Cognitive psychology

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Cognitive psychology is the scientific study of mental processes such as "attention, language use, memory, perception, problem solving, creativity, and thinking". [1]

Contents

The origin of cognitive psychology occurred in the 1960s in a break from behaviorism, which had held from the 1920s to 1950s that unobservable mental processes were outside of the realm of empirical science. This break came as researchers in linguistics and cybernetics as well as applied psychology used models of mental processing to explain human behavior. Such research became possible due to the advances in technology that allowed for measurement of brain activity.

Much of the work derived from cognitive psychology has been integrated into other branches of psychology and various other modern disciplines such as cognitive science, linguistics, and economics.

The domain of cognitive psychology overlaps with that of cognitive science, which takes a more interdisciplinary approach and includes studies of non-human subjects and artificial intelligence.

History

Philosophically, ruminations of the human mind and its processes have been around since the times of the ancient Greeks. In 387 BCE, Plato is known to have suggested that the brain was the seat of the mental processes. [2] In 1637, René Descartes posited that humans are born with innate ideas, and forwarded the idea of mind-body dualism, which would come to be known as substance dualism (essentially the idea that the mind and the body are two separate substances). [3] From that time, major debates ensued through the 19th century regarding whether human thought was solely experiential (empiricism), or included innate knowledge (rationalism). Some of those involved in this debate included George Berkeley and John Locke on the side of empiricism, and Immanuel Kant on the side of nativism. [4]

With the philosophical debate continuing, the mid to late 19th century was a critical time in the development of psychology as a scientific discipline. Two discoveries that would later play substantial roles in cognitive psychology were Paul Broca's discovery of the area of the brain largely responsible for language production, [3] and Carl Wernicke's discovery of an area thought to be mostly responsible for comprehension of language. [5] Both areas were subsequently formally named for their founders and disruptions of an individual's language production or comprehension due to trauma or malformation in these areas have come to commonly be known as Broca's aphasia and Wernicke's aphasia.

From the 1920s to the 1950s, the main approach to psychology was behaviorism. Initially, its adherents viewed mental events such as thoughts, ideas, attention, and consciousness as unobservables, hence outside the realm of a science of psychology. One pioneer of cognitive psychology, who worked outside the boundaries (both intellectual and geographical) of behaviorism was Jean Piaget. From 1926 to the 1950s and into the 1980s, he studied the thoughts, language, and intelligence of children and adults. [6]

In the mid-20th century, three main influences arose that would inspire and shape cognitive psychology as a formal school of thought:

Ulric Neisser put the term "cognitive psychology" into common use through his book Cognitive Psychology, published in 1967. [9] Neisser's definition of "cognition" illustrates the then-progressive concept of cognitive processes:

The term "cognition" refers to all processes by which the sensory input is transformed, reduced, elaborated, stored, recovered, and used. It is concerned with these processes even when they operate in the absence of relevant stimulation, as in images and hallucinations. ... Given such a sweeping definition, it is apparent that cognition is involved in everything a human being might possibly do; that every psychological phenomenon is a cognitive phenomenon. But although cognitive psychology is concerned with all human activity rather than some fraction of it, the concern is from a particular point of view. Other viewpoints are equally legitimate and necessary. Dynamic psychology, which begins with motives rather than with sensory input, is a case in point. Instead of asking how a man's actions and experiences result from what he saw, remembered, or believed, the dynamic psychologist asks how they follow from the subject's goals, needs, or instincts. [9]

Cognitive processes

The main focus of cognitive psychologists is on the mental processes that affect behavior. Those processes include, but are not limited to, the following three stages of memory:

1-sensory memory storage: holds sensory information

2-short term memory storage: holds information temporarily for analysis and retrieves information from the Long term memory.

3- Long term memory: holds information over an extended period of time which receives information from the short term memory.

Attention

The psychological definition of attention is "a state of focused awareness on a subset of the available perceptual information". [10] A key function of attention is to identify irrelevant data and filter it out, enabling significant data to be distributed to the other mental processes. [4] For example, the human brain may simultaneously receive auditory, visual, olfactory, taste, and tactile information. The brain is able to consciously handle only a small subset of this information, and this is accomplished through the attentional processes. [4]

Attention can be divided into two major attentional systems: exogenous control and endogenous control. [11] Exogenous control works in a bottom-up manner and is responsible for orienting reflex, and pop-out effects. [11] Endogenous control works top-down and is the more deliberate attentional system, responsible for divided attention and conscious processing. [11]

One major focal point relating to attention within the field of cognitive psychology is the concept of divided attention. A number of early studies dealt with the ability of a person wearing headphones to discern meaningful conversation when presented with different messages into each ear; this is known as the dichotic listening task. [4] Key findings involved an increased understanding of the mind's ability to both focus on one message, while still being somewhat aware of information being taken in from the ear not being consciously attended to. E.g., participants (wearing earphones) may be told that they will be hearing separate messages in each ear and that they are expected to attend only to information related to basketball. When the experiment starts, the message about basketball will be presented to the left ear and non-relevant information will be presented to the right ear. At some point the message related to basketball will switch to the right ear and the non-relevant information to the left ear. When this happens, the listener is usually able to repeat the entire message at the end, having attended to the left or right ear only when it was appropriate. [4] The ability to attend to one conversation in the face of many is known as the cocktail party effect.

Other major findings include that participants can't comprehend both passages, when shadowing one passage, they can't report content of the unattended message, they can shadow a message better if the pitches in each ear are different. [12] However, while deep processing doesn't occur, early sensory processing does. Subjects did notice if the pitch of the unattended message changed or if it ceased altogether, and some even oriented to the unattended message if their name was mentioned. [12]

Memory

The two main types of memory are short-term memory and long-term memory; however, short-term memory has become better understood to be working memory. Cognitive psychologists often study memory in terms of working memory.

Working memory

Though working memory is often thought of as just short-term memory, it is more clearly defined as the ability to process and maintain temporary information in a wide range of everyday activities in the face of distraction. The famously known capacity of memory of 7 plus or minus 2 is a combination of both memory in working memory and long term memory.

One of the classic experiments is by Ebbinghaus, who found the serial position effect where information from the beginning and end of list of random words were better recalled than those in the center. [13] This primacy and recency effect varies in intensity based on list length. [13] Its typical U-shaped curve can be disrupted by an attention-grabbing word; this is known as the Von Restorff effect.

The Baddeley & Hitch Model of Working Memory Working-memory-en.svg
The Baddeley & Hitch Model of Working Memory

Many models of working memory have been made. One of the most regarded is the Baddeley and Hitch model of working memory. It takes into account both visual and auditory stimuli, long-term memory to use as a reference, and a central processor to combine and understand it all.

A large part of memory is forgetting, and there is a large debate among psychologists of decay theory versus interference theory.

Long-term memory

Modern conceptions of memory are usually about long-term memory and break it down into three main sub-classes. These three classes are somewhat hierarchical in nature, in terms of the level of conscious thought related to their use. [14]

  • Procedural memory is memory for the performance of particular types of action. It is often activated on a subconscious level, or at most requires a minimal amount of conscious effort. [15] Procedural memory includes stimulus-response-type information, which is activated through association with particular tasks, routines, etc. A person is using procedural knowledge when they seemingly "automatically" respond in a particular manner to a particular situation or process. [14] An example is driving a car.
  • Semantic memory is the encyclopedic knowledge that a person possesses. Knowledge like what the Eiffel Tower looks like, or the name of a friend from sixth grade, represent semantic memory. Access of semantic memory ranges from slightly to extremely effortful, depending on a number of variables including but not limited to recency of encoding of the information, number of associations it has to other information, frequency of access, and levels of meaning (how deeply it was processed when it was encoded). [14]
  • Episodic memory is the memory of autobiographical events that can be explicitly stated. It contains all memories that are temporal in nature, such as when one last brushed one's teeth or where one was when one heard about a major news event. Episodic memory typically requires the deepest level of conscious thought, as it often pulls together semantic memory and temporal information to formulate the entire memory. [14]

Perception

Perception involves both the physical senses (sight, smell, hearing, taste, touch, and proprioception) as well as the cognitive processes involved in interpreting those senses. Essentially, it is how people come to understand the world around them through interpretation of stimuli. [16] Early psychologists like Edward B. Titchener began to work with perception in their structuralist approach to psychology. Structuralism dealt heavily with trying to reduce human thought (or "consciousness," as Titchener would have called it) into its most basic elements by gaining understanding of how an individual perceives particular stimuli. [17]

Current perspectives on perception within cognitive psychology tend to focus on particular ways in which the human mind interprets stimuli from the senses and how these interpretations affect behavior. An example of the way in which modern psychologists approach the study of perception is the research being done at the Center for Ecological Study of Perception and Action at the University of Connecticut (CESPA). One study at CESPA concerns ways in which individuals perceive their physical environment and how that influences their navigation through that environment. [18]

Language

Psychologists have had an interest in the cognitive processes involved with language that dates back to the 1870s, when Carl Wernicke proposed a model for the mental processing of language. [19] Current work on language within the field of cognitive psychology varies widely. Cognitive psychologists may study language acquisition, [20] individual components of language formation (like phonemes), [21] how language use is involved in mood, or numerous other related areas.

Broca's and Wernicke's areas of the brain, which are critical in language BrocasAreaSmall.png
Broca's and Wernicke's areas of the brain, which are critical in language

Significant work has been done recently with regard to understanding the timing of language acquisition and how it can be used to determine if a child has, or is at risk of, developing a learning disability. A study from 2012, showed that while this can be an effective strategy, it is important that those making evaluations include all relevant information when making their assessments. Factors such as individual variability, socioeconomic status, short-term and long-term memory capacity, and others must be included in order to make valid assessments. [20]

Metacognition

Metacognition, in a broad sense, is the thoughts that a person has about their own thoughts. More specifically, metacognition includes things like:

Much of the current study regarding metacognition within the field of cognitive psychology deals with its application within the area of education. Being able to increase a student's metacognitive abilities has been shown to have a significant impact on their learning and study habits. [23] One key aspect of this concept is the improvement of students' ability to set goals and self-regulate effectively to meet those goals. As a part of this process, it is also important to ensure that students are realistically evaluating their personal degree of knowledge and setting realistic goals (another metacognitive task). [24]

Common phenomena related to metacognition include:

Modern perspectives

Modern perspectives on cognitive psychology generally address cognition as a dual process theory, expounded upon by Daniel Kahneman in 2011. [25] Kahneman differentiated the two styles of processing more, calling them intuition and reasoning. Intuition (or system 1), similar to associative reasoning, was determined to be fast and automatic, usually with strong emotional bonds included in the reasoning process. Kahneman said that this kind of reasoning was based on formed habits and very difficult to change or manipulate. Reasoning (or system 2) was slower and much more volatile, being subject to conscious judgments and attitudes. [25]

Applications

Abnormal psychology

Following the cognitive revolution, and as a result of many of the principal discoveries to come out of the field of cognitive psychology, the discipline of cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) evolved. Aaron T. Beck is generally regarded as the father of cognitive therapy, a particular type of CBT treatment. [26] His work in the areas of recognition and treatment of depression has gained worldwide recognition. In his 1987 book titled Cognitive Therapy of Depression, Beck puts forth three salient points with regard to his reasoning for the treatment of depression by means of therapy or therapy and antidepressants versus using a pharmacological-only approach:

1. Despite the prevalent use of antidepressants, the fact remains that not all patients respond to them. Beck cites (in 1987) that only 60 to 65% of patients respond to antidepressants, and recent meta-analyses (a statistical breakdown of multiple studies) show very similar numbers. [27]
2. Many of those who do respond to antidepressants end up not taking their medications, for various reasons. They may develop side-effects or have some form of personal objection to taking the drugs.
3. Beck posits that the use of psychotropic drugs may lead to an eventual breakdown in the individual's coping mechanisms. His theory is that the person essentially becomes reliant on the medication as a means of improving mood and fails to practice those coping techniques typically practiced by healthy individuals to alleviate the effects of depressive symptoms. By failing to do so, once the patient is weaned off of the antidepressants, they often are unable to cope with normal levels of depressed mood and feel driven to reinstate use of the antidepressants. [28]

Social psychology

Many facets of modern social psychology have roots in research done within the field of cognitive psychology.[ citation needed ] [29] Social cognition is a specific sub-set of social psychology that concentrates on processes that have been of particular focus within cognitive psychology, specifically applied to human interactions. Gordon B. Moskowitz defines social cognition as "... the study of the mental processes involved in perceiving, attending to, remembering, thinking about, and making sense of the people in our social world". [30]

The development of multiple social information processing (SIP) models has been influential in studies involving aggressive and anti-social behavior. Kenneth Dodge's SIP model is one of, if not the most, empirically supported models relating to aggression. Among his research, Dodge posits that children who possess a greater ability to process social information more often display higher levels of socially acceptable behavior. His model asserts that there are five steps that an individual proceeds through when evaluating interactions with other individuals and that how the person interprets cues is key to their reactionary process. [31]

Developmental psychology

Many of the prominent names in the field of developmental psychology base their understanding of development on cognitive models. One of the major paradigms of developmental psychology, the Theory of Mind (ToM), deals specifically with the ability of an individual to effectively understand and attribute cognition to those around them. This concept typically becomes fully apparent in children between the ages of 4 and 6. Essentially, before the child develops ToM, they are unable to understand that those around them can have different thoughts, ideas, or feelings than themselves. The development of ToM is a matter of metacognition, or thinking about one's thoughts. The child must be able to recognize that they have their own thoughts and in turn, that others possess thoughts of their own. [32]

One of the foremost minds with regard to developmental psychology, Jean Piaget, focused much of his attention on cognitive development from birth through adulthood. Though there have been considerable challenges to parts of his stages of cognitive development, they remain a staple in the realm of education. Piaget's concepts and ideas predated the cognitive revolution but inspired a wealth of research in the field of cognitive psychology and many of his principles have been blended with modern theory to synthesize the predominant views of today. [33]

Educational psychology

Modern theories of education have applied many concepts that are focal points of cognitive psychology. Some of the most prominent concepts include:

Personality psychology

Cognitive therapeutic approaches have received considerable attention in the treatment of personality disorders in recent years. The approach focuses on the formation of what it believes to be faulty schemata, centralized on judgmental biases and general cognitive errors. [35]

Cognitive psychology vs. cognitive science

The line between cognitive psychology and cognitive science can be blurry. Cognitive psychology is better understood as predominantly concerned with applied psychology and the understanding of psychological phenomena. Cognitive psychologists are often heavily involved in running psychological experiments involving human participants, with the goal of gathering information related to how the human mind takes in, processes, and acts upon inputs received from the outside world. [36] The information gained in this area is then often used in the applied field of clinical psychology.

Cognitive science is better understood as predominantly concerned with a much broader scope, with links to philosophy, linguistics, anthropology, neuroscience, and particularly with artificial intelligence. It could be said that cognitive science provides the corpus of information feeding the theories used by cognitive psychologists. [37] Cognitive scientists' research sometimes involves non-human subjects, allowing them to delve into areas which would come under ethical scrutiny if performed on human participants. I.e., they may do research implanting devices in the brains of rats to track the firing of neurons while the rat performs a particular task. Cognitive science is highly involved in the area of artificial intelligence and its application to the understanding of mental processes.

Criticisms

Lack of cohesion

Some observers have suggested that as cognitive psychology became a movement during the 1970s, the intricacies of the phenomena and processes it examined meant it also began to lose cohesion as a field of study. In Psychology: Pythagoras to Present, for example, John Malone writes: "Examinations of late twentieth-century textbooks dealing with "cognitive psychology", "human cognition", "cognitive science" and the like quickly reveal that there are many, many varieties of cognitive psychology and very little agreement about exactly what may be its domain." [3] This misfortune produced competing models that questioned information-processing approaches to cognitive functioning such as Decision Making and Behavioral Science.

Lack of empirical support

In the early years of cognitive psychology, behaviorist critics held that the empiricism it pursued was incompatible with the concept of internal mental states; but cognitive neuroscience continues to gather evidence of direct correlations between physiological brain activity and putative mental states, endorsing the basis for cognitive psychology. [38]

There is however disagreement between neuropsychologists and cognitive psychologists. Cognitive psychology has produced models of cognition which are not supported by modern brain science. It is often the case that the advocates of different cognitive models form a dialectic relationship with one another thus affecting empirical research, with researchers siding with their favourite theory. For example, advocates of mental model theory have attempted to find evidence that deductive reasoning is based on image thinking, while the advocates of mental logic theory have tried to prove that it is based on verbal thinking, leading to a disorderly picture of the findings from brain imaging and brain lesion studies. When theoretical claims are put aside, the evidence shows that interaction depends on the type of task tested, whether visuospatially or linguistically oriented; but that there is also an aspect of reasoning which is not covered by either theory. [39]

Similarly, neurolinguists have found that it is easier to make sense of brain imaging studies when the theories are left aside. [40] [41] In the field of language cognition research, generative grammar has taken the position that language resides within its private cognitive module, while 'Cognitive Linguistics' goes to the opposite extreme by claiming that language is not an independent function, but operates on general cognitive capacities such as visual processing and motor skills. Consensus in neuropsychology however takes the middle position that, while language is a specialised function, it overlaps or interacts with visual processing. [39] [42] Nonetheless, much of the research in language cognition continues to be divided along the lines of generative grammar and Cognitive Linguistics; and this, again, affects adjacent research fields including language development and language acquisition. [43]

Major research areas

Categorization

Knowledge representation

Language

Memory

Perception

Thinking

Influential cognitive psychologists

See also

Related Research Articles

Cognitive science Interdisciplinary scientific study of the mind and its processes

Cognitive science is the interdisciplinary, scientific study of the mind and its processes. It examines the nature, the tasks, and the functions of cognition. Cognitive scientists study intelligence and behavior, with a focus on how nervous systems represent, process, and transform information. Mental faculties of concern to cognitive scientists include language, perception, memory, attention, reasoning, and emotion; to understand these faculties, cognitive scientists borrow from fields such as linguistics, psychology, artificial intelligence, philosophy, neuroscience, and anthropology. The typical analysis of cognitive science spans many levels of organization, from learning and decision to logic and planning; from neural circuitry to modular brain organization. One of the fundamental concepts of cognitive science is that "thinking can best be understood in terms of representational structures in the mind and computational procedures that operate on those structures."

Educational psychology is the branch of psychology concerned with the scientific study of human learning. The study of learning processes, from both cognitive and behavioral perspectives, allows researchers to understand individual differences in intelligence, cognitive development, affect, motivation, self-regulation, and self-concept, as well as their role in learning. The field of educational psychology relies heavily on quantitative methods, including testing and measurement, to enhance educational activities related to instructional design, classroom management, and assessment, which serve to facilitate learning processes in various educational settings across the lifespan.

Mind Combination of cognitive faculties that provide consciousness, thinking, reasoning, perception and judgement

The mind is the set of faculties including cognitive aspects such as consciousness, imagination, perception, thinking, intelligence, judgement, language and memory, as well as noncognitive aspects such as emotion and instinct. Under the scientific physicalist interpretation, the mind is produced at least in part by the brain. The primary competitors to the physicalist interpretations of the mind are idealism, substance dualism, and types of property dualism, and by some lights eliminative materialism and anomalous monism. There is a lengthy tradition in philosophy, religion, psychology, and cognitive science about what constitutes a mind and what are its distinguishing properties.

Thought Mental activity involving an individuals subjective consciousness

Thought encompasses an "aim-oriented flow of ideas and associations that can lead to a reality-oriented conclusion". Although thinking is an activity of an existential value for humans, there is still no consensus as to how it is adequately defined or understood.

Cognitive neuroscience is the scientific field that is concerned with the study of the biological processes and aspects that underlie cognition, with a specific focus on the neural connections in the brain which are involved in mental processes. It addresses the questions of how cognitive activities are affected or controlled by neural circuits in the brain. Cognitive neuroscience is a branch of both neuroscience and psychology, overlapping with disciplines such as behavioral neuroscience, cognitive psychology, physiological psychology and affective neuroscience. Cognitive neuroscience relies upon theories in cognitive science coupled with evidence from neurobiology, and computational modeling.

Jean Piaget Swiss psychologist, biologist, logician, philosopher and academic (1896-1980)

Jean Piaget was a Swiss psychologist known for his work on child development. Piaget's theory of cognitive development and epistemological view are together called "genetic epistemology".

Cognition Act or process of knowing

Cognition refers to "the mental action or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and the senses". It encompasses many aspects of intellectual functions and processes such as attention, the formation of knowledge, memory and working memory, judgment and evaluation, reasoning and "computation", problem solving and decision making, comprehension and production of language. Cognitive processes use existing knowledge and generate new knowledge.

Psychology is an academic and applied discipline involving the scientific study of human mental functions and behavior. Occasionally, in addition or opposition to employing the scientific method, it also relies on symbolic interpretation and critical analysis, although these traditions have tended to be less pronounced than in other social sciences, such as sociology. Psychologists study phenomena such as perception, cognition, emotion, personality, behavior, and interpersonal relationships. Some, especially depth psychologists, also study the unconscious mind.

In psychology, cognitivism is a theoretical framework for understanding the mind that gained credence in the 1950s. The movement was a response to behaviorism, which cognitivists said neglected to explain cognition. Cognitive psychology derived its name from the Latin cognoscere, referring to knowing and information, thus cognitive psychology is an information-processing psychology derived in part from earlier traditions of the investigation of thought and problem solving.

Cognitive development is a field of study in neuroscience and psychology focusing on a child's development in terms of information processing, conceptual resources, perceptual skill, language learning, and other aspects of the developed adult brain and cognitive psychology. Qualitative differences between how a child processes their waking experience and how an adult processes their waking experience are acknowledged. Cognitive development is defined as the emergence of the ability to consciously cognized, understand, and articulate their understanding in adult terms. Cognitive development is how a person perceives, thinks, and gains understanding of their world through the relations of genetic and learning factors. There are four stages to cognitive development information development, reasoning, intelligence, language, and memory. These stages start when the baby is about 18 months old, they play with toys, listen to their parents speak, they watch tv, anything that catches their attention helps build their cognitive development.

Metacognition is "cognition about cognition", "thinking about thinking", "knowing about knowing", becoming "aware of one's awareness" and higher-order thinking skills. The term comes from the root word meta, meaning "beyond", or "on top of". Metacognition can take many forms; it includes knowledge about when and how to use particular strategies for learning or problem-solving. There are generally two components of metacognition: (1) knowledge about cognition and (2) regulation of cognition.

Information processing theory is the approach to the study of cognitive development evolved out of the American experimental tradition in psychology. Developmental psychologists who adopt the information processing perspective account for mental development in terms of maturational changes in basic components of a child's mind. The theory is based on the idea that humans process the information they receive, rather than merely responding to stimuli. This perspective equates the mind to a computer, which is responsible for analyzing information from the environment. According to the standard information-processing model for mental development, the mind's machinery includes attention mechanisms for bringing information in, working memory for actively manipulating information, and long-term memory for passively holding information so that it can be used in the future. This theory addresses how as children grow, their brains likewise mature, leading to advances in their ability to process and respond to the information they received through their senses. The theory emphasizes a continuous pattern of development, in contrast with cognitive developmental theorists such as Jean Piaget's theory of cognitive development that thought development occurs in stages at a time.

Evolutionary educational psychology is the study of the relation between inherent folk knowledge and abilities and accompanying inferential and attributional biases as these influence academic learning in evolutionarily novel cultural contexts, such as schools and the industrial workplace. The fundamental premises and principles of this discipline are presented below.

Outline of thought Overview of and topical guide to thought

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to thought (thinking):

Domain-general learning theories of development suggest that humans are born with mechanisms in the brain that exist to support and guide learning on a broad level, regardless of the type of information being learned. Domain-general learning theories also recognize that although learning different types of new information may be processed in the same way and in the same areas of the brain, different domains also function interdependently. Because these generalized domains work together, skills developed from one learned activity may translate into benefits with skills not yet learned. Another facet of domain-general learning theories is that knowledge within domains is cumulative, and builds under these domains over time to contribute to our greater knowledge structure. Psychologists whose theories align with domain-general framework include developmental psychologist Jean Piaget, who theorized that people develop a global knowledge structure which contains cohesive, whole knowledge internalized from experience, and psychologist Charles Spearman, whose work led to a theory on the existence of a single factor accounting for all general cognitive ability.

Infant cognitive development is the first stage of human cognitive development, in the youngest children. The academic field of infant cognitive development studies of how psychological processes involved in thinking and knowing develop in young children. Information is acquired in a number of ways including through sight, sound, touch, taste, smell and language, all of which require processing by our cognitive system.

Neurodevelopmental framework for learning, like all frameworks, is an organizing structure through which learners and learning can be understood. Intelligence theories and neuropsychology inform many of them. The framework described below is a neurodevelopmental framework for learning. The neurodevelopmental framework was developed by the All Kinds of Minds Institute in collaboration with Dr. Mel Levine and the University of North Carolina's Clinical Center for the Study of Development and Learning. It is similar to other neuropsychological frameworks, including Alexander Luria's cultural-historical psychology and psychological activity theory, but also draws from disciplines such as speech-language pathology, occupational therapy, and physical therapy. It also shares components with other frameworks, some of which are listed below. However, it does not include a general intelligence factor, since the framework is used to describe learners in terms of profiles of strengths and weaknesses, as opposed to using labels, diagnoses, or broad ability levels. This framework was also developed to link with academic skills, such as reading and writing. Implications for education are discussed below as well as the connections to and compatibilities with several major educational policy issues.

Some of the research that is conducted in the field of psychology is more "fundamental" than the research conducted in the applied psychological disciplines, and does not necessarily have a direct application. The subdisciplines within psychology that can be thought to reflect a basic-science orientation include biological psychology, cognitive psychology, neuropsychology, and so on. Research in these subdisciplines is characterized by methodological rigor. The concern of psychology as a basic science is in understanding the laws and processes that underlie behavior, cognition, and emotion. Psychology as a basic science provides a foundation for applied psychology. Applied psychology, by contrast, involves the application of psychological principles and theories yielded up by the basic psychological sciences; these applications are aimed at overcoming problems or promoting well-being in areas such as mental and physical health and education.

Cognitive skills, also called cognitive functions, cognitive abilities or cognitive capacities, are brain-based skills which are needed in acquisition of knowledge, manipulation of information, and reasoning. They have more to do with the mechanisms of how people learn, remember, problem-solve, and pay attention, rather than with actual knowledge. Cognitive skills or functions encompass the domains of perception, attention, memory, learning, decision making, and language abilities.

Juan Pascual-Leone

Juan Pascual-Leone is a developmental neuropsychologist and the founder of the neo-Piagetian approach to cognitive development. He introduced this term to the literature and put forward key neo-Piagetian predictions about mental attention and working memory in the context of developmental growth.

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Further reading