Cognitive Approach to Psychology

Shane Galvin-061 AT-Applied Psychology Shane Galvin Class: 061/AT Applied Psychology Teacher: Carol Neenan Title: Psychological Perspective Word count: 3121 The Cognitive Approach to Psychology Contents Page 1 – Contents Page 2 – Introduction Page 3 – History Page 4 – Cognitive Psychology and Cognitive Science Page 6- Research methods i) iii) v) Reaction time Studies Eye Tracking Studies Psychophysics ii) iv) vi) Priming Studies Lateralisation Studies Single-Cell Studies Page 8 – Memory Storage and Models Page 10 – Therapeutic Applications Page 11 – Evaluation Page 12 – Bibliography Shane Galvin-061 AT-Applied Psychology The Cognitive Approach to Psychology What is Cognitive Psychology? Literally, ‘Cognition’ means knowing, but in the greater framework of Psychology, Cognition is thinking, perceiving information, understanding, construction and presentation of an answer to a question. Essentially, cognition is a term for the use of our mental processes. “Cognitive Psychology is the study of higher mental processes such as attention, language use, memory, perception, problem solving, and thinking. ” (Gerrig & Zimbardo. 2002) Cognitive Psychology uses scientific methods and scrutiny to develop a deeper understanding of the human mind, rather than the brain, a methodology perhaps adapted from Behaviourism, in which modern Cognitive Psychology holds its roots. Yet, unlike behaviourism, which only focuses on observable behaviour, Cognitive Psychology is also concerned with internal mental states. 2 Shane Galvin-061 AT-Applied Psychology History In 1932, Behaviourist Edward Tolman published his book “Purposive Behaviour in Animals and Men” In his works Tolman studied rats in a maze, in which food was placed at the end of the maze.
In the initial phase of a test, the rat would not be hungry while first entering the maze; this would allow the rat to learn where the food would be and to associate a certain location with the prospect of food. Of course, being armed with such a primal survival instinct would influence the rat to learn and adapt quickly. The rat would move in the general direction of the food as opposed to a specific pathway and Tolman observed that the rats were able to use untrained routes towards the food.
This meant that rats had an ability to learn, beyond mere survival instinct and presented a problem for radical behaviourism. Whether Tolman knew it or not, both he and his rats were laying down the groundwork for modern cognitive psychology. Tolman theorized that the animal had developed an image of its environment that it later used as a reference when finding its food. This is called a “Cognitive Map” i. e. , the rats showed use of their cognitive map by reaching a goal (food) from a number of different starting points.
The rats had no instinctive information of the maze and no stimuli that would condition it to have knowledge of the maze, in other words; the rats learned about their environment and stored the information. This helped to establish some basis for memory storage, learned behaviour and analytical methodology for Cognitive Psychology and would help Psychologists prepare for the “Cognitive Revolution” of the 1950’s where Cognitive Psychology and its principle areas of research begin to become defined. 3 Shane Galvin-061 AT-Applied Psychology
The Term “Cognitive Psychology” came into use in 1967 in the book Cognitive Psychology by Neisser. “… the term cognition refers to all processes by which the sensory input is transformed , reduced, elaborated, stored, recovered and used… it is apparent that cognition is involved in everything a human being might possibly do; that every psychological phenomena is a cognitive phenomena” (Neisser, 1967) Perhaps it was the invention of the computer that gave Cognitive Psychology the most credibility.
For the first time in history, mankind had something to which it could compare with the human brain or mind, and gave the cognitive approach its terminology. By being able to study a simpler artificial construct, psychologists now had the opportunity to learn more about cognitive processes. “Cognitive psychology focuses on the way humans process information, looking at how we treat information that comes in to the person (what behaviorists would call stimuli), and how this treatment leads to responses. In other words, they are interested in the variables that mediate between stimulus/input and response/output. (McLeod, 2007) Cognitive Psychology and Cognitive Science Part of the effect that the cognitive revolution had on its approach is the amalgamation of techniques and ideology’s from other distinct areas of research and study such as linguistics, computer science, developmental psychology and cognitive psychology. It seems as though it is a reaction to the ‘stimulus-response’ methodology and mode of interpretation espoused by behavioural scientists. Noam Chomsky theorised that the brain had a centre for language acquisition that went beyond what could be explained by behavioural psychology.
Jean Piaget had laid out stages of cognitive development that children go through which again could not be explained within the framework of Behaviourism. Computer scientists provided a new way of comparably examining the brain by using computer processing as a method to conceptualise brain processing. “These scientists maintained their own distinct methodologies… but they held together and remained united in their interest in cognition and in their goal to bring the scientific study of these processes to light. This scientific collective became known as cognitive science” (Solso, et al. 2008) In modern times cognitive science relies on computer science, philosophy, psychology, neuroscience, linguistics and anthropology. Cognitive science is heavily influenced by computer science; in computer modelling it is possible to construct and test cognitive models, in the form of artificial intelligence (AI) which has leaked into popular use in the form of interactive technology such as video gaming. 4 Shane Galvin-061 AT-Applied Psychology But it is of particular benefit to psychologists because they can test certain, although limited, cognitive models and theories based on computer models.
Cognitive Psychology uses a combination of techniques adapted from other areas of research in order to research its own theories, thus we have an intrinsic relationship between cognitive psychology and other methodologies as illustrated in Gardner’s Hexagon. The diverse range of methodologies in the cognitive approach allows researchers and clinical psychologists to approach problems, issues and hypotheses from a multitude of different backgrounds and allow a wider range of scrutiny to verify their findings in keeping with scientific inquiry.
Ultimately this allows the cognitive scientist/psychologist to create models of predictive capability that are reproducible which, in Psychology, allows for a greater understanding of the human mind and its mechanisms. 5 Shane Galvin-061 AT-Applied Psychology Research Method’s The research methods of cognitive psychology observe and record how we take in information from the physical world, the response time of reactions and how we process this information to perceive it. “The method’s of cognitive psychology stem from those used by early German researchers studying memory, association and processes.
These tools became a mainstay of experimental psychology. As cognitive psychology began to form and become interdisciplinary, methods from other research fields were borrowed and modified for use in the study of cognitive processes. Research methods are the tools by which we come to know and understand, as well as test ideas and develop new ones. ” (Solso, et al. , 2008) i) Reaction Time Studies: Reaction time studies are used to study cognitive processes and seem to be a defining methodology in the cognitive approach.
An example is Donder’s complication studies, in which a subject’s response speed to a white light being turned on was recorded and compared to a yellow light being turned on. Researchers believed early on that the time difference between the two responses could have been attributed to additional processing that it took to differentiate the yellow from the white light. “Reaction time studies fundamentally rely on the assumption that cognitive activity takes time and that one stage is completed before the other starts. ” (Solso, et al. , 2008) ii) Priming studies:
Priming studies have been used by psychologists for quite some time. With the invention of computer technology, specifically brain imaging technology, priming studies are becoming more popular. “In priming studies a stimulus is briefly presented (a prime) and then, after a delay, a second stimulus is presented and a participant is asked to make some judgement regarding the second stimulus, such as, “Is the second stimulus the ‘same’ as the first? ” (Solso, et al. , 2008) There are two types of priming effects. The Semantic priming Effect and the Object priming effect.
The Semantic priming effect is that by activating one item, the acceptability of the second item is enhanced. The Object priming effect is typically in two stages. The first stage is the presentation of an object. This is followed by an interval that may be as short as a millisecond or as long as several months. In the second stage an object similar to the first object is presented, it could be changed, degraded or rotated etc. The participants’ accuracy in remembering the first object is then measured and sometimes the reaction time is measured as well. Tulving & Schacter, 1990) 6 Shane Galvin-061 AT-Applied Psychology iii) Eye-Tracking studies: A large portion of the brain is used for interpreting and processing visual sensory information. Researchers have developed techniques to track the movement of eyes in order to determine where a person’s eye is fixed which in particular helps to study people reading, what sentence they are looking at and where they look next. Eye-tracking studies have helped researchers to discover that people who have dyslexia have different eye movements to people who do not have dyslexia. v) Lateralisation Studies Lateralisation studies developed from the idea that the two sides of the brain are responsible for different cognitive functions, in an effort to localise functions within the brain, Broca and Wernicke’s area’s ( centres that are responsible for speech and language) are located on one side of the brain, the left side, this implies that the brain has localised area’s for different functions, these studies were particularly important in the area of memory study and studies of amnesiac patients, through the methodology used in lateralisation studies, i. e. riming type tests, and brain imaging we know that the hippocampus is responsible for memory, although there are two hippocampi. There are also more invasive techniques used in lateralisation studies using patients with extreme epilepsy undergoing preventative surgery whereby the corpus collosum, the fibre’s which connect the hemispheres of the brain, are cut. v) Psychophysics Psychophysics is the scientific study of the relationship between stimuli and the sensations and perceptions evoked by these stimuli. (Solso, et al. , 2008) Psychophysicists are interested in perceptual thresholds.
For example in Weber’s study of perceptual threshold’s he tested a person’s ability to detect weight. If a person was holding a weighted object, how much weight could be added before the person could detect and perceive the difference in weight. vi) Single-cell Studies Single-cell studies are typically conducted in animals as opposed to humans because of their invasive nature. Hubel & Wiesel, who were awarded a Nobel Prize for their 1959 research, mapped the visual cortex of cats. This research involved the opening of the skull of the subject.
They had theorised that because single cells communicate with each other via electrical impulses then it would be possible to probe these single cells with a an extremely fine meter to measure the amount of electrical activity in a cell without damaging it, thereby allowing them to evaluate perceptual experience at a cellular level. Hubel & Wiesel basically restrained a cat , opened its skull, probed it’s brain and then showed the cat 7 Shane Galvin-061 AT-Applied Psychology moving images and kept probing until they could record the level of cellular electrical activity.
This gave us an insight into how we visual perceive the world and the physical action that takes place in the brain. (Solso, et al. , 2008) Memory, Storage and Models Cognitive Psychology is viewed as a pure science, its accepted theories on memory, for example, are based on laboratory experiments with demonstrable results as well as solid work in case studies. For example the Multi store Model (MSM) by Atkinson & Shiffrin (1968, 1971) cited by (McLeod, 2007) attempted to explain how information is transferred from Short Term Memory to Long Term Memory.
This model views sensory memory, STM and LTM as “permanent structural components” and suggests that memory is made up of a series of stores. MSM likens memory as information flowing through a system. Information is detected by the sense organs and enters the sensory memory. If attended to this information enters the short term memory. Information from the STM is transferred to the long-term memory only if that information is rehearsed. If rehearsal does not occur, then information is forgotten, lost from short term memory through the processes of displacement or decay. McLeod, 2007) This model has influenced the study and research of memory and is supported and informed by studies of retrograde and anterograde amnesia. The Working Model of Memory (Baddely & Hitch, 1974), shows that short term memory is more than one store and consists of different components. Similarly, in long term memory different kinds of memory such as addition/subtraction, how to play chess or what we did yesterday are not stored in one ‘hard-drive’ type long term memory store. There are different types of memory, episodic (memory of events), procedural (memory of how to do 8 Shane Galvin-061 AT-Applied Psychology hings) and semantic (general knowledge). This model of memory espouses that rehearsal is the process whereby by we transfer information into Long term memory but that it is not necessary to rehearse in some cases. . We know, now, that the part of the brain that deals with memory is the hippocampus; it is part of the limbic system and deals with short term memory and long term memory, as well as spatial functions, the hippocampus is shown in this diagram. As we can see, there are hippocampi; there is a hippocampus in both sides of the brain. The hippocampus is part of the cerebral cortex and is located in the medial temporal lobe.
Damage to the hippocampus can result in a person being unable to store new memories and is quite devastating to a person’s quality of life. In the case of Clive Wearing, based on Baddely, 1990; Blakemore 1988 as cited in (Gross, 2010), who suffered from anterograde amnesia, we can see the effects of damage to the hippocampus, in this case caused by a rare brain infection caused by the cold sore virus (Herpes Simplex). Mr. Wearing lives almost as if he is frozen in time, constantly believing he has just woken from years of unconscious sleep. He retains developed skills, for example he was the chorus master of the London Sinfonietta.
Unfortunately for Mr. Wearing his ability to recall memories from earlier in his life is extremely patchy, at best. Atkinson and Schiffrin regard the kind of memory Deficits displayed by Clive Wearing as ‘perhaps the single most convincing demonstration of a dichotomy in the memory system’ (Gross, 2010) 9 Shane Galvin-061 AT-Applied Psychology Therapeutic Applications Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is based on how our thoughts, feelings and behaviour all interact with each other; our thoughts influence our feelings and behaviour.
CBT helps the client to develop alternate ways of thinking and behaving in order to reduce psychological distress. Through reflective processes and tasks such as homework, the client’s maladaptive thought process and behaviour is challenged. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is a blanket term for different therapeutic interventions that share similar characteristics. Two therapies which form the basis of CBT are Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy, developed by Albert Ellis in the 1950s, and Cognitive Therapy, developed by Aaron T.
Beck in the 1960’s. Beck puts forward the argument that our emotional reactions are essentially a function of how we construe the world. “Depressed people see themselves as victims, and Beck sees them as victims of their own illogical self-judgements. Beck’s central idea is that depressed individuals feel as they do because their thinking is dominated by negative schemas. ” (Gross, 2010) Beck essentially implies that we interpret our reality by using our cognitive processes and our perception.
If our perceptions are skewed because our cognitive processes are maladaptive or our methods of reasoning are incorrect then our emotions and behaviour become distorted from reality. In order to correct emotional or psychological disturbances then we must seek to examine the root of the problem, viewing this through the lens of cognition means that we must correct our thought process in order to correct the symptomatic behavioural and emotional disorder. Beck uses method’s to treat a disorder depending on the disorder that the client suffers from. He stresses the importance of the quality of the relationship between the client and therapist.
Beck also places particular emphasis on the client discovering misconceptions for themselves. (McLeod, 2008) Albert Ellis’ Rational Emotional Behavioural Therapy is quite contrasting to Becks method. Ellis Proposes that the therapist should be a teacher and that a warm personal relationship is unnecessary. REBT can also be highly directive, persuasive and confrontational. REBT also uses different methods of approach to a client’s issue depending on the client’s personality. Human cognition can be held responsible for the individual’s successes and accomplishments, according to CBT cognition can also be held responsible for our problems. You are responsible for the outcome of the situation’ It emphasises control over one’s behaviour and emotions through correcting thought processes. The nature of Cognitive 10 Shane Galvin-061 AT-Applied Psychology Psychology/Science allow cognitive theories to be tested in a variety of situations, for example Rimm & Litvak’s 1969 (McLeod, 2008) study shows that When experimental subjects are manipulated into adopting unpleasant assumptions or thought they became more anxious and depressed.
Moreover, many people with diagnosed psychological disorders such as anxiety and sexual disorders have been found to display maladaptive thoughts and assumptions, making a case for the effectiveness of CBT. Aaron Beck’s work in researching depression and order disorders in clinical as well as laboratory settings and testing memory and other cognitive functions, and in particular his outcome studies have shown that CBT can be highly effective. CBT is also used in the treatment of drug abuse, bipolar disorder and in patients with cancer, HIV, OCD, PTSD and schizophrenia.
It has also been theoretically applied in the treatment of psychopathy. Evaluation/Personal Learning Upon examining the field of Cognitive Psychology, I have learned that cognitive Psychology is adaptive. It evolves with the times and incorporates new technologies, but also has a serious grounding in scientific methodology in order to correctly examine and understand the human mind. Cognitive Psychology is informed by the greater umbrella that is cognitive science. For example it uses information from computer science and neuroscience in order to better understand the cognitive processes that exist in the human brain.
Given that the ‘mind’ is not a physical entity; this style of scientific inquiry may be the best approach in understanding it. There is a good scientific framework underlying Cognitive psychology which then allows the Psychologist to move forward and deal with issues presented by the mind. As we can see in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, the therapist approaches the abstract nature of the mind by focusing on the underlying mental hierarchy. That being, Cognition, Emotion, Behaviour, in order to treat symptomatic issues, the therapist using this approach must deal with the thought processes that create these symptoms.
The most important lesson that I have learned is that, while the mind is an abstract construct and is quite difficult to quantify, quantifiable information about physical constructs such as the brain and general human biology and chemistry and its influences informs the understanding of the human mind. 11 Shane Galvin-061 AT-Applied Psychology Bibliography Baddely, A. & Hitch, G. , 1974. Working Memory. In: G. Bower, ed. The Psychology of Learning and Motivation: Advances in Research and Theory. New York: Academic Press, pp. 47-89.
Gerrig, R. J. & Zimbardo. , &. P. G. , 2002. Glossary. [Online] Available at: http://www. apa. org/research/action/glossary. aspx [Accessed 14 November 2012]. Gross, R. , 2010. Psychology The Science of Mind and Behaviour. 6th ed. London: HodderArnold. McLeod, S. , 2007. Atkinson and Shiffrin | Multi Store Model of Memory.. [Online] Available at: http://www. simplypsychology. org/multi-store. html [Accessed 16 November 2012]. McLeod, S. , 2007. http://www. simplypsychology. org/cognitive. html. [Online] Available at: fromhttp://www. implypsychology. org/cognitive-therapy. html [Accessed 10 November 2012]. McLeod, S. , 2008. Simply Psychology, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. [Online] Available at: http://www. simplypsychology. org/cognitive-therapy. html [Accessed 12 November 2012]. Neisser, U. , 1967. Cognitive Psychology. New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts. Solso, R. L. , Maclin, O. H. & Maclin, M. K. , 2008. Cognitive Psychology. 8th ed. Boston: Pearson. Tulving, E. & Schacter, D. L. , 1990. Priming and Human Memory Systems. Science, Volume 247, pp. 301-306. 12

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