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UTD / Psychology / PSY 3361 / What is Cognitive Psychology?

What is Cognitive Psychology?

What is Cognitive Psychology?


School: University of Texas at Dallas
Department: Psychology
Course: Cognitive Psychology
Professor: Gagandeep wig
Term: Fall 2016
Cost: 50
Name: Exam 1 Study Guide (Cog. Psych)
Description: Here is a study guide I have compiled for Exam 1. I got most of the main points down, but please do not depend entirely on this, because there is still some information that is not included in the study guide from how detailed the chapters are, and be sure to read the textbook as well as the professor's slides and my notes as well!
Uploaded: 09/16/2016
14 Pages 4 Views 8 Unlocks


What is Cognitive Psychology?



1. Cognitive Psychology is concerned with how people remember, pay  attention and think  

∙ Most of what we do and think is guided by what we already know 2. Cogntivie Revolution-  

∙ 1950’s and 1960’s  

∙ New style initially intended for studying problems we’ve already  met, like memory loss  

∙ William Wundt and Edward Bradford  Psych needed to be  studied by conscious mental events like feelings, thoughts,  perceptions (notion died down because people realized a lot of  thoughts are unconscious)  

3. Introspection: The study of conscious experiences, “looking within”  Problem with Introspection: 1. Tells us nothing about our  unconscious experiences  

 2. Unable to be tested, it is not  objective  If you want to learn more check out what is contact force?

Behaviorism: Observable and objective data (1st half of 20th century)  1. Stimuli are measurable, recordable, physical events,  

Who proposed the Transcendental Method?

also objective  

2. Patterns can be recorded of behavior changes through  

passage of time and accumulation of experience  

Problem with Behaviorism: Our beliefs, wishes, goals and  expectations can’t be directly observed or recorded because our  thinking and behaviors are shaped by our perception or understanding  of events  

Cognitive Psychology: Focuses on observable events, but asks what  invisible events made the visible ones. Studying mental processes  indirectly

 Immanuel Kant- proposed the Transcendental Method- Beginning  with observable facts, then working backwards and seeing what caused them

Transcendental Method is the heart of modern science  

4. Working Memory- memory you use for information that you are actively working on

- Holds info at an easily accessible form, so that the information is at  your fingertips  

What is the study of biological basis for cognitive functioning?

Don't forget about the age old question of What is Epiglottis?

- Instant Availability is promoted by working memory’s size (Working  Memory has a small capacity -> measured by Span Test; average  span is 7 or 8  

- Working Memory is limited in size, also shows us how memory  influences observable performances  If you want to learn more check out What are the major classes of drugs?

- Theory: Working Memory is not a simple entity:  

∙ Central Executive- Analyzes and interprets information  ∙ Assistants- provides storage. Does not analyze and interpret  information. Stores information that will soon be needed, but  isn’t needed at the moment.  

ARTICULATORY REHEARSAL LOOP- One of the most important  assistants. Stores information by covert speech/silent speech (sub  vocalization- quietly saying the numbers to yourself)  

Executive initiates the silent speech, then turns to other matters like reading while the articulatory rehearsal loop does the work  

Loop requires sub-vocal speech and phonological buffer (inner ear,  briefly stores sounds)  

Sound-alike errors happen when using the Loop  

Concurrent Articulation Task:  

∙ When loop not available for use  

∙ Doing the span test while simultaneously saying “Tah Tah Tah” ∙ Cuts memory span to 3-5 items  

∙ Blocks sound-alike errors because these sound-alike errors are formed by the loop, and the loop is not used with concurrent  articulation  

∙ Choosing not easily named shapes has no effect on  

concurrent articulation since they cant be rehearsed via inner  voice and inner ear  

∙ Concurrent Articulation blocks use of loop but has no effect on someone’s ability to read brief sentences, do simple logic  

problems. Only effects storage!  

∙ Blocking Loop does have effect when reading more complex  sentences (requires analysis and storage= executive and  


Cognitive Neuroscience: The study of biological basis for cognitive  functioning (biological mechanisms that make performance possible) We also discuss several other topics like what is Geography?

Anarthria: Inability to produce overt speech  

These patients still show sound-alike errors, which proves that actual muscle  movements are not needed for subvocalization  

“Inner Speech” relies on brain areas responsible for planning and controlling  the muscle movements of speech and not on the actual movements  themselves  

Neuropsychology: How various forms of brain dysfunction influences  observed performances  

Deaf people rely on “inner hand” rather than “inner voice”  Working Memory System plays important role in learning new vocabulary or  new language  If you want to learn more check out What is stressor?


Capgras Syndrome:  

∙ Results from brain damage (Temporal Lobe, Frontal Lobe, Amygdala) ∙ Able to recognize loved ones, but believing that they are not who they  appear to be  If you want to learn more check out What is carrying capacity and how is it related to popula2on growth?

∙ Facial recognition involves two mechanisms: Factual knowledge and  emotional. In capgras patients, emotional mechanism is damaged  ∙ Damage to temporal lobe disrupts circuits in Amygdala (evaluates  emotions and positive stimuli and threats)

∙ Frontal Lobe (specifically Prefrontal Cortex)- Active when person  engaged in tasks of planning and careful analysis  

The Brain:  

∙ Glial Cells, outnumber nerve cells 0 to 1  

∙ Brain divided into 3 main parts:  

- Hindbrain- sits directly over spinal cord, controls heart beat and  breathing, maintains body posture and balance, life functions  a. Cerebellum: Largest area of hindbrain. Coordination of body  

movements and balance. Damage: Problems in spatial reasoning, discriminating sounds  

- Midbrain- Coordinates movements, regulates pain experience,  relays info from ears to interpret  

- Forebrain- Largest region.  

a. Cortex- outer surface of forebrain  

b. Thin covering on outer surface  

c. 3 mm thick  

d. if stretched out flat, it would be 2 feet

e. Cortex is crumpled to fit in head, which causes the convolutions  of the brain  

LONGITUDINAL FISSURE: deepest groove that runs from front  of brain to back, separates left cerebral hemisphere from the  right  

Fissures divide cortex in each hemisphere into 4 lobes. Named  after bones of skull that cover them: (OF FOREBRAIN)  

1. FRONTAL LOBES: front part of brain. Central fissure divides  frontal lobes from parietal lobes. Lateral Fissure divides  

bottom of frontal lobe from temporal lobe.  

2. PARIETAL LOBES: Brain’s Top  

3. TEMPORAL LOBES: Below Lateral fissure  

4. OCCIPITAL LOBES: Very back of brain. Connected to Parietal  and Temporal Lobes.  


- Under cortex  

- 1. Thalamus: relay station for sensory info  

- 2. Hypothalamus: Directly under thalamus, controls motivated  behaviors like eating, drinking, sexual acts  

- 3. Limbic System: surrounds thalamus and hypothalamus. Amygdala  (emotional processing, emotional events) and Hippocampus are here  (under cortex in temporal lobe)  

Everything in brain comes in pairs: left and right hippocampus, left and right  amygdala, temporal cortex in left and right  


1. Made possible by commissures- think bundles of fibers that carry  information back and forth between hemispheres.  

2. Corpus Callosum- Largest commissure  

- Separation of corpus callosum for epilepsy procedures, stops  epilepsy but limits communication between right and left halves  - Left hemisphere sees right visual field and produces language  - Right hemisphere sees left visual field and controls left hand  - (Spoon on left field, Fork on right):  

When a split brain patient is asked what he sees, the left  

hemisphere sees the fork and vocalizes that

Right hemisphere sees the spoon but can’t vocalize that.  

However, if asked to pick up the object he vocalizes, he will pick  the spoon.  



1. studying individuals with brain damage (Neuropsychology)  2. Clinical Neuropsychology: studies functioning of undamaged brains by  looking at cases of brain damage  


A specific area of damage to the brain  

Lesion in Hippocampus: Memory problems  

Lesion in occipital cortex: problems in vision, not in other senses, just vision  

Consequences of lesions depend on which hemisphere is damaged:  Damage to left frontal lobe- language disruption  

Damage to right: not the same effect as left  


1. Communicate through neurotransmitters  

2. Neuron activated  

3. Released NT

4. NT activates or deactivates adjacent neurons  

5. Adjacent neuron receives signal and passes it on  

2 Types of Neuron Communication:  

1. “Between Neurons” (what is described above)  

2. “Within Neurons”- Neurons have input and output ends, input: most  sensitive to NT, where signal from other NT is received, output: releases NT

3. NT flows from input to output through electrical impulses by flow of  ions  

Localization of Function: A research effort that’s main goal is determining  what happens where in the brain  

Cerebral Cortex: Largest portion of human brain, thin layer of tissue covering cerebrum, this is where information processing occurs  

- Motor Areas: Organizing and controlling body movements  - Sensory Areas: Analyzing info collected from senses  

- Association Areas: Thinking, other essential human activity

Motor Areas:  

1. Departure Points: signals leaving cortex  

2. Arrival Points: information coming from senses  

3. Both these areas are called Primary Projection Areas:  4. Primary Motor Projection Areas: Departure Points (Evidence  comes from contralateral control)  

5. Primary Sensory Projection Areas: Arrival Points  

Sensory Areas:  

1. Parietal Lobe  Touching and skin sensing  

2. Temporal Lobe  auditory hearing area  

3. Occipital Lobes  vision area  

Assignment of how much cortical space each sense receives is chosen by  function, not sizeable proportions (more sensitive body areas like fingers or  lips get more cortical space)  

In occipital lobes, the fovea has the highest cortical space (fovea: most  sensitive to detail)  

Contralateral Connections:  

Visual areas in right hemisphere: receive info from both left and right eye,  but info it receives corresponds to left visual space  


Glia: development of nervous system in infants, repairs if nervous system is  damaged, controls nutrient flow to neurons  


1. Cell Body: contains neurons nucleus  

2. Dendrites: input side of neuron, receives signals

3. Axon: output side of neuron, sends signals  

4. Synapse: chemical signal makes neuron communication possible  5. Neurons don’t directly touch each other

6. Synaptic Gap: space between neurons  

7. Presynaptic Membrane: part of neuron that releases the NT into  synaptic gap

8. Postsynaptic Membrane: part of neuron on other side of gap, affected  by NT  

9. Incoming signal from presyn. Gap reaches postsyn. Gap threshold  cell fires and produces action potential (signal moves down axon)  releases NT at next synapse

10. Incoming signal can cause a small ionic flow or a big one, but  when a neuron fires a signal down the axon, it is always the same  magnitude (ALL OR NOTHING LAW- STRONGER STIMULUS WILL NOT  PRODUCE A STRONGER ACTION POTENTIAL)  


1. Light hits front surface of eyeball  

2. Passees through cornea and lens

3. Hits retina  


2 types of photoreceptors:  

1. Rods- sensitive to low levels of light, uses in semidarkness or dim  areas, colorblind (no hue difference), used in peripheral vision 2. Cones- less sensitive than rods, needs more light, sensitive to color  differences, allows us to see fine details, Higher Acuity  

Fovea: center of retina. Cones > Rods. Greatest acuity  

Further away from fovea: more rods, less cones  

Lateral Inhibition:  

Rods and cones don’t report to cortex directly  

Stimulated cells inhibit activity of neighbor cells

Lateral inhibition leads to stronger cell response from edge of surface than  from cells detecting from middle of surface  

Edge Enhancement: Helps visual system see shapes coming in  Occurs at very early stage of visual processing  

Info sent to brain not a mere copy of the signal, but an analysis  

Cell’s Receptive Field: size and shape of the area in visual world to which a  cell responds  

Edge Detectors: Fire @ max only when stimulus containing edge of perfect  orientation appears in receptive fields  

Parallel Processing- many different steps happen simultaneously; this is  how the brain functions. Advantage: Speed and mutual influence  

“What System”- occipital lobe, identification of visual objects “Where System”- occipital lobe, guides our actions based on where objects  are located  

Binding Problem: Task of reuniting various elements of a scene, elements  that are initially dealt with in separate parts of the brain

- Spatial position (which forms are where, which colors are where, this is  how we get the right colors for objects), neural synchrony (if neurons  detecting a vertical line fires in sync with neurons registering for  movement, then it must belong to same object), special rhythm to  identify which sensory elements belong to which  

- Conjunction errors caused by lack of attention  

- Attention is important for binding problem and is linked to neural  syncing  


Form Perception: process thru which you manage to see the basic shape  and size of an object  

Object Recognition: process in which you identify what the object is  

Figure/Ground Perception: determine what is the object and what is the  background  

(reversible cube example)  

Your perception goes beyond the information that is given  

Perceptions are guided by  

1. Proximity (elements close to each other)

2. Similarity (elements look like each other)  

Everyone’s perceptions are guided by same principles, but we impose our  own interpretation on perception  


1. Seems to happen before we catalogue the objects basic features, not  after (like previously believed)  

2. In reality, neither process goes first  

3. Areas of brain all work together simultaneously  

4. Areas of brain that sees basic object features work together at same  time as brain areas analyzing object  

Recognition of objects is influenced by context in which objects are  encountered  

2 Influences:  

1. Bottom-Up Influences: coming from stimulus, features themselves  2. Top-Down Influences: comes from your knowledge and expectations  

Fast when finding simple features, slower when asked to find combo of  features

Integrative Agnosia: able to simply detect features in display, unable to  judge how these features are combined to form objects  

Factors influencing recognition:  

1. Familiarity and frequency  

2. Recency of view  

Words themselves are easier to view than isolated letters- Word Superiority Effect  

The more English-like the string of words, the increased context benefit (how  the letter sequence conforms to actual English spelling)  easier to recognize

Context promotes better letter recognition if context follows normal spelling  Abnormal spelling: no letter recognition  

Our recognition is guided by knowledge of spelling patterns  

Feature nets:

bottom layer, flow of info would be lower levels  upper levels  Each detector has an activation level  

When detector gets input, activation level goes up  

Act. Level eventually reaches detector’s Response Threshold  This causes detectors to fire (send signal to other detectors)  

Similar to neurons!  

Some detectors easier to activate than others  

1. If detectors is moderately activates @ start  only little input needed to raise threshold, easier to fire  

2. If detector not activated  strong input needed, more difficult to fire  What determines starting level?  

1. Detectors that have fired recently  High Activation Level  2. Detectors that have fired frequently in the past  High Activation Level  Activation level depends on recency and frequency which = PRIMIING

Crucial to priming: knowledge derived from wide range of life experiences  

- Network relies on knowledge when interpreting ambiguous messages  - The knowledge isn’t stored anywhere, it is simply more primed  The better primed the detector, the more it will likely respond  Detectors can also inhibit each other  

Higher level detectors can influence lower level detectors, and detectors at  any level can influence other detectors at same level

Visual processing and detector priming is not a one-way process  Recognition of components:  


- Includes detectors that are sensitive to geons (geometric icons),  which serve as basic building blocks of all objects we recognize  - Uses a hierarchy of detectors

1. Feature detectors (lowest level) responds to edges, curves  2. Activates geon detectors  

3. Activates geon assembly  

4. Activates object model (completed object)  

Recognition based on geons is viewpoint-independent (doesn’t matter which  way you look at the object), objects can be recognized from just a few geons  

Geons help in recognition  


1. We have stored memory of a number of different views of each object  2. Number of views stored is limited  

3. Must rotate current view to match stored views from memory  4. This claims that speed of recognition is viewpoint-dependent  (recognition is faster from some angles more than others)  5. Hierarchy of detectors  

6. Each higher layer gathers more complex aspects of the whole  BOTH THEORIES INVOLVE HEIRARCHIAL NETWORK OF DETECTORS  

Face Recognition is different:  

Agnosia: inability to recognize certain stimuli  

Prosopagnosia: lose ability to recognize faces, even though other visual  abilities are intact  

- Proves that special neural structure is involved almost exclusiviely for  facial rec.  


Neural tissue specialized for faces isn’t used only for faces, can operate  when a task involves recognizing specific individuals in a category (like birds  or cars)  

Category must be an extremely familiar one  

Face Rec. does not depend on recognizing parts, then assembling into a  whole. It depends on Holistic Perception of face -> complex relationships  created by face’s overall configuration  

(Relationships of features guide recognition, not individual features)  


1. Dichotic Listening: when participants wear headphones and hear 1  thing in left ear and 1 thing in right and choose to pay attention to one  input (main channel) and ignore unattended channel  

2. People did not know what was said in unattended channel, unless  words of some personal importance are mentioned- Cocktail Party  Effect  

Bottle-Neck Theory- we erect a filter that shields you from potential  distractors, desired info is not filtered out

You block processing of distractors and promote processing of desired stimuli

Inattentional Blindness

1. Failure to see whats right in front of you bc you are not expecting  stimulus to appear and were not prepared for stimulus  

Our normal ability to see whats around us is dramatically decreased with lack of attention  

There is no conscious perception without attention, you may unconsciously  detect and be influenced by patterns in the world, even with absence of  attention

Change Blindness- inability to detect changes in scenes they are looking at directly  

1. Early Selection Hypothesis- The attended input is identified from the  start so unattended input receives less analysis  

- Distractor stimuli receives little analysis, and falls out of processing  stream  

2. Late Selection Hypothesis: All inputs receive complete analysis and  selection is done right before stimuli reaches consciousness  -People are unaware of unattended stimuli, but are still influenced by  them

Each hypothesis has some truth to it

Evidence comes from recording electrical brain activity after stimulus arrives  

Early Selection: complex inputs  processing demands increases effort and  decreases resources  little effort left over for other stimuli  

Late Selection: attended input  processing demands decreases resources  more effort for unattended  

Why people experience inattentional blindness:  

People don’t expect stimulus to appear, no reason to prepare for stimulus,  stimulus falls on unprepared detectors, detectors don’t respond  

Cocktail effect: detectors for your name are primed because of how much  you’ve encountered it, which means high activation level already for the  detectors, so little input is needed to fire them  

2 types of priming:  

1. Experiences- takes no effort, requires no resources, allows you to hear  your name in unattended channel

2. Deliberately Primed Detectors: under your control, dependent on  expectations, only done for inputs you have an interest in  

Priming wrong detectors takes nothing away from other detectors, each  detectors works independently of the others  

1. Stimulus-Based prime: produced merely by presentation of the  priming stimulus, with no role for expectations- priming wrong  detectors does not affect others  

2. Expectation-Based: created only when participant believes the prime allows a prediction of whats to come- here, priming wrong detectors  takes away from other detectors  

EXPECTATION-BASED PRIMING IS LIMITED CAPACITY SYSTEM  Bc perceiving involves work and work requires limited mental resources  Spatial attention is limited capacity and influenced by expectations  

Spatial Attention: the ability to focus on a particular position in space and  be better prepared for any stimulus that appears in that position  


Unilateral Neglect Syndrome: Spatial Neglect:  

- These patients ignore all input coming from 1 side of the body  - Caused by brain damage to parietal cortex  

- Results from damage to right parietal lobe, and neglect is on left side  of space  

- Supports a space based account of attention, not object boundaries  

Symptoms of neglect syndrome reveal that  

1. Patients neglect ½ of space (spatially defined bias) 2. However, once attention is directed towards a target, the  target itself defines the focus of attention (object-based)  

People with intact brains show a mix of space-based and object based attention  

Set Size:  

When searching for a target defined by a single feature, set size has little  effect

When looking for something with a combo of features (the red horizontal line  in a huge set of green and red vertical and horizontal lines)= set size has  large effect  


Divided Attention  


1. Tasks require resources

2. Resources are limited  

3. Reading and listening to a lecture require the same tasks (language  resources) so multi-tasking these makes resources compete  4. Knitting and listening to lecture require different kinds of resources, so  multi-tasking works  

5. Multitasking is easier if simultaneous tasks are different  6. General Resources- drawn on by almost every task (why driving and  talking on the phone is conflicting), which includes an energy supply, a  response selector (plays a key role in coordinating the timing of our  various activities), and executive control (needed when you want to  change your habits)  

7. Exact resource demand depends on nature of the task, novelty of the  task, and amount of flexibility the task requires

8. Attention is an achievements, not a skill or mechanism  9.

Tasks will interfere with each other if demand for resources >  supply  

1. Practice decreases Resource Demand  

2. Practice makes multi-tasking easier  

3. Practice allows us to focus on each element of a single task, to  master it element by element  

4. Practice can also make a task difficult to control since it  becomes automated  

5. When you develop routines and habits, decreases need for  executive control, which decreases the amount of moment-by moment control you have  

Tasks that are heavily practiced can reach a state of automaticity  Advantage of automaticity:  

Frees up resources for other chores, improves performance  Downsides:  

Not governed by control mechanisms, so they can act as mental reflexes

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