind by topdown processing via prestored information (schemas) in the
memory. When the information is processed there is some output in the form of
behaviour.
Applications: Schema Theory operate through topdown processing
Principle 2: Mental processes can and should be studied scientifically
Cognitive Psychologists believe that the mind can be studied scientifically by
developing theories and by using a nos. of different scientific research methods
Mental processes/representations can be studied scientifically even if they
cannot be observed in the same way as behaviour:

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Testable theories can be developed and come from unobservable cognitive
structures/processes
Theories can be tested using an appropriate scientific experimental research
method
Applications: Models (Atkinson & Shiffrin), Studies of Brain damaged patients
(H.M & Clive Wearing)
Outcome 1: Evaluate Schema theory with reference to research
studies
Schema Theory: How knowledge is stored and organized in our memory
Schema: an actively organized packet of information about the world, events or
people stored in LTM.…read more

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Rationalization: The process of making the story conform to the cultural
expectations of the participants
Evaluation:
o Methodology:
Laboratory study: limited ecological validity
Time intervals at which participants reproduced the stories not held constant
Low ecological validity: unfamiliar story to English participants, not similar to real
life
Rejected the artificiality of traditional stimulus (e.g. nonsense syllables, word
lists) to test memory. However, the use of a narrative American folk tale was
`about as similar to normal prose as nonsense syllables are to words'.…read more

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Results:
o The information that was irrelevant to their original perspective (schema) was
actually learnt (encoded)
o The information was not accessible (recalled) unless a relevant perspective
(schema) was activated
Encode: To transform an item from one to another
Recall: The process of retrieving information from memory
Evaluation:
o Conducted in a laboratory: Ecological validity may be an issue
o Strength: Strict control of variables, which allowed researchers to establish a
causeandeffect relationship of how schemas affect memory processes.…read more

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Sensory Stores
2. STM
3. LTM
o Organized in a linear fashion
Memory
Sensory Memory ( Attention) Short term ( Retrieval, Rehearsal) Long
Term
Control processes: Attention, retrieval & Rehearsal
The types of memory differ in:
1. Duration
2. Capacity
3.…read more

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Delaying recall by 30sec negates the regency effect causing recall of later words
to be similar to ones in the middle, however doesn't influence primacy effect
o Primacy effect occurs because words remembered from the beginning of the list
have already been stored in the LTM owing to greater rehearsal, while the words
at the ends of the list are still in the STM
o Distracter task reduces regency effects as it interferes with the transfer of the
words from the STM to LTM (preventing…read more

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Refers to the system for temporarily maintaining mental representation that are
relevant to the performance of a cognitive task in an active/attentive state
Central Executive:
o Limited capacity
o Any cognitively demanding task (e.g.…read more

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Second cognitive task: Repetitive tapping (control), Random nos. generation
(central executive), Pressing keys on keyboard in clockwise fashion (visuospatial
sketchpad), rapid repetition of the word seesaw (phonological loop)
o Findings: Selecting a chess move involves the visualspatial and the central
executive but not the phonological loop. Similar for stronger and weaker players.…read more

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High levels of cortisol & Memory
Cortisol: stress hormone secreted by the adrenal glands in response to
psysiological/psychological stress
Longterm stress to high levels of cortisol which affects immune functioning and
also memory processes
Chronic oversecretion of cortisol may hinder the brain in forming new memories
of accessing already existing
Lupien et al.…read more

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Welge (2009):
Examined the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) of 156 individuals for the quantity of
betaamyloid and tau
Procedure:
o A needle inserted into the lower back to collect the CSF and then is analysed for
the quantity of betaamyloid and tau proteins
o The less amyloid in the CSF the more likely of it is to be in the brain and the
greater chance of Alzheimers
o Having more tau in the CSF raises a person's risk
Findings:
o Technique is sensitive enough to accurately…read more

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