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By: Anju Gautam
The term cognition (Latin: cognoscere, "to know") is used in several loosely-related ways to refer
to a facility for the human like processing of information, applying knowledge and changing
preferences ( see, for ex. IPK cognitive architecture). Cognition/(cognitive processes) can be
natural and artificial, conscious and not conscious, therefore they are analyzed from different
perspectives and in different contexts, in neurology, psychology, philosophy, systemics and
computer science. The concept cognition is closely related to such abstract concepts as, mind,
reasoning, perception, intelligence, learning, and many others which describe numerous
capabilities of human mind and expected properties of artificial or synthetic intelligence.
Cognition is an abstract property of advanced living organisms, therefore it is studied as a direct
property of a brain or of an abstract mind on subsymbolic and symbolic levels.
In psychology and in artificial intelligence it is used to refer to the mental functions, mental
processes and states of intelligent entities (humans, human organizations, highly autonomous
robots), with a particular focus toward the study of such mental processes as, comprehension,
inferencing, decision-making, planning and learning (see also cognitive science and
cognitivism). Recently, advanced cognitive researchers are especially focused on the capacities
of abstraction, generalization, concretization/specialization and meta-reasoning which
descriptions involve such concepts as, beliefs, knowledge, desires, preferences and intentions of
The term "cognition" is also used in a wider sense to mean the act of knowing or knowledge, and
may be interpreted in a social or cultural sense to describe the emergent development of
knowledge and concepts within a group that culminate in both thought and action.
Cognitive Psychology: The scientific study of
Using controlled research methods to investigate
questions of mind.
We’ll discuss research methods in Chapter 2.
“The science of how the mind is organized to produce
intelligent thought and how it is realized in the brain” –
Cognitive Science: Study of the relationships among and
integration of cognitive psychology, biology,
anthropology, computer science, linguistics, and
Cognition: Mental activity associated with thinking,
knowing, and remembering.
Cognitive Psychology: The study of these mental
An interdisciplinary approach
▪ (Cognitive) Psychology
▪ Artificial intelligence
▪ How do we take in and organize information?
Attention and Working Memory
▪ How do we focus on and manipulate
Recognizing and Identifying
▪ How do we realize what something is?
▪ How do store and retrieve information?
▪ How does memory go awry?
▪ What processes influence personal recollection?
▪ How we represent and retrieve knowledge?
▪ How we use words to communicate?
▪ How do we overcome obstacles to arrive at
▪ How we arrive at conclusions and make
Psychophysics: Relates physical aspects of experience to
Weber, Fechner, etc.
How does the mind interpret information and perceive the world
Not a 1-1 transition, but definitely mathematical and predictable.
▪ Developed the notion of unconscious inference
▪ Three important insights about perception
▪Influenced by previous experience
▪Occurs outside of awareness
What is the structure of conscious experience?
▪ Wundt, Titchener, introspection
What are the functions of consciousness?
William James emphasized the continuous
nature of consciousness
Structuralism and Functionalism
“mind” and “consciousness” are unobservable, hence
Only behavior should be the subject of study
▪ Behavior can be characterized completely by stimuli and
▪ “Mind” is an impenetrable “black box”
First experimental investigation
Use of nonsense syllables
Laying the Foundation for Cognitive Psychology
Investigated memory for stories (concern for ecological validity)
Recall guided by “schemata”
We’ll return to this in Memory and the Law material
Investigated mind’s innate
“whole is different than
the sum of its parts”
Laying the Foundation for Cognitive Psychology
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S-R view of learning
Learning as an S-R “chain”
▪ Tolman’s expectancies, beliefs,
hypotheses, and cognitive
Learning without responding
Response is part of what is learned
▪ Learning cannot occur in the absence of a
McNamara, Long,Wike (1956) found rats
prevented from running a maze still learned
▪ A “mental map” of the maze?
Learning without reinforcement
Reinforcement necessary for solidifying S-R
Tolman and Honzik found learning in the absence
Tolman proposed “cognitive maps” to account for
learning in the absence of response or
cognitive maps = mental representation
Necessity of investigating “mind”
Other criticisms of behaviorism
▪ Skilled behavior is too complex for an S-R
▪ Linguistic expression is too creative and
productive for an S-R account
Technological influences on the development of
These sequential, information-processing systems
provided a possible metaphor for mind
Behaviorism had considerable influence
Rigor of research
Observations of behavior still central
▪ Cannot measure a cognitive process, can only
infer it from behavior (and language is a
behavior when studying human cognition).
Information processing approach
Models thinking on the computer
▪ Humans as symbol manipulators
▪ Human thought as active, interpretive
▪ Processing is step-by-step; stages can be
Models thinking on neural networks
▪ Cognitive processes occur in parallel
▪ Networks of neurons distributed throughout
▪ “parallel distributed processing”
Criticisms of current conceptions of mind:
Materialist critique: Is “mind” separable from
“Disembodied” approach to the study of mind
▪ Importance of studying cognition and action
▪ Importance of studying cognition in meaningful
▪ “ecological validity”
Mental Representation: An unobservable internal
code for information.
Similar to prototypes
Some perfect version of an object
▪ Plato’s version of the heavenly or pure form.
Mental representations form the basis of ALL
Stages of Processing: The steps required to form,
use, and modify mental representations in a
Perhaps perceiving, encoding, remembering and
Serial Processing: Cognitive operations occur one
at a time in a series.
The way computers run
Parallel Processing: Cognitive operations occur
simultaneously in parallel.
The way people run
Hierarchical Systems: A system composed of component
Nervous system composed of peripheral and central,
each of which has its own components.
The mind can be divided into component functions
▪ Long term
▪ Short Term
▪ Motor output
Cognitive Architecture: The design or organization
of the mind’s information processing components
Understanding (human) cognitive processing means
being able to implement them on a computational level.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) simulations are generally
designed to be similar to human cognition.
Believe that the mind is built from independent
processing modules, each module specialized for an
Artificial intelligence (AI): A branch of computer
science that investigates the extent to which
machines can simulate or duplicate the intelligent
behavior of living organisms.
Founded by Turing in an article titled
“Computing Machinery and Intelligence”
▪ Can machines think? Depends on how you
define it I guess!
Turing Test: A test devised by Turing (1950) to determine
whether a machine can think. Questions are submitted to
both a human and a machine. If the machine's answers are
indistinguishable from those of the human, it is concluded
that the machine can think.
Weak Artificial Intelligence: The contention that
machines (such as computers) can simulate human
cognitive processes but not duplicate them.
Even if the computer passes the Turing test, it is simply
imitating humans, not being human.
Strong Artificial Intelligence: The contention that
machines (such as computers) can duplicate
human cognitive processes.
An appropriately programmed computer is a mind and a
human mind is simply a program.
Symbolic Models: Assume that the mind is built
like a digital computer (serial processing).
Mental representations are symbols which are
serially processed using a set of rules.
Connectionist Models: Use the structure of the
brain itself as a model of the mind’s structure
A set of simple neurons, interconnected, allows
for complex thinking.
Memory is divided into many distinctions
Short term vs. Long Term
Audio vs. Visual
Consciousness: Our awareness of ourselves
and our environments.
Awareness of external events and internal
sensations, including awareness of the self and
thoughts about one’s experiences.
Allows us to focus our attention.
Difficult (impossible?) to define
Self-knowledge: Knowledge about the self.
Informational Access: The capacity to become aware of
and able to report on mental representations and the
processes that operate on them.
Ability to take advantage of mental representations to
allow us to function in the world.
Includes awareness of emotions and self-concepts
Sentience: The basic capacity for raw sensations, feelings,
or subjective experience of any kind.
Relationship between sentience and brain creates mind-