Cognitive Psychology And Mental Processes – Final Essay

Cognitive Psychology And Mental Processes – Final Essay
Cognitive psychology deals with the mental processes like memory and problem solving. It is also concerned with internal processes such as attention, perception,

thinking, reasoning and language. However in the past these processes were studied by means of laboratory tasks, however it has become clear that the cognitive approach is very useful when understanding developmental issues, social functioning and treatment of many mental disorders.

Biological psychology however brings together biology and psychology to understand behaviour and thought it also looks at the link between biology and psychological events such as how information travels throughout our bodies.

The roots of cognitive psychology has existed for the last 2,000 years Neisser (1967) (cognitive psychologist) published the ‘cognitive psychology’ as Neisser states cognition begins with sensory input, he says that our cognitive processes are most useful in responding to information that is present in the world and that is capable in being picked up by our sensory apparatus.

However more recent studies show that Cognitive psychologists have made many contributions in order to help us understand the processes and structures involved in perception, attention and performance. All these contributions have taken various forms leading Eysenck and keane to identify three main strands in the cognitive psychology field.

(1) Experimental cognitive psychology: this approach mainly relies on lab based studies of cognition in normal individuals
(2) Cognition science: this approach involves producing computer programs to mimic the processes and outputs of the human brain.
(3) Cognitive neuropsychological: this approach involves studying cognitive process in brain-damaged patients to understand the workings of the cognitive system. (E.g. some brain damaged patients can understand language but cannot speak or write it properly. Some cognitive psychologist suggests that this may be because different language functions are based in different parts of the brain.

The main method used in cognitive psychology to help us understand the working of the human mind are lab experiments these attempt to help determine the relationship between the dependent and independent variables. The main aim is to isolate a particular component of the cognitive process for the study. Such experiments can take on may forms such as control of groups, for the experiment to be successful it has to be proven against the hypotheses. Lab experiments however usually lack ecological validity this means the tasks being studied fails to include the influences of the natural environment.

To try and understand humans cognitive psychologist use different kinds of strategies.
(1) they identify the problem and form a hypothetical relation among the variables.
(2) design and execute the experiment
(3) examine the data from the experiment
(4) communicate the results.

so in a case of ‘users of a word processor learn faster when they are given feedback’

they then put these into context in realation to humans, so they break the hypotheseis into two variables, like i mentioned before the independent and dependent variable and the experimental hypothesies predicts that the word processor affects the feedback, at the same time as meeting the hypthosies the null hypthosies is formulated that predicts that the feedback will not be affected by the word processor.
this leaves the experiment open and can be seen from two different angles.

many cognitive psychologits also use self report,case studies and obersavation techniques, these techingues are used to support the findings from lab experiments cognitive psychologhits use these techniques beacuse it gives them a good idea of the interaction between humans and the enviroment, however the results vary depending on the enviroment.
observation in psychological terms requires collecting alot of data in a systematic and recordable manner. the psychologits may observe by taking part and participating with the subjects this helps them obtain a deeper understanding,however the downside to this approach is that psychologits may become too involved and may be unable to make relevant recordings.
however case studies focus on single case , they allow psychologits to investiagte something in more detail then if they were dealing with more subjects.

biopsychology however is linked to understanding human behaviour from the biological perspective. this approach involes studying processes within our bodies. it looks at the detailed function of our brain.
biological psychology is relevant to psycholoy in three ways:
(1) comparative method: this is when different studies of animals and speices are compared, this can also help understand human behaviour.
(2) physiology : this shows how the nervous system and how the hormones work, how the brain functions and how changes in structre and how afficient the fuction of behaviour is.
(3)investigation of inheritance: mechinisisms of inheritance (what an animale inherits from its parents).

biological psychologits use many methods to carry out experiments they use contrast X-ray,standard x-ray,to take an X-ray photograph of an object, a beam of X-rays is passed through it onto a photographic plate any part of the object that absorbs X-rays differently will be distinguishable
researchers also use other equpiment to monitor brain activity during certain mental tasks. these methods are taken from neuroscience and can be put into experiments. firstly there are two nureoscience techniques, the electroencephalogram (EEG) this measures the change in voltage generated by large numbers of neurons under an electrode placed on a scalp.secondaly there is positron emission topography (PET) this scans radio active isotopes, which is introduced to the subject as a small dose of water in the blood this then flows around the brain, this sort of scans usually show brain activity in the anterior cingulate.
biological psychologits also use cat scans CAT SCANS during this process the individual lies on a table with their head in the middle of a doughnut shaped ring. an X-ray beam then goes through the individuals head from front to back.CAT SCANS are very useful for detecting tumors,blood clots and other brain abnormalities however at the same time they also have their limitations as they do not show the precise location of the brain damage.
MIR SCANS however are similar to CAT scans in many ways but they produce cleaerer and more detailed pictures. in the MIR SCAN procudure radio waves are used to excite atoms in the brain, compared to CAT SCANS MIR scsns can be obtained in a horizontal plane. the limitations however are similar to those of the CAT SCANS as MIR scans tell us about the structure of the brain rather then the function.PET SCANS is one the biological approach that has attracted the media the most, the technique is based on poitrons which are the atomic particales emitted by radioactive substances.PET SCANS show the brain in action so therefore they are more advanced then CAT and MIR scans but the downfall of PER SCANS is that they tell us which area of the brain in active but fail to identify the areas of precision.what PET SCANS do do is that they indicate the activity levels in different areas of the brain over a period of 60 seconds
electric stimulation of the brain simply involves applying a week electric current to the brain through very small electrodes. if it is done very carfully then the brain appears to respond to the current as if it were an actual nerve impulse.

language and speech are a very key factor when looking at biological psychology, psychologitst say that for right handed people language is based mainly in the left-hemisphere and for left-handed people language is based in the left-hemisphere.

Overall both biological and cognitive psychology have very different approches and look at different aspects of the human brain and body. the biological aspect of psychology looks at the brain,nervous system and techniques such as. split brain studies,invasive techniques, and X-rays. cognitive psychology however looks at the mind and how we as indivuals behaive


Michael W.Eysenck

Neil R. Carlson
physiological psychology (fourth edition)