08 Cognitive Psychology: Module 16




Scarince, Collin

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Module 16: Theories of Categories and Concepts The study group decided to mix things up, and Mary hosted a study session with snacks at her apartment. She boiled a kettle for tea, and Perry went over to the kitchen to pour himself a cup. Thinking about how his kitchen is organized, he opened the cabinet above the stove—a close, convenient location. No mugs—instead Perry found spices and other cooking ingredients. “Where are your mugs?” Perry asked. “Over in the corner by the glasses,” Marry replied. Perry opened the cabinet and found a shelf of glasses, a shelf of cups and travel mugs, and a shelf of coffee mugs. Makes sense, Perry thought. Perry then overheard the study group discussing which topics to cover. “Let’s review memory processes, then short-term memory, then working memory, since that’s the chapter order,” Garry suggested. “How about doing the sections on sensory memory, then attention, then short-term memory, then long-term memory, since that’s kind of similar to information processing approaches?” Kerry countered. This conversation got Perry thinking about knowledge. They had learned a lot over the course of the semester, and all that knowledge had to be somewhere. Is knowledge organized like Mary’s kitchen with information filed into organized spaces? Or, is it more like Perry’s preference of having the most used items readily available? Most human cognitive abilities rely on or interact with what we call knowledge. How do people navigate through the world? How do they solve problems, how do they comprehend their surroundings and on which basis do people make decisions and draw inferences? For all these questions, knowledge, the mental representation of the world is part of the answer. What is knowledge? Knowledge is a structured collection of information, that can be acquired through learning, perception, or reasoning. This chapter deals with the structures both in human brains and in computational models that represent knowledge about the world. First, the idea of concepts and categories as a model for storing and sorting information is introduced. Then the concept of semantic networks and how such models can be used to explain the way humans store and handle information. Apart from the biological aspect, we are also going to talk about knowledge representation in artificial systems which can be helpful tools to store and access knowledge and to draw quick inferences. This chapter will also examine the human brain with regard to hemispheric specialization. This topic is not only connected to knowledge representation, since the two hemispheres differ in which type of knowledge is stored in each of them, but also to many other topics in this course. Where, for example, is memory located, and which parts of the brain are relevant for emotions and motivation? In this chapter we focus on the general differences between the right and the left hemisphere. We consider the question whether they differ in what and how they process information and give an overview about experiments that contributed to the scientific progress in this field.



open educational resources, cognitive psychology, knowledge



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