The revival of cognitive psychology

Lecture

Since the end of the 1950s, the interests of scientists have again focused on attention, memory, pattern recognition, images, semantic organization, language processes, thinking, and other "cognitive" topics once considered to be uninteresting for experimental psychology under the pressure of behaviorism. As psychologists turned more and more to cognitive psychology, new journals and scientific groups were organized, and cognitive psychology even more consolidated its position, it became clear that this branch of psychology was very different from the one that was in vogue in the 30s and 40s. Among the most important factors that caused this neocognitive revolution were:

"Failure" behaviorism. Behaviorism, which generally studied external reactions to stimuli, failed to explain the diversity of human behavior. It thus became apparent that internal mental processes indirectly related to direct stimuli affect behavior. Some believed that these internal processes could be defined and included in the general theory of cognitive psychology.

The emergence of communication theory. Communication theory has provoked experiments on signal detection, attention, cybernetics, and information theory — that is, in areas relevant to cognitive psychology.

Modern linguistics. New approaches to language and grammatical structures were included in the range of questions related to cognition.

The study of memory. Research on verbal learning and semantic organization created a solid foundation for theories of memory, which led to the development of models of memory systems and the emergence of verifiable models of other cognitive processes.

Computer science and other technological advances. Computer science and especially one of its sections - artificial intelligence (AI) - forced to revise the basic tenets concerning the processing and storage of information in memory, as well as learning the language. New devices for experiments greatly expanded the capabilities of researchers.

From early concepts of knowledge representation to the latest research, it was thought that knowledge was largely based on sensory inputs. This topic has come to us from the Greek philosophers and through the scientists of the Renaissance to the modern cognitive psychologists. But are the internal representations of the world identical with its physical properties? There is growing evidence that many of the internal representations of reality are not the same as external reality itself — that is, they are not isomorphic. Tolman's work with laboratory animals suggests that information received from the senses is stored in the form of abstract representations.

A slightly more analytical approach to the topic of cognitive maps and internal representations was chosen by Norman and Rumelhart (1975). In one of the experiments, they asked the residents of the dormitory at college to draw a plan of their housing from above. As expected, the students were able to identify the relief features of the architectural details - the layout of the rooms, basic amenities and facilities. But there were also omissions and simply mistakes. Many depicted a balcony flush with the outside of the building, although in fact it protruded from it. From the errors found in the scheme of the building, we can learn a lot about the internal representation of information from a person. Norman and Rumelhart came to this conclusion:

"The representation of information in memory is not an exact reproduction of real life; in fact, it is a combination of information, reasoning and reconstruction based on knowledge of buildings and the world in general. It is important to note that when students were shown an error, they were very surprised at what they themselves drew . "

With these examples, we became acquainted with the important principle of cognitive psychology. Most obviously, our perceptions of the world are not necessarily identical with its real essence. Of course, the representation of information is associated with the stimuli that our sensory apparatus receives, but it also undergoes significant changes. These changes, or modifications, are obviously related to our past experience, 3 which resulted in a rich and complex web of our knowledge. Thus, the incoming information is abstracted (and to some extent distorted) and then stored in the human memory system. Such a view does not deny that some sensory events are directly analogous to their internal representations, but suggests that sensory stimuli may undergo storage (and often it is so) abstraction and modification, which is a function of rich and complexly intertwined knowledge <previously structured. ..>.

The problem of how knowledge is represented in a person’s mind is one of the most important in cognitive psychology. In this section, we discuss some issues directly related to it. From the multitude of examples already given, and even more of them waiting for us to come, it clearly follows that our internal representation of reality has some similarity with external reality, but when we abstract and transform information, we do it in the light of our previous experience.

They are interconnected, but differ in the sense that “conceptual science” is a very general concept, whereas the term “cognitive model” refers to a separate class of conceptual science. When observing objects and events — both in the experiment, where they and others are controlled, and in natural conditions — scientists develop various concepts with the aim of:

  • organize observations;
  • give these observations meaning;
  • to link together the individual points arising from these observations;
  • develop hypotheses;
  • predict events that have not yet been observed; to keep in touch with other scientists.

Cognitive models are a special kind of scientific concept, and they have the same tasks. They are usually defined differently, but we define the cognitive model as a metaphor based on observations and conclusions made from these observations, and describing how. detected, stored and used information.

We cheny can pick up a convenient metaphor to perhaps more elegantly build their concepts. But another researcher can prove that this model is wrong and demand to revise it or refuse it altogether. Sometimes a model can be so useful as a working scheme that even if it is imperfect, it finds its support. For example, although in cognitive psychology the two above described types of memory are postulated - short-term and long-term - there are some evidences <...> that such a dichotomy incorrectly represents the real memory system. However, this metaphor is very useful in analyzing cognitive processes. When a model loses its relevance as an analytical or descriptive tool, it is simply abandoned.

The emergence of new concepts in the process of observing or conducting experiments is one of the indicators of the development of science. The scientist does not change nature - well, except in a limited sense - but observing nature changes the scientist's ideas about it. And our ideas about nature, in turn, direct our observations! Cognitive models, as well as other models of conceptual science, are the result of observations, but to a certain extent they are also the determining factor of observations. This question is related to the problem already mentioned: in what form the observer represents knowledge. As we have seen, there are many cases when the information in the internal representation does not correspond exactly to the external reality. Our internal representations of percepts may distort reality.

The “scientific method” and precise tools are one of the ways to subject external reality to more precise consideration. In fact, the attempts to present the observable in nature in the form of such cognitive constructions that are accurate representations of nature and at the same time compatible with common sense and understanding of the observer do not cease.

The logic of conceptual science can be illustrated by the example of the development of natural sciences. It is generally recognized that matter consists of elements that exist independently of their direct observation by man. However, the way these elements are classified has a huge impact on how scientists perceive the physical world. In one of the classifications, the "elements" of the world are divided into the categories "earth", "air", "fire" and "water". When this archaic alchemical taxonomy gave way to a more critical eye, such elements as oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, sodium, and gold were “discovered”, and then it became possible to study the properties of the elements when they were combined with each other. Hundreds of different laws were discovered regarding the properties of compounds from these elements.

Since the elements apparently joined the compounds in an orderly manner, the idea arose that the elements could be arranged according to a certain scheme, which would give meaning to the fragmented laws of atomic chemistry. Russian scientist Dmitri Mendeleev took a set of cards and wrote on them the names and atomic weights of all the then known elements - one for each. Having these cards this way and again and again, he finally got a meaningful scheme, known today as the periodic table of elements.

Nature - including the cognitive nature of man - objectively exists. Conceptual science is built by man and for man. The concepts and models built by scientists are the essence of metaphors, reflecting the "real" nature of the universe and being exclusively human creations. They are a product of thought that can reflect reality.

What he has done is a suitable example of how natural, natural information is structured by the thought of man, so that it simultaneously depicts nature and is understandable. It is important, however, to remember that the periodic arrangement of the elements had many interpretations. Interpretation of Mendeleev was not the only one possible; perhaps she was not even the best; it might not even have a natural arrangement of elements, but the variant proposed by Mendeleev helped to understand part of the physical world and was obviously compatible with "real" nature.

Conceptual cognitive psychology has much in common with the task that Mendeleev solved. The “raw” observation of how knowledge is acquired, stored and used is lacking a formal structure. Cognitive sciences, as well as natural ones, need schemes that would be intellectually compatible and scientifically reliable at the same time.
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Connection with other sciences and cultural phenomena

Terms: Connection with other sciences and cultural phenomena