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History of Cognition

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The cognitive perspective was formed in opposition to behaviourism, as it had supposedly reached a dead end, and it was too narrow minded and reductionist. The main assumption of behaviourism was hat only observational behaviour can be studied scientifically, and that humans are shaped by their environment. The cognitive perspective rejects these theories, and the main assumptions of the cognitive perspective are; * Internal mental processes can and should be studied scientifically * Cognitive processes actively process and manipulate the information we receive * Psychological processes like memory can be modelled and these models can be the base of experimentation * Animals can be studied to further understand the human behaviour The five main parts of the cognitive perspective are; * Perception * Attention * Language * Memory * Thinking Important parts of cognitive perspective; * Computer science and artificial intelligence * Linguistics * Studies on the development of knowledge Philosophical Roots of the cognitive perspective * For more than 2000 years people have wondered where our knowledge comes from, where it is stored, how we represent it in our minds. ...read more.


Gestalt psychology also formed as a partial reaction to structuralism, the gestalt theory has to do with perception. It states that our minds hold the innate ability to organise what we see, which allows us to deconstruct a whole image that we initially see, into carious components without having to actively organise it. The principle of gestalt psychology is that the larger picture is seen before its components. Gestalt psychology was formed around 1912 by Wertheimer, Kohler and several other psychologists. Even before the gestalt theory was developed, Ebbinghaus was experimenting on memory. He studied higher levels of cognitive processes that were rejected by Wundt. In 1879he conducted an experiment on himself. He used nonsense syllables to study the fundamentals of learning. In this experiment he memorised 13 nonsense syllables, and then measure how long it took him to forget them. (nonsense syllables are words that start with a consonant, then a vowel, and then end with a consonant, like cat, dog, pot, etc). From his results he concluded with the "forgetting curve". ...read more.


He put forward the idea that behaviour is more complex than just a reward and punishment system, and the behaviourism was too reductionist. He said that organisms had mental representations and expectations that determine their behaviour. He experimented on rats by putting them in a maze, and concluded that they had cognitive maps (memory paths). Cognitive maps are the mental processing methods we use to structure and store spatial knowledge, allowing us to visualise images to reduce cognitive load and enhance recall and learning information. In 1965, George Miller put forward his theory on the magic number 7, plus or minus 2. He claimed that our short term memory can hold around 7 pieces of information, his "chunking" theory. The final major experiment/theory in the cognitive perspective came in 1965 by Noam Chompsky. He concentrated on the area of language and disagreed with Skinner's idea about language. Chompsky believed that language and how we acquire it could not be explained by behaviourism. He claimed that when children reached the age of 3, they could understand syntax through a genetic predisposition, called Language Acquisition Device (LAD). He believed that everyone is born with one which is why llittle kids can understand syntax, and don't have much trouble learning it generally. ...read more.

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