Cognition: Exploring the Science of the Mind Seventh Edition
I was a college sophomore when I took my first course in cognitive psychology. I was excited about the material then, and, many years later, the excitement hasn’t faded. Part of the reason lies in the fact that cognitive psychologists are pursuing fabulous questions, questions that have intrigued humanity for thousands of years: Why do we think the things we think? Why do we believe the things we believe? What is “knowledge,” and how secure (how complete, how accurate) is our knowledge of the world around us? Other questions asked by cognitive psychologists concern more immediate, personal, issues: How can I help myself to remember more of the material that I’m studying in my classes? Is there some better way to solve the problems I encounter? Why is it that my roommate can study with music on, but I can’t? And sometimes the questions have important consequences for our social or political institutions: If an eyewitness reports what he saw at a crime, should we trust him? If a newspaper raises questions about a candidate’s integrity, how will voters react?
Of course, we want more than interesting questions—we also want answers to these questions, and this is another reason I find cognitive psychology so exciting. In the last half-century or so, the field has made extraordinary progress on many fronts, providing us with a rich understanding of the nature of memory, the processes of thought, and the content of knowledge. There are many things still to be discovered—that’s part of the fun. Even so, we already have a lot to say about all of the questions just posed and many more as well. We can speak to the specific questions and to the general, to the theoretical issues and to the practical. Our research has uncovered principles usefulfor improving the process of education, and we have made discoveries of considerable importance for the criminal justice system. What I’ve learned as a cognitive psychologist has changed how I think about my own memory; it’s changed how I make decisions; it’s changed how I draw conclusions when I’m thinking about events in my life. On top of all this, I’m also excited about the connections that cognitive psychology makes possible. In the academic world, intellectual disciplines are often isolated from one another, sometimes working on closely related problems without even realizing it. In the last decades, though, cognitive psychology has forged rich connections with its neighboring disciplines, and in this book we’ll touch on topics in philosophy, neuroscience, law and criminal justice, economics, linguistics, politics, computer science, and medicine. These connections bring obvious benefits, since insights and information can be traded back and forth between the domains. But these connections also highlight the importance of the material we’ll be examining, since the connections make it clear that the issues before us are of interest to a wide range of scholars. This provides a strong signal that we’re working on questions of considerable power and scope.
I’ve tried in this text to convey all this excitement. I’ve done my best to describe the questions being asked within my field, the substantial answers we can provide for these questions, and, finally, some indications of how cognitive psychology is (and has to be) interwoven with other intellectual endeavors.
I’ve also had other goals in writing this text. In my own teaching, I try to maintain a balance among many different elements: the nuts and bolts of how our science proceeds, the data provided by the science, the practical implications of our research findings, and the theoretical framework that holds all of these pieces together. I’ve tried to find the same balance in this text. Perhaps most important, though, I try, both in my teaching and throughout this book, to “tell a good story,” one that conveys how the various pieces of our field fit together into a coherent package. Of course, I want the evidence for our claims to be in view, so that readers can see how our field tests its hypotheses and why our claims must be taken seriously. But I’ve also put a strong emphasis on the flow of ideas—how new theories lead to new experiments, and how those experiments can lead to new theory.
The notion of “telling a good story” also emerges in another way: I’ve always been impressed by the ways in which the different parts of cognitive psychology are interlocked. Our claims about attention, for example, have immediate implications for how we can theorize about memory; our theories of object recognition are linked to our proposals for how knowledge is stored in the mind. Linkages like these are intellectually satisfying, because they ensure that the pieces of the puzzle really do fit together. But, in addition, these linkages make the material within cognitive psychology easier to learn, and easier to remember. Indeed, if I were to emphasize one crucial fact about memory, it would be that memory is best when the memorizer perceives the organization and interconnections within the material being learned. (We’ll discuss this point further in Chapter 6.) With an eye on this point, I’ve therefore made sure to highlight the interconnections among various topics, so that readers can appreciate the beauty of our field and can also be helped in their learning by the orderly nature of our theorizing.
I’ve tried to help readers in other ways, too. First, I’ve tried throughout the book to make the prose approachable. I want my audience to gain a sophisticated understanding of the material in this text, but I don’t want readers to struggle with the ideas.
Second, I’ve taken various steps that I hope will foster an “alliance” with readers. My strategy here grows out of the fact that, like most teachers, I value the questions I receive from students and the discussions I have with them. In the classroom, this allows a two-way flow of information that unmistakably improves the educational process. Of course, a two-way flow isn’t possible in a textbook, but I’ve offered what I hope is a good approximation: Often, the questions I hear from students, and the discussions I have with them, focus on the relevance of the course material to students’ own lives, or relevance to the world outside of academics. I’ve tried to capture that dynamic, and to present my answers to these student questions, in the essay at the end of each chapter (I’ll say more about these essays in a moment). These essays appear under the banner Cognitive Psychology and Education, and—as the label suggests— the essays will help readers understand how the materials covered in that chapter matter for (and might change!) the readers’ own learning. In addition, I’ve written a separate series of essays (available online), titled Cognitive Psychology and the Law, to explore how each chapter’s materials matter in another arena—the enormously important domain of the justice system. I hope that both types of essays—Education and Law—help readers see that all of this material is indeed relevant to their lives, and perhaps as exciting for them as it is for me. Have I met all of these goals? You, the readers, will need to be the judges of this. I would love to hear from you about what I’ve done well in the book and what I could have done better; what I’ve covered (but should have omitted) and what I’ve left out. I’ll do my best to respond to every comment. You can reach me via email ([email protected]); I’ve been delighted to get comments from readers about previous editions, and I hope for more emails with this edition.
An Outline of the Seventh Edition
The book’s 14 chapters are designed to cover the major topics within cognitive psychology. The chapters in Part 1 lay the foundation. Chapter 1 provides the conceptual and historical background for the subsequent chapters. In addition, this chapter seeks to convey the extraordinary scope of the field and why, therefore, research on cognition is so important. The chapter also highlights the relationship between theory and evidence in cognitive psychology, and it discusses the logic on which this field is built. Chapter 2 then offers a brief introduction to the study of the brain. Most of cognitive psychology is concerned with the functions that our brains make possible, and not the brain itself. Nonetheless, our understanding of cognition has certainly been enhanced by the study of the brain, and throughout this book we’ll use biological evidence as one means of evaluating our theories. Chapter 2 is designed to make this evidence fully accessible to the reader—by providing a quick survey of the research tools used in studying the brain, an overview of the brain’s anatomy, and also an example of how we can use brain evidence as a source of insight into cognitive phenomena.
Part 2 of the book considers the broad issue of how we gain information from the world. Chapter 3 covers visual perception. At the outset, this chapter links to the previous (neuroscience) chapter with descriptions of the eyeball and the basic mechanisms of early visual processing. In this context, the chapter introduces the crucial concept of parallel processing and the prospect of mutual influence among separate neural mechanisms. From this base, the chapter builds toward a discussion of the perceiver’s activity in shaping and organizing the visual world, and explores this point by discussing the rich topics of perceptual constancy and perceptual illusions.
Chapter 4 discusses how we recognize the objects that surround us. This seems a straightforward matter—what could be easier than recognizing a telephone, or a coffee cup, or the letter Q? As we’ll see, however, recognition is surprisingly complex, and discussion of this complexity allows me to amplify key themes introduced in earlier chapters: how active people are in organizing and interpreting the information they receive from the world; the degree to which people supplement the information by relying on prior experience; and the ways in which this knowledge can be built into a network.
Chapter 5 then considers what it means to “pay attention.” The first half of the chapter is concerned largely with selective attention—cases in which you seek to focus on a target while ignoring distractors. The second half of the chapter is concerned with divided attention (“multi-tasking”)—that is, cases in which you seek to focus on more than one target, or more than one task, at the same time. Here, too, we’ll see that seemingly simple processes turn out to be more complicated than one might suppose. Part 3 turns to the broad topic of memory. Chapters 6, 7, and 8 start with a discussion of how information is “entered’’ into long-term storage, but then turn to the complex interdependence between how information is first learned and how that same information is subsequently retrieved. A recurrent theme in this section is that learning that’s effective for one sort of task, one sort of use, may be quite ineffective for other uses. This theme is examined in several contexts, and leads to a discussion of research on unconscious memories—so-called memory without awareness. These chapters also offer a broad assessment of human memory: How accurate are our memories? How complete? How long-lasting? These issues are pursued both with regard to theoretical treatments of memory and also with regard to the practical consequences of memory research, including the application of this research to the assessment, in the courtroom, of eyewitness testimony.
The book’s Part 4 is about knowledge. Earlier chapters show over and over that humans are, in many ways, guided in their thinking and experiences by what they already know—that is, the broad pattern of knowledge they bring to each new experience. This invites the questions posed by Chapters 9, 10, and 11: What is knowledge? How is it represented in the mind? Chapter 9 tackles the question of how “concepts,” the building blocks of our knowledge, are represented in the mind. Chapters 10 and 11 focus on two special types of knowledge. Chapter 10 examines our knowledge about language; Chapter 11 considers visual knowledge and examines what is known about mental imagery. The chapters in Part 5 are concerned with the topic of thinking. Chapter 12 examines how each of us draws conclusions from evidence—including cases in which we are trying to be careful and deliberate in our judgments, and also cases of informal judgments of the sort we often make in our everyday lives. The chapter then turns to the question of how we reason from our beliefs—how we check on whether our beliefs are correct, and how we draw conclusions, based on things we already believe. The chapter also considers the practical issue of how errors in thinking can be diminished through education. Chapter 13 is also about thinking, but with a different perspective: This chapter considers some of the ways people differ from one another in their ability to solve problems, in their creativity, and in their intelligence. The chapter also addresses the often heated, often misunderstood debate about how different groups—especially American Whites and African Americans—might (or might not) differ in their intellectual capacities.
The final chapter in the book does double service. First, it pulls together many of the strands of contemporary research relevant to the topic of consciousness—what consciousness is, and what consciousness is for. In addition, most readers will reach this chapter at the end of a full semester’s work, a point at which they are well served by a review of the topics already covered and ill served by the introduction of much new material. Therefore, this chapter draws many of its themes and evidence from previous chapters, and in that fashion it serves as a review of points that appear earlier in the book. Chapter 14 also highlights the fact that we’re using these materials to approach some of the greatest questions ever asked about the mind, and, in that way, this chapter should help to convey some of the power of the material we’ve been discussing throughout the book.
|Download Ebook||Read Now||File Type||Upload Date|
|July 31, 2021|
Do you like this book? Please share with your friends, let's read it !! :)How to Read and Open File Type for PC ?