Ch 6: Cognition

About This Chapter

Learn how to improve your memory and why you speak foreign languages with an accent. Cognitive psychology is a broad field that explores how we think and remember.

About This Chapter

Cognition is one of the most difficult psychological topics to study directly. Psychologists can't see into our minds to discover how our thoughts are processed; instead, they develop experiments to reveal the kinds of fine-grained differences in behavior that can be linked to patterns of thought. In this topic, we'll take a look at some of the key areas of research within cognition in order to understand the techniques used and the concepts developed to investigate how we think.

Our first five lessons address questions of intelligence and creativity. We'll lay out some of the key terms in our introduction, then jump into the problematic history of intelligence testing to go over the problems psychologists have run into when trying to assess and measure intelligence. Our lessons on the biological bases of intelligence and multiple intelligences outline some main approaches taken to defining and understanding intelligence. A lesson on creativity and divergent thinking rounds out our intelligence module by introducing some of the theories on how creativity is fostered.

Next we'll devote two lessons to the thorny subjects of language and its acquisition. Language and thought are closely tied, so separating and attempting to define language on its own is a difficult problem pursued intently by many psychologists. Language acquisition in infants can help answer some of the most important questions about language, particularly whether we're biologically primed to learn it.

The last seven lessons address issues of information organization and memory. We'll cover information processing, attention and heuristics to get a sense of how the brain organizes the information it receives. Then we'll look at categorizing memory, improving short- and long-term memory and the problem of memory distortion. These lessons address the unreliable and limited nature of memory, and how we can use these observations to understand memory's processes.

Cognition is a diverse subfield of psychology, dealing with issues of intelligence, language and memory, among others. After viewing these lessons, we hope you'll come away with an understanding of the field's breadth as well as its unique problems and considerations.

14 Lessons in Chapter 6: Cognition
Intro to Intelligence

1. Intro to Intelligence

We all want to be smart in one way or another, but what exactly is general intelligence? This lesson takes a look at the possible factors behind intellectual development and how this controversial topic has been examined by psychologists.

History of Intelligence Testing

2. History of Intelligence Testing

Throughout the years, there have been many methods used that attempted to accurately quantify and measure human intelligence. You've probably heard of or taken an IQ test, but what does an IQ test actually measure? Find out in this lesson.

Biological Bases of Intelligence

3. Biological Bases of Intelligence

Have you ever wondered if your intelligence is entirely due to genetics or if it's shaped by the environment surrounding you? In this lesson, you'll learn about the factors that affect and influence a person's intelligence.

Multiple Intelligences

4. Multiple Intelligences

Which types of intelligence do you identify with? As you watch this video on Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences, you'll learn that intelligence can be a diverse concept not limited to one area.

Creativity and Divergent Thinking

5. Creativity and Divergent Thinking

Some people tend to think more analytically, while some are creative thinkers by nature. Is creativity an important skill for solving problems? In this lesson, we'll learn the differences between creative and analytical thinking and discover ways to nurture creative thinking.

What Is Language?

6. What Is Language?

Have you ever wondered how human language is constructed to form meaning? Why is language more complex than animal calls? In this lesson, we'll take a look at the basic units language and learn how meaning is formed.

Language Acquisition

7. Language Acquisition

Have you ever wondered how humans are able to learn, process, comprehend and speak a language? In this lesson on language acquisition, we'll take a look at some distinctions between languages and learn how babies come to understand and speak a language.

Information Processing

8. Information Processing

How does your brain remember information and recall it later? In this lesson, you'll look at the steps your brain takes as it processes data from short-term memory and stores it as long-term memory.

Categorizing Memory

9. Categorizing Memory

Did you know that there are several types of memories? How does your brain keep track of them all? In this lesson, as you observe your surroundings at an art museum, you'll come to understand how your brain categorizes memory so you can remember your experiences.

Attention and Top-Down vs. Bottom-Up Processing

10. Attention and Top-Down vs. Bottom-Up Processing

Are you a big-picture person or do you get caught up in the details? Explore two ways that you can use your cognitive resources to focus your attention. This lesson provides both the details and the big picture for top-down and bottom-up processing.

Improving Short Term Memory

11. Improving Short Term Memory

Wouldn't it be nice to improve your short-term memory? According to one psychological study, there are, in fact, ways you can organize sets of new information to make them easier to remember. Based on the study, this lesson examines a method that can increase your short-term memory.

Improving Long Term Memory

12. Improving Long Term Memory

What are some tips for improving your memory? This memorable lesson on memory covers self-referencing, mnemonic devices, spaced repetition and rehearsal. You won't want to cram for exams once you learn these better ways to improve your long-term memory!

Memory Distortion

13. Memory Distortion

With all the information we learn and process every day, it can be difficult to remember things accurately. Because of this, our memory can become distorted. In this lesson, we'll learn how our brain can trick us into falsely remembering details of our past experiences.

Types of Heuristics: Availability, Representativeness & Base-Rate

14. Types of Heuristics: Availability, Representativeness & Base-Rate

Did you know that our brain uses strategies to process information and draw conclusions? Although we're able to reach conclusions through these mental strategies, sometimes, our reasoning can be off. Read on to discover how our brain draws these conclusions and why they can be wrong.

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