Introduction Cognitive Psychology/PSY360
Cognitive Psychology Definition Paper
Cognitive psychology is the study of mental processes surrounding learning, memory, perception, and thought. Though it is still a relatively new formal branch of psychology, its roots extend back to Descartes who sought a way to explain how the mind worked, proposing the analogy of a “hydraulic system of nerve function” (Willingham, 2007, p. 26) after he observed animated statues in Saint-Germain-en-Laye. It has been the restless pursuit of not only the idea of how the mind works but also what exactly constituted the mind that eventually led to the foundations of cognitive theory. As psychologists examined how mental processes produced behavior, it was evident a different approach would be needed.
Cognitive psychology developed primarily from the inability of the behaviorist approach to fully explain every form of behavior. While there were many things that drove its development, there were four main milestones in the development of cognitive psychology: the inadequacies of behaviorism, the information processing model and computer metaphor, artificial intelligence, and neuroscience. Each of these four milestones contributed significantly to the search for a better model and the development of the cognitive approach, which we have today.
Behaviorism had many shortfalls with its primary one being that it excluded the effect of genetics entirely. It only accounted for what had been learned through reward and punishment only. Questions were raised and answers were missing when examining the question through the lens of behaviorism only. One area where ethologists observed discrepancies were in fixed-action patterns and critical periods in animals. Fixed-action patterns were behaviors that received little to no reward or punishment in which the animals engaged in and critical period referred to a specific period of time in which if a