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Cognition Essay

1990 words - 8 pages


What is cognition? It is the general term given for mental activities. In cognitive psychology, it is the study of higher mental processes; memory, attention, language, reasoning etc. in contrast to behaviourists; cognitive psychologists are more ready to posit mechanisms and processes that are not directly observable, such as memory stores and switches of attention.

Cognitive research includes several different facets of mental life, such as the use of imagery in representation, processes of decision making and problem solving and reasoning. A First Course in Psychology, Nicky Haynes, 3rd edition, Harrap Ltd, London, Page 202.

Cognition is all to do with the memory. The memory is the ability to access information in the mind relating to past experiences and events. The theories of the memory deals with the causes of forgetting; pure decay or interference from other material, and the possibility that there are two or more distinct stores from which the information is forgotten at different rates, short term and long term memory. They also analyse the distinction between episodic memory; the memory of specific events experienced by the individual, and semantic memory; knowledge and the way incoming information and previous knowledge interact in language comprehension and problem solving; the working memory.

There are three stages of memory;
„« Encoding:
This is the input stage, where newly perceived information is being learned or encoded. Perception is not just about receiving information with our senses but also about making sense of that information. When we see a picture of a simple shape; a square - all we are actually seeing is a pattern of light waves. But, our brain receives this information and organises it so that we are able to make sense of it and recognise the shape as a square. Our brain does not just use the messages sent via our eyes, but also uses our past experiences of similar shapes and our understanding of those shapes. This involves applying our knowledge of the world around us as well as other cognitive processes. Perception is a continuous cycle, in which what we expect to see affects what we look for and vice versa.
„« Storage:
Information received is simply held in preparation for some future occasion. As we are storing this information in our sub conscious, it is referred to as long term memory (LTM). The information is stored here ready to be recalled later. LTM holds a vast quantity of information and can be stored for long periods of time. The information kept in our LTM is diverse and wide ranging and it includes all of our personal memories, general knowledge and our beliefs of the world. It also holds our plans for the future and it is the depository for all our knowledge on skills and expertise.

Research suggests that we often use semantic categories to help us in our LTM and that visual imagery provides another method. Psychology at AS Level, Cardwell, Clarke & Meldrum,...

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