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Univeristy of Alberta Cognitive Science Dictionary (Entries Page)

The University of Alberta's


Cognitive Science Dictionary
Dictionary Entries As Of February 24, 1997

|A|B|C|D|E|F|G|H|I|J|K|L|M|N|O|P|Q|R|S|T|U|V|W|X|Y|Z|

1. Adaptation
2. Alzheimer's Disease
3. Analogy
4. Apparent Motion
5. Articulatory Loop
6. Artificial Intelligence
7. Associative Memory
8. Attention
9. Attention Getting
10. Attention Holding
11. Attention Releasing

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12. Behavioural Indeterminacy


13. Biological Naturalism
14. Bottom-Up Processing
15. Broca's Area

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Univeristy of Alberta Cognitive Science Dictionary (Entries Page)

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16. Cascade Processing


17. Central Executive
18. Cognitive Development
19. Cognitive Mapping
20. Cognitive Penetrability
21. Cognitive Psychology
22. Cognitive Science
23. Connectionism
24. Consciousness
25. Content Addressable Memory
26. Crystallized Intelligence
27. Cued Recall

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28. Deductive Inference


29. Dementia
30. Discrete Processing
31. The Disjunction Problem

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32. Elaborative Rehearsal


33. Enactment

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Univeristy of Alberta Cognitive Science Dictionary (Entries Page)

34. Encoding
35. Encoding Specificity
36. Equilibration
37. Error Analysis
38. Extension

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39. Fluid Intelligence


40. The Formality Condition
41. Free Recall
42. Functional Analysis
43. Functional Architecture

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44. Generalization
45. Graceful Degradation

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46. Hebbian Learning Rule


47. Humor

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Univeristy of Alberta Cognitive Science Dictionary (Entries Page)

48. Imagery Debate


49. Incidental Learning
50. Induction Learning
51. Inductive Inference
52. Intension
53. Intention
54. Intentional Stance
55. Intermediate State Evidence
56. Intrusion Errors

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Univeristy of Alberta Cognitive Science Dictionary (Entries Page)

57. Learning Rule


58. Levels of Processing
59. Linguistic Determination
60. Long Term Potentiation

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61. Machine Learning


62. Maintenance Rehearsal
63. Mandelbrot Set
64. Memory Span
65. Metaphor
66. Misrepresentation
67. Modularity

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68. Neurocognition
69. Neuron
70. Neuroscience

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71. Occam's Razor

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Univeristy of Alberta Cognitive Science Dictionary (Entries Page)

72. Paradigm
73. Parallel Distributed Processing Models
74. Parallel Search
75. Perseveration Errors
76. Philosophy of Mind
77. Piaget's Stage Theory of Development
78. Primacy Effect
79. Priming
80. Primitive
81. Production
82. Production System
83. Proposition
84. Protocol Analysis

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85. Recency Effect


86. Recognition Recall
87. Recursive Decomposition
88. Relative Complexity Evidence
89. Retrieval
90. Ryle's Regress

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Univeristy of Alberta Cognitive Science Dictionary (Entries Page)

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91. Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis


92. Schemas
93. Semantics
94. Serial Position Curve
95. Serial Search
96. Short Term Memory
97. Spontaneous Generalization
98. Strong Equivalence
99. Sustained Attention
100. Symbolic Architecture

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101. Top-Down Processing


102. Turing Equivalence
103. Turing Test

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Univeristy of Alberta Cognitive Science Dictionary (Entries Page)

104. Veridicality
105. Visuospatial Perception
106. Visuospatial Sketchpad

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107. WAIS
108. Weak Equivalence
109. Wernicke's Area
110. Working Memory

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Univeristy of Alberta Cognitive Science Dictionary (Entries Page)

111. Z Lens

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Dictionary Home Page | Maintained by M.R.W. Dawson

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Adaptation)

Adaptation

In Piaget's Theory of Development, there are two cognitive processes that are crucial for progressing
from stage to stage: assimilation, accommodation. These two concepts are described below.

Assimilation

This refers to the way in which a child transforms new information so that it makes sense within their
existing knowledge base. That is, a child tries to understand new knowledge in terms of their existing
knowledge. For example, a baby who is given a new knowledge may grasp or suck on that object in the
same way that he or she grasped or sucked other objects.

Accomodation

This happens when a child changes his or her cognitive structure in an attempt to understand new
information. For example, the child learns to grasp a new object in a different way, or learns that the new
object should not be sucked. In that way, the child has adapted his or her way of thinking to a new
experience.

Taken together, assimilation and accomodation make up adaptation, which refers to the child's ability to
adapt to his or her environment.

References:

1. Siegler, R. (1991). Children's thinking. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.


2. Vasta, R., Haith, M. M., & Miller, S. A. (1995). Child psychology: The modern science. New
York, NY: Wiley.

See Also:
Equilibration | Piaget's Stage Theory of Development

Contributed by J. Sandwell

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Adaptation)

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Alzheimer's Disease)

Alzheimer's Disease

Alzheimer's Disease (AD), a term coined by Alois Alzheimer in 1907, is a relentlessly progressive
disease characterized by cognitive decline, behavioural disturbances, and changes in personality. Current
estimates of prevalence of AD in Canada suggest that 5.1% of all Canadians 65 and over meet the criteria
for the clinical diagnosis of AD, which translates into approximately 161,000 cases. AD prevalence is
slightly higher in women than in men. It may be that this difference is due to the longer life expectancy
of women although other factors have not been ruled out. The prevalence of dementia is strongly
associated with age, affecting 1% of the Canadian population aged 65 to 74, 6.9% of individuals 75-84
and 26% of individuals 85 years and older (Canadian Study of Health and Aging, 1994).

The diagnostic criteria for dementia of the Alzheimer's Type (DAT) are as follows:

● (A) The development of multiple cognitive deficits manifested by both:


1. Memory impairment (impaired ability to learn new information or to recall previously
learned information)
2. One or more of the following cognitive disturbances:
■ aphasia (language disturbance)

■ apraxia (impaired ability to carry out motor activities despite intact motor function)

■ agnosia (failure to recognize or identify objects despite intact sensory function)

■ disturbances in executive functioning (i.e., planning, organizing, sequencing,

abstracting)
● (B) The cognitive deficits in Criteria A1 and A2 each cause significant impairment in social and
occupational functioning and represent a significant decline from a previous level of functioning.
● (C) The course is characterized by gradual onset and continuing cognitive decline
● (D) The cognitive deficits in Criteria A1 and A2 are not due to any of the following:
1. other central nervous system conditions that cause progressive deficits in memory and
cognition (e.g., cerebrovascular disease, Parkinson's Disease, Huntington's Disease,
subdural hematoma, normal pressure hydrocephalus, brain tumor).
2. systemic conditions that are known to cause a dementia (e.g., hypothyroidism, vitamin B12
or folic acid deficiency, hypercalcemia, neurosyphilis, HIV infection)
3. substance-induced conditions
● (E) The deficits do not occur exclusively during the course of a delirium
● (F) The disturbance is not better accounted for by another Axis 1 disorder (e.g., Major Depressive
Disorder, Schizophrenia)

The diagnosis of AD is based on exclusionary criteria (i.e., the absence of an identifiable cause) with
diagnosis confirmed at autopsy. Treatment strategies to date have been largely ineffective, with
experimental treatments mainly directed toward overcoming the cholinergic deficit.

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Alzheimer's Disease)

References:

1. American Psychiatric Association (1994). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders
(4th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.
2. Canadian study of health and aging: Study methods and prevalence of dementia. (1994).
Canadian Medical Association Journal, 150(6).
3. Whitehouse, P.J. (1993) Dementia. Philadelphia: F.A. Davis.

See Also:
Dementia

Contributed by Bonnie M. French

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Analogy)

Analogy

In cognitive psychology, analogy is considered an important method of problem solving. The problem solver attempts to use
his or her knolwedge of one problem to solve another problem about which she or he has very little or no information.
Barsalou (1992) provides the following example of problem solving by analogy:

"...someone who has worked at the complex for a while could simply explain to you
that the layout is analogous to a starfish. On hearing this analogy you might
transfer knowledge about starfish to the office complex. Thus the knowledge that a
starfish has a circular body, with five legs extending from it radially and
symetrically would lead to the belief that the office complex contains a center
circular body, with five tapered buildings extending from it in a radially symmetric
pattern." (p.110)

Obviously people do not use all of their knowledge about one problem to solve another problem. In the context of his starfish
example Barsalou points out that we would not begin to think that the office complex is alive, or that it lives underwater.

One problem facing cogntive psychologists is to determine how people decide upon the extent to which an analogy applies.
Determining how this may be done is more difficult than it may seem. Consider that, given enough time people can find
analogies between any two phenomena. We might want to say that, like the starfish, the office complex is alive--its heating
ducts are like blood vessels, its doors are like mouths eating the people who enter the office complex every day. As a
cognitive process analogy seems limitless. In a science that strives for regularity and lawfulness the limitlessness of
analogical thinking poses a serious problem.

References:

1. Barsalou, L. (1992). Cognitive psychology: An overview for cognitive psychologists. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum
Associates.

Contributed by Jeff Stepnisky

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Apparent Motion)

Apparent Motion

This is a perceptual phenomenon that occurs when we perceive motion in two or more static images that
are presented in succession with appropriate spatial and temporal displacements. The ability to perceive
this phenomenon is mediated by the visuospatial pathway of the visual association regions of the brain.

We see examples of this phenomenon almost everyday when we view television or movies.

This is an example of a cognitively impenetrable perception. That is, even though we know that the
images are not moving, we still perceive motion.

References:

1. Marr, D. (1982). Vision. Freeman: San Francisco, pp.159-182.


2. Zeki, S. (1992). The visual image in mind & brain. Scientific American, 241(3), 150-162.

See Also:
Cognitive Penetrability | Visuospatial Perception

Contributed by M. Kincade

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Articulatory Loop)

Articulatory Loop

The articulatory loop (AL) is one of two passive slave systems within Baddeley's (1986) tripartite model
of working memory. The AL, responsible for storing speech based information, is comprised of two
components. The first component is a phonological memory store which can hold traces of acoustic or
speech based material. Material in this short term store lasts about two seconds unless it is maintained
through the use of the second subcomponent, articulatory subvocal rehearsal. Prevention of articulatory
rehearsal results in very rapid forgetting. Try this experiment with a friend. Present your friend with three
consonants (e.g., C-X-Q) and ask them to recall the consonants after a 10 second delay. During the 10
second interval, prevent your friend from rehearsing the consonants by having them count 'backwards by
threes' starting at 100. You will find that your friend's recall is significantly impaired! See Murdoch
(1961) and Baddeley (1986) for a complete review.

References:

1. Baddeley, A. (1986). Working memory. Oxford: Clarendon Press.


2. Murdock, B.B. Jr. (1961). The retention of individual items. Journal of Experimental Psychology,
62, 618-625.

See Also:
Working Memory | Visuospatial Sketchpad | Central Executive

Contributed by Bonnie M. French

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Artificial Intelligence)

Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence is concerned with the attempt to develop complex computer programs that will be capable
of performing difficult cognitive tasks. Some of those who work in artificial intelligence are relatively
unconcerned as to whether the programs they devise mimic human cognitive functioning, while others have the
explicit goal of simulating human cognition on the computer.

The artificial intelligence approach has been applied to several different areas within cognitive psychology,
including perception, memory, imagery, thinking, and problem solving.

There are a number of advantages of the artificial intelligence approach to cognition. Computer programming
requires that every process be specified in detail, unlike cognitive psychology which often relies on vague
descriptions. AI also tends to be highly theoretical, which leads to general theoretical orientations having wide
applicability. The main disadvantage of AI is that there is a lot of controversy about the ultimate similarity
between human cognitive functioning and computer functioning.

Some of the major differences between brains and computers were spelled out in the following terms by
Churchland (1989, p.100):

"The brain seems to be a computer with a radically different style.


For example, the brain changes as it learns, it appears to store and process
information in the same places...Most obviously, the brain is a parallel
machine, in which many interactions occur at the same time in many different
channels."

This contrasts with most computer functions which involves serial processing and relatively few interactions.

References:

1. Churchland, P.S. (1989). From Descartes to neural networks. Scientific American , July, 100.
2. Eysenck, M.W. (Ed.). (1990). The Blackwell Dictionary of Cognitive Psychology. Cambridge, MA: Basil
Blackwell.

See Also:
Cognitive Science | Cognitive Psychology

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Artificial Intelligence)

Contributed by L.A. Keple

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Associative Memory)

Associative Memory

At its simplest, an associative memory is a system which stores mappings of specific input
representations to specific output representations. That is to say, a system that "associates" two patterns
such that when one is encountered subsequently, the other can be reliably recalled. Kohonen draws an
analogy between associative memory and an adaptive filter function [2]. The filter can be viewed as
taking an ordered set of input signals, and transforming them into another set of signals---the output of
the filter. It is the notion of adaptation, allowing its internal structure to be altered by the transmitted
signals, which introduces the concept of memory to the system.

A further refinement in terminology is possible with regard to the associative memory concept, and is
ubiquitous in connectionist (neural network) literature in particular. A memory that reproduces its input
pattern as output is referred to as autoassociative (i.e. associating patterns with themselves). One that
produces output patterns dissimilar to its inputs is termed heteroassociative (i.e. associating patterns with
other patterns).

Most associative memory implementations are realized as connectionist networks. Hopfield's collective
computation network [1] serves as an excellent example of an autoassociative memory, whereas
Rosenblatt's perceptron [3] is often utilized as a heteroassociator. There are many practical problems
implementing effective associative memories however, most notably their inefficiency; the tendency is
for them to fill up and become unreliable rather quickly. This is a long running open problem for both
connectionism and adaptive filter theory---one that Kohonen refers to as the "problem of infinite state
memory" [2].

References:

1. J.J. Hopfield. Neural networks and physical systems with emergent collective computation
abilities. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. 79:2554-2558, 1982.
2. T. Kohonen. Self-Organization and Associative Memory. Springer Series In Information Sciences,
Vol.8. Springer-Verlag, Berlin, Heidelberg, New York, Tokyo, 1984.
3. F. Rosenblatt. Principles of Neurodynamics. Spartan, New York, 1962.

See Also
Connectionism| Content Addressable Memory

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Associative Memory)

Contributed by David B. McCaughan

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Attention)

Attention

"Attention" is a term commonly used in education, psychiatry and psychology. The definition is often vague.
Attention can be defined as an internal cognitive process by which one actively selects environmental information
(ie. sensation) or actively processes information from internal sources (ie. visceral cues or other thought
processes). In more general terms, attention can be defined as an ability to focus and maintain interest in a given
task or idea, including managing distractions.

William James, a 19th century psychologist, explains attention as follows:

"Everyone knows what attention is. It is the taking possession by the


mind in clear and vivid form, of one out of what seem several simultaneously
possible objects or trains of thought...It implies withdrawl from some things
in order to deal effectively with others, and is a condition which has a real
opposite in the confused, dazed, scatterbrained state." (1890, p. 403)

Attention is important to psychologists because it is often considered a core cognitive process, a basis on which to
study other cognitive processes; most importantly learning. DeGangi and Porges (1990) illustrate only "when a
person is actively engaged in voluntary attention, functional purposeful activity and learning can occur." (p. 6)
Poor attention is often a key symptom of behaviour disorders such as hyperactivity and learning disorders.

References:

1. DeGangi, G., & Porges, S. (1990). Neuroscience foundations of human performance. Rockville, MD:
American Occupational Therapy Association.
2. James, W. (1890). Principles of psychology. New York: Holt.

See Also:
Attention Getting | Attention Holding | Sustained Attention

Contributed by Cassie Jacknicke

Dictionary Home Page | Letter Index | Search Index

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Attention Getting)

Attention Getting

Attention getting is more than just the orienting reflex, it is the "initial orientation or alerting to a
stimulus." Though this may be considered an automatic act, in fact it requires complex active thought
processing. Attention getting is reliant on the qualitative nature of the stimulus. The stimulus must be
stong enough to elicit a response.

DeGangi and Porges (1990) explain the types of stimuli that are attention getting vary according to past
experiences of the individual, what they already know, individual reactivity to sensory stimuli, and what
an individual has determined to be important to them. A hungry person may be more apt to pay attention
to the smell of food than the sounds surrounding them in a traffic jam!

Attention getting is important to psychologists, particularily developmental psychologists because of its


role in learning. A child's chosen attention getting stimuli can guide his/her learning abilities. "A child
who learns better through the auditory channel will orient more readily to a song about body parts than a
picture of a body."

References:

1. DeGangi, G., & Porges, S. (1990). Neuroscience foundations of human performance. Rockville,
MD: American Occupational Therapy Association.

See Also:
Attention Holding | Attention Releasing | Sustained Attention

Contributed by Cassie Jacknicke

Dictionary Home Page | Letter Index | Search Index

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Attention Holding)

Attention Holding

Attention holding is the "maintenance of attention when a stimulus is intricate or novel." Stimuli that
hold our attention must be both novel and complex in order to encourage information processing.
Attention holding is measured by how long one engages in a cognitive activity involving that stimulus.

Attention holding is important because of its role in learning. If an activity or stimulus is moderately
complex, the person will expend energy in information processing. In other words, the person will
expend energy in learning. Unfortunately, this can be complicated by poor motivation. Low motivation
may present a challenge as the psychologist (or other professional) must determine if the decreased
motivation is due to sensory processing problems, cognitive impairment, or other learning-related
problems (of which poor attention holding may be identified).

References:

1. DeGangi, G., & Porges, S. (1990). Neuroscience foundations of human performance. Rockville,
MD: American Occupational Therapy Association.

See Also:
Attention Getting | Attention Releasing | Sustained Attention

Contributed by Cassie Jacknicke

Dictionary Home Page | Letter Index | Search Index

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Attention Releasing)

Attention Releasing

Attention releasing is the final stage in DeGangi and Porges' (1990) process of sustained attention.
Attention releasing can simply be defined as the "releasing or turning off of attention from a stimulus."
Attention releasing can occur for a variety of reasons. A person can fatigue physically or mentally
requiring release of attention. Arousal level can decrease, therefore a different type/strength of stimuli
becomes required to maintain an alert and active state.

Attention releasing provides a person with a method to reach closure on a given activity, task, or event
thereby allowing that person to switch attention to something new. As with attention getting and holding,
attention releasing (the ability to shift focus) plays an important role in the learning process.

References:

1. DeGangi, G., & Porges, S. (1990). Neuroscience foundations of human performance. Rockville,
MD: American Occupational Therapy Association.

See Also:
Attention Holding | Attention Getting | Sustained Attention

Contributed by Cassie Jacknicke

Dictionary Home Page | Letter Index | Search Index

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University of Alberta Cognitive Science Dictionary (Home Page)

The University of Alberta's Cognitive


Science Dictionary
This site is edited and maintained by Dr. Michael R.W. Dawson and David A. Medler..

On January 21, 1997 this dictionary received an Editor's Choice Award from:

"It often does more harm than good to force definitions on things we don't
understand. Besides, only in logic and mathematics do definitions ever
capture concepts perfectly. The things we deal with in practical life are
usually too complicated to be represented by neat, compact expressions.
Especially when it comes to understanding minds, we still know so little
that we can't be sure our ideas about psychology are even aimed in the right
directions. In any case, one must not mistake defining things for knowing
what they are."

-- Marvin Minsky, from The Society Of Mind, 1985

With this warning from Professor Minsky keenly in mind, feel free to explore the dictionary entries below.

As of February 24, 1997 111 entries have been made to the Dictionary.

To find an entry in the dictionary, you can...

● index by first letter, or

● search for a specific term.

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University of Alberta Cognitive Science Dictionary (Home Page)

You can also submit a new entry to the Cognitive Science Dictionary.

Note: Currently, only students registered within PSYCO 560 and INTD 554 at the University of Alberta may
submit terms.

This dictionary of cognitive science terms was initiated by Dr. Michael Dawson, and introduced as a class project
for Psychology 560, a graduate course in memory and cognition, and Interdisciplinary Studies 554, a graduate
course in cogntive science (both are offered at the University of Alberta). The project was designed to give
students the opportunity to learn more about the basic concepts of cognitive science, and also to learn about the
delivery of information via the world wide web. This page is maintained by Dr. Michael Dawson, and is
protected by copyright.

Pearl Street | Dawson Home Page

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Behavioural Indeterminacy)

Behavioural Indeterminacy

The claim that in principle psychology is restricted to establishing weak equivalence. Weak equivalence
is equivalence with respect to input/output behaviour. Therefore, measuring behavioural data is unable to
establish equivalence at the level of functional architecture. Behavioural studies are indeterminate with
respect to strong equivalence.

This issue is of importance to cognitive psychology because, if true, it implies that cognitive psychology
cannot generate insight into cognition without importing knowledge based on non-behavioural
observations from other disciplines.

References:

1. Pylyshyn, Z. W. (1989). Computing in cognitive science. In M. I. Posner (Ed.), Foundations of


cognitive science, Cambridge MA: MIT Press.

See Also:
Functional Architecture | Strong Equivalence | Weak Equivalence

Contributed by J. Andrews

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Biological Naturalism)

Bilogical Naturalism
Promoted by John Searle, Biological Naturalism states that consciousness is a higher level function of the
brain's physical capabilities. The neurophysiological processes in the brain cause mental phenomena,
which are also a feature of the brain. However, such features as consciousness are not reducible to
neurophysiological systems. Not all brains produce this higher level functioning, and there are many
questions still open in Biological Naturalism, which Searle himself points out, for example: how does
neurophysiology account for the range of mental phenomena? how does consciousness come about? how
advanced does a neurophysiological system have to be to produce consciousness?

References:

1. Searle, John. The Rediscovery of the Mind. MIT Press, Massachusetts. 1994

Contributed by Devon Bryce

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Bottom-Up Processing)

Bottom-Up Processing

The cognitive system is organized hierarchically. The most basic perceptual systems are located at the
bottom of the hierarchy, and the most complex cogntive (e.g. memory, problem solving) systems are
located at the top of the hierarchy.

Information can flow both from the bottom of the system to the top of the system and from the top of the
system to the bottom of the system. When information flows from the bottom of the sytstem to the top of
the system this is called "bottom-up" processing. Lower level systems categorize and describe incoming
perceptual information and pass this descriptive information onto hiher levels for more complex
processing.

See Also:
Top-Down Processing

Contributed by Jeff Stepnisky

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Broca's Area)

Broca's Area
Named for Paul Broca who first described it in 1861, Broca's area is the section of the brain which is
involved in speech production, specifically assessing syntax of words while listening, and
comprehending structural complexity. People suffering from neurophysiological damage to this area
(called Broca's aphasia or nonfluent aphasia) are unable to understand and make grammatically complex
sentences. Speech will consist almost entirely of content words.

Auditory and speech information is transported from the auditory area to Wernicke's area for evaluation
of significance of content words, then to Broca's area for analysis of syntax. In speech production,
content words are selected by neural systems in Wernicke's area, grammatical refinements are added by
neural systems in Broca's area, and then the information is sent to the motor cortex, which sets up the
muscle movements for speaking.

References:

1. Gray, Peter. (1994). Psychology. New York, NY: Worth Publishing.

See Also:
Wernicke's Area

Contributed by Devon Bryce

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Cascade Processing)

Cascade Processing

Under the assumption that a cpmplex task can be broken down into distinct stages of information
processing, and that these stages can be sequentially ordered, the complex task can be performed by
completing each distinct stage.

Unlike discrete processing, with cascade models the latter stages of information processing can begin
operating before the completion of earlier information processing stages. Connectionist models of
information processing operate in a cascade manner and are important for the way in which these models
can learn relationships between stimule and responses.

Depending on the complexity of the information being processed, it may be transmitted between some
processing stages in a cascade manner, but in other stages it may be processed in a discrete manner.

References:

1. Eysenck, M.W. (Ed.). (1990). The Blackwell Dictionary of Cognitive Psychology. Cambridge,
MA: Basil Blackwell.

See Also:
Discrete Processsing

Contributed by Valerie Trifts

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Central Executive)

Central Executive

The central executive, the most important yet least well understood component of Baddeley's (1986) working memory
model, is postulated to be responsible for the selection, initiation, and termination of processing routines (e.g.,
encoding, storing, retrieving). Baddeley (1986, 1990) equates the central executive with the supervisory attentional
system (SAS) described by Norman and Shallice (1980) and by Shallice (1982).

According to Shallice (1982), the supervisory attentional system is a limited capacity system and is used for a variety of
purposes, including:

● tasks involving planning or decision making


● trouble shooting in situations in which the automatic processes appear to be running into difficulty
● novel situations
● dangerous or technically difficult situations
● situations where strong habitual responses or temptations are involved

Extensive damage to the frontal lobes may result in impairments in central executive functioning. Baddeley (1986)
coined the term dysexecutive syndrome (DES) to describe dysfunctions of the central executive. The classic frontal
syndrome is characterized by

disturbed attention, increased distractibility, a difficulty in grasping the


whole of a copmlicated state of affairs ... well able to work along old routines
... (but) ... cannot learn to master new types of task, in new situations ...
[the patient is] at a loss. (Rylander, 1939, p.20)

In other words, patients suffering from frontal lobe syndrome lack flexibility and the ability to control their processing
resources, functions attributed to the central executive.

References:

1. Baddeley, A.D. (1990). Human memory: Theory and practice,. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
2. Baddeley, A.D. (1986). Working memory. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
3. Norman, D.A., & Shallice, T. (1980). Attention to action. Willed and automatic control of behavior. University
of California San Diego CHIP Report 99.
4. Shallice, T. (1982). Specific impairments of planning. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society London
B 298, 199-209.
5. Rylander, G. (1939). Personality changes after operations on the frontal lobes. Acta Psychiatrica Neurologica,
Supplement No. 30.

See Also:
Articulatory Loop | Visuospatial Sketchpad | Working Memory

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Central Executive)

Contributed by Bonnie M. French

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Cognitive Development)

Cognitive Development (In Children)

Generally it is referred to the changes which occur to a person's cognitive structures, abilities, and
processes. The most widely known theory of childhood cognitive development was proposed by Jean
Piaget in 1969. He proposed the idea that cognitive development consisted of the development of logical
competence, and that the development of this competence consists of four major stages:

1. sensori-motor
2. preoperational
3. concrete operational
4. formal operational

He also argued that a child's cognitive performance depended more on the stage of development he was
in than on the specific task being performed.

More recent studies have cast some doubt on Piaget's theory of homogeneous performance within a given
stage. Instead, it is now believed that performance varies greatly within each stage and depends more on
the acquisition and development of language, perception, decision rules, and real-world knowledge for
any individual child.

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Cognitive Mapping)

Cognitive Mapping

Cognitive mapping is a general term that applies to a series of methods for measuring mental
representations. These techniques attempt to describe mental images that subjects use to encode
knowledge and information. Most researchers treat cognitive maps as a tool that can usefully summarise
and communicate information rather than as a literal description of mental images.

References:

1. Huff, A.S. (1990). Mapping Strategic Thought Chichester, John Wiley & Sons

See Also:

Contributed by J.P. Andrews

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Cognitive Penetrability)

Cognitive Penetrability

An approach to testing strong equivalence. The cognitive penetrability approach seeks to establish
whether phenomena are equivalent at the level of functional architecture by investigating whether
phenomena are independent of beliefs and goals, that is if they are primitive. If manipulation of beliefs
and goals systematically alters the empirical phenomenon then the phenomenon is not describing
functional architecture and is cognitively penetrable.

The cognitive penetrability approach was used in the imagary debate in cognitive science in the 1980's.

References:

1. Pylyshyn, Z. W. (1989). Computing in cognitive science. In M. I. Posner (Ed.), Foundations of


cognitive science. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

See Also:
Strong Equivalence | Weak Equivalence

Contributed by J. Andrews

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Cognitive Psychology)

Cognitive Psychology

Cognitive psychology is concerned with information processing, and includes a variety of processes such
as attention, perception, learning, and memory. It is also concerned with the structures and
representations involved in cognition. The greatest difference between the approach adopted by cognitive
psychologists and by the Behaviorists is that cognitive psychologists are interested in identifying in detail
what happens between stimulus and response.

Some of the ingredients of the information processing approach to cognition were spelled out by
Lachman, Lachman, and Butterfield (1979). In essence, it is assumed that the mind can be regarded as a
general purpose, symbol processing system, and that these symbols are transformed into other symbols as
a result of being acted on by different processes. The mind has structural and resource limitations, and so
should be thought of as a limited capacity processor.

A key issue in the field is the extent to which human and computer information processing systems
resemble one another. The consensual view is probably that there are indeed striking similarities between
computer minds, but there are also probably substantial differences. In recent years, explicitly cognitive
approaches have been adopted in social and developmental psychology, as well as in occupational and
clinical psychology.

References:

1. Eysenck, M.W. (Ed.). (1990). Blackwell Dictionary of Cognitive Psychology. Cambridge, MA:
Basil Blackwell.
2. Lachman, R., Lachman, J.L., & Butterfield, E.C., (1979) Cognitive psychology and information
processing. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

See Also:
Artificial Intelligence | Cognitive Science

Contributed by L.A. Keple

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Cognitive Psychology)

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary ()

Cognitive Science

Several students have supplied definitions for this term:

#1 | #2 | #3

Definition 1
"the study of intelligence and intelligent systems, with particular reference to intelligent behaviour as
computation" (Simon & Kaplan, 1989)

Simon, H. A. & C. A. Kaplan, "Foundations of cognitive science", in Posner, M.I. (ed.) 1989,
Foundations of Cognitive Science, MIT Press, Cambridge MA.

Contributed by J. Andrews, November 23, 1995

Definition 2
Cognitive science refers to the interdisciplinary study of the acquisition and use of knowledge. It includes
as contributing disciplines: artificial intelligence, psychology, linguistics, philosophy, anthropology,
neuroscience, and education. The cognitive science movement is far reaching and diverse, containing
within it several viewpoints.

Cognitive science grew out of three developments: the invention of computers and the attempts to design
programs that could do the kinds of tasks that humans do; the development of information processing
psychology where the goal was to specify the internal processing involved in perception, language,
memory, and thought; and the development of the theory of generative grammar and related offshoots in
linguistics. Cognitive science was a synthesis concerned with the kinds of knowledge that underlie
human cognition, the details of human cognitive processing, and the computational modeling of those
processes.

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary ()

There are five major topic areas in cognitive science: knowledge representation, language, learning,
thinking, and perception.

Eysenck, M.W. ed. (1990). The Blackwell Dictionary of Cognitive Psychology. Cambridge,
Massachusetts: Basil Blackwell Ltd.

See Also:
Cognitive Psychology I Artificial Intelligence

Contributed by: L.A. Keple, November 5, 1995

Definition 3
Generally stated, this is the study of intelligence and intelligence systems.

It is a relatively new science that combines knowledge gained from a number of disciplines. These
include: computer science,neuroscience, cognitive psychology, philosophy, and linguistics.

As a result of the collaborative effort between these disciplines, there have been, and will continue to be,
huge advancements in our understanding of human cognition.

See Also:
Neuroscience

Contributed by M. Kincade

Dictionary Home Page

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Connectionism)

Connectionism

Connectionism is an alternate computational paradigm to that provided by the von Neumann architecture.
Originally taking its inspiration from the biological neuron and neurological organization, it emphasizes
collections of simple processing elements in place of the monolithic processors seen more commonly
within computing. These simple processing elements are typically only capable of rudimentary
calculations (such as summation), however possess a high degree of weighted inter-connectivity with one
another and generally operate in parallel [2].

A particular organization of inter-connected processing elements (a network), is paired with a


mathematical basis by which the connection weights are adjusted (or simply calculated directly). This
allows a network to either learn a task by iterating on training examples (induction learning), or to
provide a system in which solutions to particular problems can be computed. Arguably the most widely
used example of the former is the multi-layer perceptron trained via error back-propagation (see [5], for
example); whereas the latter is typified by networks such as the Hopfield and Tank model for
combinatorial optimization [3].

To the casual reader, "connectionism", "parallel distributed processing" (PDP) and "neural networks"
may be entirely synonymous. The term "neural network" is somewhat misleading to begin with as, aside
from the original inspiration coming from biology, there is nothing particularly "neural" about them and
any perceived biological relevance is often debatable. There is also merit in making a philosophical
distinction between PDP and connectionism. For example, over time, PDP has been disposed to seek
biological relevance for their models, tended to emphasize learning oriented tasks and follow a largely
empirical approach. The field of neural networks has become richer than is encompassed by the
traditional view of PDP.

Connectionism distinguishes itself by also viewing the network model as a computational architecture.
This encompasses a wider range of network structures for which biological relevance is not an issue or
for which a learning process per se is not utilized. Falling into areas such as these include a wealth of
recent work which has sought to establish the formal relationship between computational power of
connectionist networks and abstract machines (for example [1],[4]), and even harkens back to the
aforementioned Hopfield and Tank model which computes solutions to problems by minimizing energy
within a pre-wired system of weights [3].

In this respect, connectionism subsumes PDP. That is to say that PDP researchers are connectionists,
however not all connectionists consider themselves to be PDP researchers. Although debatable, this point
is one that this author, among others, feels is an important one.

References:

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Connectionism)

1. C.L. Giles, B.G. Horne, T. Lin. Learning a class of large finite state machines with a recurrent
neural network. Neural Networks. 8(9):1359-1365, 1995.
2. J. Hertz, A. Krogh and R.G. Palmer. Introduction to the theory of neural computation. Addison-
Wesley, Redwood City, 1991.
3. J.J. Hopfield and D.W. Tank. `Neural' computation of decisions in optimization problems.
Biological Cybernetics. 52:141-152.
4. S.C. Kremer. On the computational power of Elman-style recurrent networks. IEEE Transactions
on Neural Networks. 6(4):1000-1004, 1995.
5. D.E. Rumelhart, G.E. Hinton, and R.J. Williams. Learning internal representations by error
propagation. In D.E. Rumelhart and J.L. McClelland, editors, Parallel Distributed Processing,
volume 1. MIT Press, Cambridge, 1986.

See Also
Associative Memory| Content Addressable Memory| Induction Learning| Learning Rule| Machine
Learning| Parallel Distributed Processing Models

Contributed by David B. McCaughan

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Consciousness)

Consciousness

Consciousness refers to awareness of our own mental processes (or of the products of such processes).
This awareness can be made manifest by introspective reports, in which an individual provides
information about his or her mental experience.

There has been a considerable amount of controversy over the centuries concerning the value of
psychology of assessing the contents of consciousness by means of introspective evidence. Aristotle
claimed that the only way to study thinking was by introspection. Others, such as Galton (1883), argued
that the position of consciousness "appears to be a helpless spectator of but a minute fraction of
automatic brain work. Behaviorists tend to agree with Galton that psychologists should not concern
themselves with consciousness and introspection.

There are certain cognitivists who would disagree with these definitions. Marvin Minsky (1985),
maintains that human consciousness can never represent what is occurring at the present moment, but
only a little of the recent past. This is due both because agencies have limited capacity to represent what
happened recently and partly because it take time for agencies to communicate with one another.
Consciousness is difficult to describe because each time we attempt to examine temporary memories, we
distort the very record we are trying to interpret.

References:

1. Eysenck, M.W. (Ed.). (1990). Blackwell Dictionary of Cognitive Psychology . Cambridge, MA:
Basil Blackwell.
2. Galton, F. (1883). Inquiries into human faculty and its development. London: Macmillan.
3. Minsky, M. (1985). The society of mind. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster.

See Also:
Mandelbrot Set

Contributed by L.A. Keple

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Consciousness)

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Content Addressable Memory)

Content Addressable Memory

In a symbolic system information is stored in an external mechanism. In the example of the computer it
is stored in files on the disks. As the information has been encoded in some form of file system in order
to retrieve that information one must know the index system of the files. In other words, data can only be
accessed by certain attributes. In a connectionist system the data is stored in the activation pattern of the
units. Hence, if a processing unit receives excitatory input from one of its connections, each of its other
connections will either be excited or inhibited. If these connections represent the attributes of the data
then the data may be recalled by any one of its attributes, not just those that are part of an indexing
system. As these connections represent the content of the data, this type of memory is called content
addressable memory. This type of memory has the advantage of allowing greater flexibility of recall and
is more robust. This distributed memory is able to work its way around errors by reconstructing
information that may have been lesioned from the system.

References:

1. Bechtel, W., & Abrahamsen, A. (1991). Connectionism and the mind: An introduction to parallel
processing in networks. Cambridge, MA: Blackwell.

See Also:
Functional Architecture | Graceful Degradation | Parallel Distributed Processing Models | Spontaneous
Generalisation | Symbolic Architecture

Contributed by J. Andrews

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Crystallized Intelligence)

Crystallized Intelligence

Crystallized intelligence can be defined as "the extent to which a person has absorbed the content of
culture."(Belsky, 1990, p. 125) It is the store of knowledge or information that a given society has
accumulated over time.

Crystallized intelligence is measured by most of the verbal subtests of the Wechsler Adult Intelligence
Scale (WAIS).

Crystallized intelligence is important to psychologists as it relates to the study of aging. There is ongoing
intense debate among psychologists as to whether or not intelligence declines with aging. Horn (1970)
hypothesized that because crystallized intelligence is based on learning and experience, it remains
relatively stable over time. He claims it may even increase "as the rate at which we acquire or learn new
information in the course of living balances out or exceeds the rate at which we forget." (as cited in
Belsky, 1990, p. 125) On the other side of the debate, Belsky (1990) claims crystallized intelligence in
fact declines with age. Why? Because, "at a certain time of life the cumulative effect of losses - of job, of
health, of relationships - cause disengagement from the culture, and so forgetting finally exceeds the rate
at which knowledge is acquired." (p. 125)

References:

1. Belsky, J. K. (1990). The psychology of aging theory, research, and interventions. Pacific Grove,
CA: Brooks/Cole.
2. Horn, J. (1970). Organization of data on life-span development of human abilities. In R. Goulet
and P.B. Baltes (Eds.). Life-span developmental psychology: Research and theory. New York:
Academic Press.

See Also:
Fluid Intelligence | WAIS

Contributed by Cassie Jacknicke

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Crystallized Intelligence)

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Cued Recall)

Cued Recall

This is a component of a memory task in which the subject is asked to recall items that were presented to
them on an intial training, or initial presentation list.

However, it is slightly different than the free recall task because the subject is given a hint, or a cue,
about the items on the original list. For example, and experimenter may say: "Tell me all the words from
the list that were animals".

See Also:
Free Recall | Intrusions | Perseverations

Contributed by M. Kincade

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Deductive Inference)

Deductive (Logical) Inference

Inferences are made when a person (or machine) goes beyond available evidence to form a conclusion.
With a deductive inference, this conclusion always follows the stated premises. In other words, if the
premises are true, then the conclusion is valid. Studies of human efficiency in deductive inference
involves conditional reasoning problems which follow the "if A, then B" format.

The task of making deductions consists of three stages. First, a person must understand the meaning of
the premises. Next they must be able to formulate a valid conclusion. Thirdly, a person should evaluate
their conclusion to tests its validity. Although deductive inference is easy to test or model, the results of
this type of inference never increase the semantic information above what is already stated in the
premises.

References:

1. Eysenck, M.W. (Ed.). (1990). The Blackwell dictionary of cognitive psychology. Cambridge, MA:
Basil Blackwell.
2. Johnson-Laird, P. N. (1993). Human and machine thinking. Hillsdale, NJ : Lawrence Erlbaum
Associates.

See Also:
Inductive Inference

Contributed by Valerie Trifts

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Dementia)

Dementia

Dementia is a clinical state characterized by loss of function in multiple cognitive domains. The most
commonly used criteria for diagnoses of dementia is the DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for
Mental Disorders, American Psychiatric Association). Diagnostic features include :

● memory impairment and at least one of the following: aphasia, apraxia, agnosia, disturbances in
executive functioning.
● In addition, the cognitive impairments must be severe enough to cause impairment in social and
occupational functioning.
● Importantly, the decline must represent a decline from a previously higher level of functioning.
● Finally, the diagnosis of dementia should NOT be made if the cognitive deficits occur exclusively
during the course of a delirium.

There are many different types of dementia (approximately 70 to 80). Some of the major disorders
causing dementia are:

1. Degenerative diseases (e.g., Alzheimer's Disease, Pick's Disease)


2. Vascular Dementia (e.g., Multi-infarct Dementia)
3. Anoxic Dementia (e.g., Cardiac Arrest)
4. Traumatic Dementia (e.g., Dementia pugilistica [boxer's dementia])
5. Infectious Dementia (e.g., Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease)
6. Toxic Dementia (e.g., Alcoholic Dementia)

7.9 % of all Canadians 65 years and older meet the criteria for the clinical diagnoses of dementia
(Canadian Study on Health and Aging, 1994). Alzheimer's Disease is the major cause of dementia,
accounting for 64% of all dementias in Canada for persons 65 and older and 75% of all dementias for
persons 85 plus.

References:

1. American Psychiatric Association (1994). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders
(4th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.
2. Canadian study of health and aging: Study methods and prevalence of dementia. (1994).
Canadian Medical Association Journal, 150(6).

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Dementia)

See Also:
Alzheimer's Disease

Contributed by Bonnie M. French

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Discrete Processing)

Discrete Processing

A model using discrete processing requires that information is passed from one stage to another only
after the processing in the first stage is complete. Therefore, the processing time required in a discrete
model is additive and equal to the sum of the time taken at each level of processing.

The advantage of this type of model is that it provides a convienent method of understanding the effects
of different variables on the performance of a given task.

References:

1. Eysenck, M.W. (Ed.). (1990). The Blackwell Dictionary of Cognitive Psychology. Cambridge,
MA: Basil Blackwell.

See Also:
Cascade Processsing

Contributed by Valerie Trifts

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (The Disjunction Problem)

The Disjunction Problem

Any theory of the content of a representation must be able to explain how a representation can
misrepresent --how it can represent an object as being something it is not, or as having properties it does
not have-- basically how its content can be false of the object represented.

The difficulty is that we need to explain --in a principled, non-circular way-- how the representation can
correctly represent some things which cause its activation, yet misrepresent other things which cause its
activation. For instance, we9d like to be able to say that my kangaroo representation represents
kangaroos. If so, then if a wallaby causes the activation of that representation, then the wallaby is
misrepresented; the representation9s content that9s a kangaroo is false of the wallaby.

Unfortunately, to Fodor (1987, 1990) this doesn9t work. The problem is that if the wallaby can also
cause the activation of my kangaroo representation, then we seem to have no principled reason for
saying that the content of the representation is simply that9s a kangaroo rather than the disjunctive
content that9s either a kangaroo or a wallaby. If this is so, then when a wallaby activates my kangaroo
representation, this representation doesn9t represent the wallaby as something it is not. This
representation has the (disjunctive) content that9s either a kangaroo or it9s a wallaby which, of course,
is true of the wallaby.

This content might better be described as 3unspecific2, rather than 3disjunctive2. That is, perhaps the
content is something like an unspecific description which applies correctly to all the things which can
activate it, such as that9s a large animal with a long tail that gets about by hopping on its hind legs. So
to say that some things which activate the representation are correctly represented and others are
misrepresented doesn9t work. Even if I9ve only ever seen kangaroos, and have never met a wallaby, the
wallaby can be correctly represented by this representation, because the wallaby is also a large animal
with a long tail that gets about by hopping on its hind legs.

This is especially a problem for theories which explain content in terms of covariance: some sort of
reliable, lawlike, connection between tokenings of the representation and the occurrence of certain types
of thing in the world. Such theories have to be able to justify describing the representation9s content
3conservatively2 as Cummins (1990) calls it, rather than 3liberally2; as that9s a kangaroo rather than
that9s a large animal with a long tail that gets about by hopping on its hind legs. Cummins summarises
various attempts to do this, arguing that covariance theories don9t explain content in a way that allows
representations to misrepresent.

Fodor (1990) claims that any theory which purports to account for the content of a representation must
solve the disjunction problem. Such an account must be able to explain misrepresentation, by showing
what a representation9s content is--exactly-- and also how a representation can be caused to be activated

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (The Disjunction Problem)

by something to which that content does not apply.

References:

1. Cummins, R. (1989). Meaning and Mental Representation. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press. A
Bradford Book.
2. Fodor, J. (1987). 3Meaning and the World Order2. In Psychosemantics (pp. 97-133). Cambridge
Mass.: MIT Press. A Bradford Book.
3. Fodor, J. (1990). 3A Theory of Content I: The Problem2. In A Theory of Content and Other
Essays. (pp. 51-88). Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press. A Bradford Book.

See Also:
Semantics | Misrepresentation | Representation

Contributed by Mason Cash

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Elaborative Rehearsal)

Elaborative Rehearsal

Elaborative rehearsal is a type of rehearsal proposed by Craik and Lockhart (1972) in their Levels of
Processing model of memory. In contrast to maintenance rehearsal, which involves simple rote
repetition, elaborative rehearsal involves deep sematic processing of a to-be-remembered item resulting
in the production of durable memories.

For example, if you were presented with a list of digits for later recall (4920975), grouping the digits
together to form a phone number transforms the stimuli from a meaningless string of digits to something
that has meaning.

References:

1. Craik, F.I.M., & Lockhart, R.S. (1972). Levels of processing. A framework for memory research.
Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behaviour, 11, 671-684.

See Also:
Levels of Processing | Maintenance Rehearsal

Contributed by Bonnie M. French

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Enactment)

Enactment

Weick (1988) describes the term enactment as representing the notion that when people act they bring
structures and events into existence and set them in action. The process of enactment involves two steps.
First, preconceptions are used to set aside portions of the field of experience for further attention, that is,
perception is focused on predetermined stimuli. Second, people act within the context of these portions
of experience guided by preconceptions in such a way as to reinforce these preconceptions. Hence,
attention to certain stimuli will guide subsequent action so that those stimuli are confirmed as important.
The result of the process of enactment is the enacted environment (Weick, 1988). This enacted
environment comprises "real" objects but the significance, meaning and content of these objects will
vary. These objects are not significant unless they are acted upon and incorporated into events, situations
and explanations. In this way the enacted environment is a direct result of the preconceptions held by the
social actor. An enacted environment is internalised by social actors as the way in which actions have led
to certain consequences; it is therefore analogous to the concept of schema and is the source of
expectations for future action (Weick, 1988) . An enacted environment is "a map of if-then assertions in
which actions are related outcomes" that in turn serve as expectations for future action and focus
perception in such way that these preconceived relationships will be supported.

The importance of the notion of enactment is that it provides a direct link between individual cognitive
processes and environments. By showing how preconceptions can shape the nature of the environment
this concept allows one to argue the importance of schema in the sensemaking process. Schema guide
both perception and inference (Fiske & Taylor, 1991) and so will 'enact' environment by assigning
significance, meaning and content to objects perceived in the environment.

References:

1. Fiske, S.T., & Taylor, S.E. (1991). Social cognition (2nd ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill.
2. Weick, K. E. (1988). Enacted sensemaking in crisis situations. Journal of Management Studies,
24(4).

Contributed by Julian Andrews

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Encoding)

Encoding

Encoding refers to the processess of how items are placed into memory.

See Also:
Working Memory

Contributed by Bonnie M. French

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Encoding Specificity)

Encoding Specificity

The encoding specificity principle of memory (Tulving & Thomson, 1973) provides an general
theoretical framework for understanding how contextual information affects memory. Specifically, the
principle states that memory is improved when information available at encoding is also available at
retrieval. For example, the encoding specificity principle would predict that recall for information would
be better if subjects were tested in the same room they had studied in versus having studied in one room
and tested in a different room (see S.M. Smith, Glenberg, & Bjork, 1978).

References:

1. Smith, S.M., Glenberg, A.M., & Bjork, R.A. (1978). Environmental contest and human memory.
Memory and Cognition, 6, 342-353.
2. Tulving, E., & Thomson, D.M. (1973). Encoding specificity and retrieval processes in episodic
memory. Psychological Review, 80, 352-373.

See Also:
Encoding | Retrieval

Contributed by Bonnie M. French

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Equilibration)

Equilibration

According to Piaget, development is driven by the process of equilibration. Equilibration encompasses


assimilation (i.e., people transform incoming information so that it fits within their existing thinking) and
accommodation (i.e, people adapt their thinking to incoming information). Piaget suggested that
equilibration takes place in three phases.

First children are satisfied with their mode of thought and therefore are in a state of equilibrium.

Then, they become aware of the shortcomings in their existing thinking and are dissatisfied (i.e., are in a
state of disequilibration and experience cognitive conflict).

Last, they adopt a more sophisticated mode of thought that eliminates the shortcomings of the old one
(i.e., reach a more stable equilibrium).

See Also:
Adaptation | Piaget's Stage Theory of Development

Contributed by J. Sandwell

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Error Analysis)

Error Analysis

One of the key goals of cognitive science is to develop theories that are strongly equivalent with respect
to to-be-explained systems. This requires that evidence be collected to defend the claim that the model
and the to-be-explained system are carrying out the same procedures to compute a function.

One kind of information that could be used to examine this claim is called error analysis. In an error
analysis, one could (for two different systems) rank order problems in terms of their difficulty, as
revealed by their likelihood to produce mistakes. This is an example of relative complexity evidence. A
more detailed approach would be to classify the nature of the errors that each system made. In either
case, if the two systems were strongly equivalent, then we would expect them to produce the same rank
orderings of difficulty, and to also produce the same qualitative patterns of errors.

References:

1. Pylyshyn, Z.W. (1984). Computation and cognition. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

See Also:
Intermediate State Evidence | Protocol Analysis | Relative Complexity Evidence | Strong Equivalence

Contributed by M.R.W. Dawson

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Extension

Extension

The extension of the term 'cat' is the class of 'cat'.

What a term means has two components: i) the referent of the term--this is 'class' talk, and is the
component of meaning to which 'extension' applies; and ii) the sense of the term, i.e., all of the
psychological associations that one has with that term--this is 'concept' talk. This second sense is referred
to as the 'intension' of the term.

Examples of the two components follow. The referent of the term 'cat' is all the cats; the sense of the term
is related to your experience of cats, their history, their attributes, etc. A classic example is 'the morning
star' and 'the evening star'; both of which refer to the same thing, the planet 'Venus', but the sense of
'morning star' and 'evening star' is not the same. You cannot change the terms in a statement including
one of them and retain the same truth value.

Other words sometimes used to pick out the distinctions between 'extension' and 'intension' are
'denotation' and 'connotation', respectively. Note the following definition by Cohen and Nagel:

A term [an element of a proposition] may be viewed in two ways, either as a class of
objects (which may have only one member), or as a set of attributes or characteristics
which determine the objects. The first phase or aspect is called the denotation or extension
of the term, while the second is called the connotation or intension. The extension of the
term 'philosopher' is 'Socrates', 'Plato', 'Thales', and the like; its intension is 'lover of
wisdom', 'intelligent', and so on. (31)

The distinctions in the meaning of a term are important to clarify. Without such distinctions, no
discussion of meaning in general can begin. If we wish to construct models and theories of human
language and thought--and here talk of meaning necessarily enters--we need to make precise those issues
and problems we specifically want to address.

Cohen, M. R. and Nagel, E. (1993). An Introduction to Logic. Indianapolis, Indiana: Hackett


Publishing Company.

See Also:
Intension

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Extension

Contributed by C. P. Watling, February 27, 1996.

Dictionary Home Page

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Fluid Intelligence)

Fluid Intelligence

Fluid intelligence is tied to biology. It is defined as our "on-the-spot reasoning ability, a skill not
basically dependant on our experience." (Belsky, 1990, p. 125) Belsky (1990) indicates this type of
intelligence is active when the central nervous system (CNS) is at its physiological peak.

Fluid intelligence is measured by the performance subtasks on the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale
(WAIS).

Fluid intelligence is important to psychologists as it relates to the study of aging. There is ongoing
intense debate among psychologists as to whether or not intelligence declines with aging. Belsky (1990)
claims fluid intelligence "reaches a peak in early adulthood and then regularly declines." (p. 125) This is
because of the physiological changes that accompany aging. "The development of CNS structures is
exceeded by the rate of CNS breakdown." (Horn, 1970 as quoted in Belsky, 1990, p. 125)

References:

1. Belsky, J. K. (1990). The psychology of aging theory, research, and interventions. Pacific Grove,
CA: Brooks/Cole.
2. Horn, J. (1970). Organization of data on life-span development of human abilities. In R. Goulet
and P.B. Baltes (Eds.). Life-span developmental psychology: Research and theory. New York:
Academic Press.

See Also:
Crystallized Intelligence | WAIS

Contributed by Cassie Jacknicke

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (The Formality Condition)

The Formality Condition

The semantic properties of a representation are the properties it has due to its relationship with the world;
properties such as being true, of being a representation of something, of saying something about some
object. On the other hand, the properties that the representation has in itself, are its formal properties.
Fodor (1980) defines a representation9s formal properties negatively, by specifying what they are not:
3Formal properties are the ones that can be specified without reference to such semantic properties as,
for example, truth reference, and meaning.2 (p.227) Fodor stresses that formal properties are not
syntactic properties. A representation can have formal properties, and a process can operate on those
formal properties, without that representationhaving a syntax (p227); rotating an image on a screen, for
instance this operation is performed on the image9s formal properties, but the image doesn9t even have a
syntax..

The point for a computational theory of mind, which takes mental processes to be formal operations on
representations, (and thus, to Fodor, taking the mind to be a 3kind of computer2) is that such processes
only have access to a representation9s formal properties. Computational processes do not have any
access to semantic properties; that is, to a representation's relationships with the world.

Thus the processes that operate on representations cannot operate on the basis of what this is a
representation of, or whether it represents that thing correctly or not, but only on the character of the
representation itself, its 3shape2 as it were. Thus the Formality Condition incurs what Putnam (1975)
calls Methodological Solipsism.

3If mental processes are formal, then they have access only to the formal properties of
such representations of the environment as the senses provide. Hence, they have no access
to the semantic properties of such representations, including the property of being true, of
having referents, or, indeed, the property of being representations of the environment.2
(Fodor (1980), p231, Fodor9s emphasis)

The solution to this methodological solipsism is to pair a computational psychology with what Fodor
calls a naturalistic psychology: a theory of the relations between representations and the world, which fix
the semantic interpretations of representations9 formal properties. (p233) That is, a representation9s
formal properties must somehow mirror the representation9s semantic properties, so that operations can
operate on formal properties which can at least be interpreted as saying something about some part of the
world (whether or not that interpretation is correct, true, appropriate, etc.).

References:

1. Fodor, J. (1980). Methodological Solipsism Considered as a Research Strategy in Cognitive

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (The Formality Condition)

Psychology. In Representations (pp. 225-253). Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press. A


Bradford Book.
2. Putnam, H. (1975). 3The Meaning of Meaning2. In K. Gunderson (Ed.), Minnesota Studies in the
Philosophy of Science (pp. 131-193). Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

See Also:
Semantics | Representation

Contributed by Mason Cash

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Free Recall)

Free Recall

Free recall is a basic paradigm used to study human memory. In a free recall task, a subject is presented a
list of to-be-remembered items, one at at time. For example, an experimenter might read a list of 20
words aloud, presenting a new word to the subject every 4 seconds. At the end of the presentation of the
list, the subject is asked to recall the items (e.g., by writing down as many items from the list as
possible). It is called a free recall task because the subject is free to recall the items in any order that he
or she desires.

The free recall task is of interest to cognitive science because it provided some of the basic information
used to decompose the mental state term "memory" into simpler subfunctions ("primary memory",
"secondary memory"). This is because the results of a free recall task were typically plotted as a serial
position curve. This curve exhibited a recency effect and a primacy effect. The behavior of these two
effects provided support to the hypothesis that the free recall task called upon both a short-term and a
long-term memory.

See Also:
Primacy Effect | Recency Effect | Serial Position Curve | Short Term Memory

Contributed by M.R.W. Dawson

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Functional Analysis)

Functional Analysis

Functional analysis is a methodology that is used to explain the workings of a complex system. The basic
idea is that the system is viewed as computing a function (or, more generally, as solving an information
processing problem). Functional analysis assumes that such processing can be explained by decomposing
this complex function into a set of simpler functions that are computed by an organized system of
subprocessors. The hope is that when this type of decomposition is performed, the subfunctions that are
defined will be simpler than the original function, and as a result will be easier to explain.

A very detailed treatment of functional analysis is provided by Cummins (1983). He proposes a three-
stage methodology that defines functional analysis. In the first stage, the to-be-explained function is
defined. In the second stage, analysis is performed. The to-be-explained function is decomposed into an
organized set of simpler functions. This analysis can proceed recursively by decomposing some (or all)
of the subfunctions into sub-subfunctions. In the third stage, analysis is stopped by subsuming the
bottom level of functions. This means that the operation of each of these operation is explained by
appealing to natural laws (e.g., mechanical or biological principles). If functional analysis is applied to an
information processing system, then the level of subsumed functions defines the functional architecture
for that information processor.

Functional analysis is important to cognitive science because it offers a natural methodology for
explaining how information processing is being carried out. For instance, any "black box diagram"
offered as a model or theory by a cogntive psychologist represents the result of carrying out the analytic
stage of functional analysis. Any proposal about what constitutes the cognitive architecture can be
viewed as a hypothesis about the nature of cognitive functions at the level at which these functions are
subsumed.

References:

1. Cummins, R. (1983). The nature of psychological explanation. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

See Also:
Functional Architecture | Primitive | Ryle's Regress

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Functional Analysis)

Contributed by M.R.W. Dawson

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Functional Architecture)

Functional Architecture

The functional architecture can be viewed as the set of basic information processing capabilities available to an
information processing system.

"Specifying the functional architecture of a system is like providing a


manual that defines some programming language. Indeed, defining a
programming language is equivalent to specifying the functional architecture
of a virtual machine" (Pylyshyn, 1984, p. 92).

In other words, if it is assumed that cognition is the result of the brain's "running of a program", then the
functional architecture is the language in which that program has been written.

The functional architecture is of interest to cognitive science because if offers an escape from Ryle's Regress
(a.k.a. the homunculus problem). The functional architecture is comprised of a set of primitive operations or
functions. This means that these basic functions cannot be explained by being further decomposed into less
complex ("smaller") subfunctions. Instead, they must be explained by appealing to implementational properties
(e.g., for human cognition, properties of the human brain). As a result, the functional architecture represents the
point at which the decomposition of mental state terms into other mental state terms via functional analysis can
stop. By specifying the functional architecture, one converts the black box descriptions that cognitivists create
into explanations.

References:

1. Pylyshyn, Z.W. (1984). Computation and cognition. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

See Also:
Functional Analysis | Primitive | Ryle's Regress

Contributed by M.R.W. Dawson

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Generalization)

Generalization

Klahr & Wallace (1982) felt that Piaget's theory of adaptation was not enough to explain cognitive
development. They therefore developed a new theory, and posited that the mechanism behind
development was generalization.

Klahr and Wallace divided generalization into three more specific categories: the time line, regularity
detection, and redundancy elimination (Siegler, 1991). These three categories are described below.

The Time Line

The time line contains the data on which generalizations are based. In Klahr and Wallace's theory,
whenever a system encounters a situation, it records the responses to that situation, the outcomes from
those actions, and what new situations arose as a result. This recording of events ensures that the system
keeps all the information about an even stored so that it can be referred back to in the future.

Regularity Detection

This process uses the contents of the time line to draw generalizations about experience. The system
notes situations that are similar and notes where variations do not change the outcomes of situations.

Redundancy Elimination

This process improves efficiency by identifying processeing steps that are unecessary. In this way, it
reaches a generalization that a less-complex sequence can achieve the same goal (Siegler, 1991).

Klahr and Wallace have developed a self-modifying computer simulation that models findings about
children's thinking, and can demonstrate these processes in generalization.

References:

1. Klahr, D. (1982). Nonmonotone assessment of monotone development: An information


processing analysis. In S. Strauss (Ed.), U-shaped behavioral growth. New York: Academic
Press.
2. Siegler, R. (1991). Children's thinking. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
3. Vasta, R., Haith, M. M., & Miller, S. A. (1995). Child psychology: The modern science. New
York, NY: Wiley.

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Generalization)

See Also:
Adaptation | Equilibration

Contributed by J. Sandwell

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Graceful Degradation)

Graceful Degradation

In a symbolic system removing part of the system will result in a clear degradation of performance.
Removing a symbol token will result in the loss of the information stored in that token. The loss of an
operating procedure destroys the systems ability to perform the missing process. The fall in performance
is sudden and clearly defined. In a connectionist system performance does fall sharply with either
damage to the system or erroneous inputs. Instead, the performance will decline gradually, depending on
the nature of the loss and the architecture of the system. This property means that connectionist models
still function relatively error free when the system has damage to its connections or units or when the
input stimuli is incomplete.

References:

1. Bechtel, W., & Abrahamsen, A. (1991). Connectionism and the mind: An introduction to parallel
processing in networks. Cambridge, MA: Blackwell.

See Also:
Content Addressable Memory | Functional Architecture | Parallel Distributed Processing Models |
Spontaneous Generalisation | Symbolic Architecture

Contributed by J. Andrews

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Hebbian Learning Rule)

Hebbian Learning Rule

The Hebbian Learning Rule is a learning rule that specifies how much the weight of the connection
between two units should be increased or decreased in proportion to the product of their activation. The
rule builds on Hebbs's 1949 learning rule which states that the connections between two neurons might
be strengthened if the neurons fire simultaneously. The Hebbian Rule works well as long as all the input
patterns are orthogonal or uncorrelated. The requirement of orthogonality places serious limitations on
the Hebbian Learning Rule. A more powerful learning rule is the delta rule, which utilizes the
discrepancy between the desired and actual output of each output unit to change the weights feeding into
it.

References:

1. Bechtel, W., & Abrahamsen, A. (1993). Connectionism and the mind: An introduction to parallel
processing in networks. Oxford, UK: Blackwell.
2. Hebb, D.O. (1949). The organization of behavior. New York: Wiley.
3. Rumelhart, D.E., & McClelland, J. L.(1986). Parallel distributed processing: Explorations in the
microstructure of cognition, vol. 1: Foundations. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

See Also:
Learning Rule

Contributed by Bonnie M. French

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Humor)

Humor

There are many reasons why people find something humorous, which are reflected in the large number of
theories on the subject. Humor has been related to aggression, incongruity, and surprise. The cognitive
psychologist's interest in the subject is usually related to the notion that humor stems from a resolution of
incongruity.

For example, consider this joke by W.C. Field. "Do you believe in clubs for children?" "Only when
kindness fails". Schultz(1974) offered a three step theory of processing. In the first stage, the listener
notices the incorrect interpretation of the ambiguous element (clubs = social groups). In the second step,
the incorrect element of incongruity is processed ( "only when kindness fails"). In the final stage the
hidden meaning of the ambiguous element is perceived (clubs = sticks). The incongruity resolution
theory explains the fact that a joke previously encountered will seem less funny on subsequent exposure.

Similarly, Freud (1905, in Minsky 1985) suggested that humorous stories are a way of fooling our
internal censors. A joke's power comes from a description that fits two different frames at once. The first
meaning must be transparent and innocent, while the second meaning is disguised and reprehensible.

Although most cognitive psychologists have not extended their theorizing to humor, it does have an
important cognitive aspect. In particular, cognitive theory helps provide an explanation of why verbal
jokes are found amusing by looking at the comprehension processes involved.

References:

1. Kristal, L. (Ed.). (1981). ABC of psychology. London: Multimedia Publications.


2. Minsky, M. (1985). The society of mind. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster.
3. Schultz, T.R. (1974). Order and processing in humor appreciation. Canadian Journal of
Psychology, 28, 409-420.

Contributed by L.A. Keple

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The Imagery Debate

Imagery Debate

The imagery debate centres around the problem of what can be viewed as the primitives of cognition.
Primitives serve as the foundation of the algorithmic level of the computational hierarchy. Presumably, it
is these primitives which are implemented in the physical substrate of the brain.

The central question related to the imagery debate then is: Do images form the basis of all our higher
cognition? If not, what does? Could propositions serve that function? Or both images and propositions?
Or something altogether different?

Kosslyn, S. M., Pinker, S., Smith, G., & Shwartz, S. P. (1979). On the demystification of mental
imagery. The Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 2, 535-581.
Pylyshyn, Z. W. (1981). The imagery debate: Analogue media versus tacit knowledge. Psychological
Review, 88, 16-45.
Anderson, J. R. (1978). Arguments concerning representations for mental imagery. Psychological
Review, 85, 249-277.

Contributed by C. P. Watling, March 12, 1996.

Dictionary Home Page

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Incidental Learning Paradigm)

Incidental Learning Paradigm

The incidental learning paradigm is an experimental paradigm used to investigate learning without intent.
Using this paradigm, several groups of subjects are presented with the same list of items (e.g., 20 words)
and are instructed to process them in different ways (different orienting conditions), with each group
asked to perform a different activity or orienting task with the list. For example,

● count the number of letters in each word (shallow processing)


● name a rhyming word for each item (again, shallow processing, but deeper than #1
● form an image of each word and rate the vividness of each image (deep processing).

Importantly, subjects are not told that there will be a subsequent test of memory. At the end of the list
presentation, subjects are unexpectedly asked to recall as many of the words as possible. Processing
information at a deeper level results in superior recall of that information (Eysenck, 1974).

References:

1. Eysenck, M.W. (1974). Age differences in incidental learning. Developmental Psychology, 10,
936-941.

See Also:
Levels of Processing

Contributed by Bonnie M. French

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Induction Learning)

Induction Learning

Inductive learning is essentially learning by example. The process itself ideally implies some method for
drawing conclusions about previously unseen examples once learning is complete. More formally, one
might state: Given a set of training examples, develop a hypothesis that is as consistent as possible with
the provided data [1]. It is worthy of note that this is an imperfect technique. As Chalmers points out, "an
inductive inference with true premises [can] lead to false conclusions" [2]. The example set may be an
incomplete representation of the true population, or correct but inappropriate rules may be derived which
apply only to the example set.

A simple demonstration of this type of learning is to consider the following set of bit-strings (each digit
can only take on the value 0 or 1), each noted as either a positive or negative example of some concept.
The task is to infer from this data (or "induce") a rule to account for the given classification:

- 1000101 - 1110100 + 0101


+ 1111 + 10010 + 1100110
- 100 + 111111 - 00010
- 1 - 1101 + 101101
+ 1010011 - 11111 - 001011

A rule one could induce from this data is that strings with an even number of 1's are "+", those with an
odd number of 1's are "-". Note that this rule would indeed allow us to classify previously unseen strings
(i.e. 1001 is "+").

Techniques for modeling the inductive learning process include: Quinlan's decision trees (results from
information theory are used to partition data based on maximizing "information content" of a given sub-
classification) [3], connectionism (most neural network models rely on training techniques that seek to
infer a relationship from examples) and decision list techniques [4], among others.

References

1. Adapted from lectures in a graduate course in representation & reasoning given by Dr. Peter van
Beek, Department of Computing Science, University of Alberta.
2. A.F. Chalmers. What is this thing called science?. University of Queensland Press, Australia,
1976.
3. J.R. Quinlan. C4.5: Programs for Machine Learning. Morgan Kaufmann, San Mateo, 1993.

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Induction Learning)

4. R.L. Rivest. Learning decision lists. Machine Learning. 2(3):229-246, 1987.

See Also
Connectionism| Inductive Inference| Learning Rule| Machine Learning

Contributed by David B. McCaughan

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Inductive Inference)

Inductive (Pragmatic) Inference

Inferences are made when a person (or machine) goes beyond available evidence to form a conclusion.
An inductive inference is one which is likely to be true because of the state of the world. Unlike
deductive inferences, inductive inferences do yield consclusions that increase the semantic information
over and above that found in the initial premises.

However, in the case of inductive inferences, we cannot be sure that our conclusion is a logical result of
the premises, but we may be able to assign a likelihood to each conclusion.

Similar to deductive inference, induction can be broken down into three stages. The first stage is to
understand the observation or stated information. The second is to form a hypothesis that attempts to
describe the above information in relation to t person's general knowledge. The resulting conclusion goes
beyond initial information by incorporating one's general knowledge in the result. The third step is to
evaluate the validity of the conclusion that was reached.

References:

1. Eysenck, M.W. (Ed.). (1990). The Blackwell dictionary of cognitive psychology. Cambridge, MA:
Basil Blackwell.
2. Johnson-Laird, P. N. (1993). Human and machine thinking. Hillsdale, NJ : Lawrence Erlbaum
Associates.

See Also:
Deductive Inference

Contributed by Valerie Trifts

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Intension

Intension

What a term means has two components: i) the referent of the term--this is 'class' talk, and is the
component of meaning to which 'extension' applies; and ii) the sense of the term, i.e., all of the
psychological associations that one has with that term--this is 'concept' talk. This second sense is referred
to as the 'intension' of the term.

Examples of the two components follow. The referent of the term 'cat' is all the cats; the sense of the term
is related to your experience of cats, their history, their attributes, etc. A classic example is 'the morning
star' and 'the evening star'; both of which refer to the same thing, the planet 'Venus', but the sense of
'morning star' and 'evening star' is not the same. You cannot change the terms in a statement including
one of them and retain the same truth value.

Other words sometimes used to pick out the distinctions between 'extension' and 'intension' are
'denotation' and 'connotation', respectively. Note the following definition by Cohen and Nagel:

A term [an element of a proposition] may be viewed in two ways, either as a class of
objects (which may have only one member), or as a set of attributes or characteristics
which determine the objects. The first phase or aspect is called the denotation or extension
of the term, while the second is called the connotation or intension. The extension of the
term 'philosopher' is 'Socrates', 'Plato', 'Thales', and the like; its intension is 'lover of
wisdom', 'intelligent', and so on. (31)

The distinctions in the meaning of a term are important to clarify. Without such distinctions, no
discussion of meaning in general can begin. If we wish to construct models and theories of human
language and thought--and here talk of meaning necessarily enters--we need to make precise those issues
and problems we specifically want to address.

Cohen, M. R. and Nagel, E. (1993). An Introduction to Logic. Indianapolis, Indiana: Hackett


Publishing Company.

See Also:
Extension

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Intension

Contributed by C. P. Watling, February 27, 1996.

Dictionary Home Page

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Intention

Intention

Intentionality refers to "aboutness." Beings having intentionality have propositional attitudes, they have
beliefs, knowledge, hopes, dreams, desires, etc. about things. Whenever we come across "that" in an
utterance or piece of writing, we know that we are dealing with something intentional. (Notice the
intentionality of the preceding statement.) If we hear someone say "ouch," "oops," "hey," etc., these
expressions do not reveal what sets humans apart from the rest of the animals. Intentionality does; it is
considered by most to be a singularly human feature.

This issue is important to the extent that any theory of consciousness, or mind, must answer as to how
intentionality is possible.

'Intentional' is not to be confused with 'intensional' spelled with an 's', the latter of which refers to the
meaning of a term, (along with 'extensional'). Intentional, intensional, and extensional can be paired
loosely in the following way: intentional/propositional, intensional/conceptual, and
extensional/perceptual.

See Also:
Intension | Extension

Contributed by C. P. Watling, February 27, 1996.

Dictionary Home Page

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Intentional Stance)

The Intentional Stance

An intentional stance refers to the treating of a system as if it has intentions, irrespective of whether it
does. By treating a system as if it is a rational agent one is able to predict the system's behaviour. First,
one ascribes beliefs to the system as those the system ought to have given its abilities, history and
context. Then one attributes desires to the system as those teh system ought to have given its survival
needs and means of fulfilling them. One can then predict the systems behaviour as that a rational system
would undertake to further its goals given its beliefs. Dennett argues for three main reasons for taking an
intentional stance. First, it fits well with our understandings of the processes of natural selection and
evolution in complex environments. Second, it has been shown to be an accurate method of predicting
behaviour. Third, it is consistent with our folk psychology of behaviour.

References:

1. Dennett, D.C. (1987). The Intentional Stance Cambridge MA, MIT Press

See Also:

Contributed by J.P. Andrews

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Intermediate State Evidence)

Intermediate State Evidence

One of the key goals of cognitive science is to develop theories that are strongly equivalent with respect
to to-be-explained systems. This requires that evidence be collected to defend the claim that the model
and the to-be-explained system are carrying out the same procedures to compute a function.

One type of evidence that can be used to support this claim is intermediate state evidence. This involves
observations of the intermediate steps, and/or the intermediate states of knowledge, that the two systems
pass through as they move from being given a problem to providing an answer.

For example, if one was using a Turing machine as a model, then an immediate source of intermediate
state evidence would be what the machine does to its tape with each processing step.

In studying human subjects, intermediate state evidence is not directly available. However, one method
that might provide some evidence about these intermediate states is protocol analysis.

References:

1. Pylyshyn, Z.W. (1984). Computation and cognition. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

See Also:
Protocol Analysis | Strong Equivalence

Contributed by M.R.W. Dawson

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Intrusion Errors)

Intrusion Errors

In a recall portion of a memory task, these are errors that occur when the subject includes items that were
not on the original list.

See Also:
Cued Recall | Free Recall

Contributed by M. Kincade

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Learning Rule)

Learning Rule

Learning rules, for a connectionist system, are algorithms or equations which govern changes in the
weights of the connections in a network. One of the simplest learning procedures for two- layer networks
is the Hebbian Learning Rule, which is based on a rule initially proposed by Hebb in 1949. Hebb's rule
states that the simultaneous excitation of two neuron results in a strengthening of the connections
between them. More powerful learning rules are learning rules which incorporate an error reduction
procedure or error correction procedure (e.g., delta rule, generalized delta rule, back propagation).
Learning rules incorporating an error reduction procedure utilize the discrepancy between the desired
output pattern and an actual output pattern to change (improve) its weights during training. The learning
rule is typically applied repeatedly to the same set of training inputs across a large number of epochs or
training loops with error gradually reduced across epochs as the weights are fine-tuned.

References:

1. Bechtel, W., & Abrahamsen, A. (1993). Connectionism and the mind: An introduction to parallel
processing in networks. Oxford, UK: Blackwell.
2. Hebb, D.O. (1949). The organization of behavior. New York: Wiley.
3. Rumelhart, D.E., & McClelland, J. L.(1986). Parallel distributed processing: Explorations in the
microstructure of cognition, vol. 1: Foundations. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

See Also:
Hebbian Learning Rule | Parallel Distributed Processing Models

Contributed by Bonnie M. French

Dictionary Home Page | Letter Index | Search Index

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Levels of Processing)

Levels of Processing

Levels of Processing - an influential theory of memory proposed by Craik and Lockhart (1972) which
rejected the idea of the dual store model of memory. This popular model postulated that characteristics of
a memory are determined by it's "location" (ie, fragile memory trace in short term store [STS] and a more
durable memory trace in the long term store [LTS]. Instead, Craik and Lockhart proposed that
information could be processed in a number of different ways and the durability or strength of the
memory trace was a direct function of the depth of processing involved. Moreover, depth of processing
was postulated to fall on a shallow to deep continuum.

Shallow processing (e.g., processing words based on their phonemic and orthographic components) leads
to a fragile memory trace that is susceptible to rapid forgetting. On the other had, deep processing (e.g.,
semantic or meaning based processing) results in a more durable memory trace.

A typical paradigm employed to investigate the Levels of Processing theory is the incidental learning
paradigm. Results reveal superior recall for items processed deeply compared to those items processed at
the more shallow level (Eysenck, 1974: Hyde & Jenkins, 1969).

Craik and Lockhart also distinguished between two kinds of rehearsal, maintenance and elaborative
rehearsal. Of the two, elaborative rehearsal is the most effective in producing a more durable memory
trace.

References:

1. Craik, F.I.M., & Lockhart, R.S. (1972). Levels of processing. A framework for memory research.
Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behaviour, 11, 671-684.
2. Eysenck, M.W. (1974). Age differences in incidental learning. Developmental Psychology, 10,
936-941.
3. Hyde, T.S., & Jenkins, J.J. (1969). Differential effects of incidental tasks on the organization of
recall of a list of highly associated words. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 82, 472-481.

See Also:
Elaborative Rehearsal | Incidental Learning Paradigm | Maintenance Rehearsal

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Levels of Processing)

Contributed by Bonnie M. French

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Linguistic Determination)

Linguistic Determination

Linguistic determination is the argument that language directly effects that way that people think about
and see the world. Linguistic determination is also known as the Whorfian hypothesis or the Sapir-Whorf
hypothesis (Sapir, 1968; Whorf, 1956). Whorf provides the example of the Eskimo words for snow. The
Eskimo people are inhabitants of the Arctic. Whereas in the English language there is only one word for
snow the Eskimo language has many words for snow. Whorf argues that this language for snow allows
the Eskimo people to "see" snow differently than speakers of other languages who do not have as many
words for snow. That is, Eskimo people see subtle differences in snow that other people do not.

Researchers have studied color perception across different linguistic groups to find support for the
Whorfian hypothesis (Berlin & Kay, 1969; Heider, 1972; Heider & Oliver, 1973; Miller & Johnson-
Laird, 1976; Rosch, 1974). The evidence indicates that people of all cultures perceive colour in the same
way. The tentative conclusion is that language does not determine the way that people think. It is
possible that language, whiule not determining the way that people think may influence the way that
people think. Exactly how language might influence thought is yet unclear.

Contributed by J.N. Stepnisky

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Long-Term Potentiation)

Long-Term Potentiation

The enduring facilitation of synaptic transmission that


occurs following the activation of a synapse by high-frequency
stimulation of the presynaptic neuron. (Pinel, 1993, p.515)

Long-Term Potentiation (LTP) was originally discovered in Aplysia. Recently, however, LTP has also
been found to occur in the mammalian nervous system, specifically the hippocampus. This is an
extremely important finding as it suggests that LTP could be the cellular basis of the neural
implementation of learning and memory, especially when combined with the fact that the hippocampus is
believed to be one of the major brain regions responsible for processing memories.

LTP is one of the first examples of a mechanisms for neural implementation of a cognitive function.

References:

1. Pinel, J. (1993). Biopsychology (2nd ed.). Toronto: Allyn & Bacon.

See Also:
Cognitive Science | Neuron

Contributed by M. Kincade

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Machine Learning)

Machine Learning

The acquisition and application of knowledge plays a central role in describing learning. For the most
part, human beings perform this task quite well (for better or worse). It is under the banner of machine
learning that researchers, particularly within artificial intelligence, attempt to develop methods for
accomplishing this task algorithmically (i.e. on computers).

Dietterich differentiates between three types of learning a system can exhibit [1]:

● Speed-up learning occurs when a system becomes more efficient at a task over time without
external input.
● Learning by being told occurs when a system acquires new knowledge explicitly from an
external source.
● Inductive learning occurs when a system acquires new knowledge that was neither explicitly nor
implicitly available previously.

In order to evaluate the success (or failure) of machine learning techniques, it will be important to define
what is meant by "learning". Dietterich suggests that by defining "knowledge", we can simplify the
specification of "learning" by defining it to be an increase in this "knowledge" [1]. It is debatable
whether this makes the task any easier. A formalism often employed to judge the effectiveness of a
learning system is Valiant's definition of what it means for a system to be probably approximately
correct [2]: the system should, with high probability, exhibit knowledge that is largely in agreement with
the "true" information (i.e. approximately correct).

A problem endemic to most machine learning techniques is a lack of generality. For example, a particular
algorithm may perform well on discrete data, whereas application to continuous data is difficult. These
issues are invariably task specific---most learning formalisms handle some subset of tasks extremely well
while performance on others is substandard. Major performance issues often revolve around the ability of
a given system to generalize what it has learned to novel circumstances.

References

1. T.G. Dietterich. Machine learning. Annual Review of Computer Science. Vol. 4, Spring 1990.
2. L.G. Valient. A theory of the learnable. Communications of the ACM. 27:1134-1142, 1984.

See Also
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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Machine Learning)

Artificial Intelligence| Induction Learning| Learning Rule

Contributed by David B. McCaughan

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Maintenance Rehearsal)

Maintenance Rehearsal

Maintenance rehearsal is a type of rehearsal proposed by Craik and Lockhart (1972) in their Levels of
Processing Model of memory. Maintenance rehearsal involves rote repetition of an item's auditory
representation. In contrast to elaborative rehearsal, this type of rehearsal does not lead to stronger or
more durable memories.

References:

1. Craik, F.I.M., & Lockhart, R.S. (1972). Levels of processing. A framework for memory research.
Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behaviour, 11, 671-684.

See Also:
Elaborative Rehearsal | Levels of Processing

Contributed by Bonnie M. French

Dictionary Home Page | Letter Index | Search Index

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Mandelbrot Set)

Mandelbrot Set

A Mandelbrot set is an intricate geometric shape, where if any region of the set is magnified, new and
intricate details appear. Every time you focus further on one section, more detail shows up. This will
continue ad infinitum, as you investigate further. It was originally postulated to help explain fractals.

Another way of looking at this is as follows. When "simple" laws govern systems with large numbers of
variables, the underlying order may become obscured by our inability to track every component. Simple
rules can produce incredibly complex effects. Mandelbrot sets relate philosophically to the study of
cognitive science, in that some theories in the field may need to be more complex in order to be fully
validated, while other topics may be simpler than they first appear. This seems to be the case in the study
of groups of agencies and agents in Minsky's (1985) The Society of Mind.

References:

1. Cohen J., & Stewart, I. (1994). The collapse of chaos. New York: Viking Press.
2. Minsky, M. (1985). The society of mind. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster.

See Also:
Consciousness

Contributed by L.A. Keple

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Memory Span)

Memory Span

Memory span refers to the number of items (usually words or digits) that a person can hold in working
memory. Tests of memory span are often used to measure working memory capacity. A typical test of
memory span involves having an examiner read a list of random digits (digit span) or words (word span)
aloud at the rate of one per second. At the end of a sequence, subjects are asked to recall the items in
order. The average span for normal adults is 7 (Miller, 1956).

References:

1. Miller, G.A. (1956). The magical number seven plus or minus two. Some limits on our capacity
for processing information. Psychological Review, 63, 81-97.

See Also:
Working Memory

Contributed by Bonnie M. French

Dictionary Home Page | Letter Index | Search Index

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Metaphor)

Metaphor
Metaphor is the use of a word or phrase to label an object or concept that it does not literally denote,
suggesting a comparison of that concept to the phrase's denoted object. There are many nuances in the
meanings of metaphors. Mark Johnson and George Lakoff discuss preconceptual elemants (which
include: general human purposes, cultural instistuions and practices, theoretical paradigms, individual
traits and values, and personality traits). They claim that it is only because of these preconceptions that
metaphor is able to affect our thinking, emotions and language. Earl Mac Cormac writes that the way in
which we explain things influences how we understand them. While this relationship may initially appear
backwards, the circularity can easily be withdrawn when one realizes that after the original clumsy
description is given, we sstart trying to make the thing we are describing fit the model, which is only
eliminated if it does not fit.

Contributed by Devon Bryce.

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Misrepresentation)

Misrepresentation

A Representation represents, or is about, a certain object or state of affairs (the representation9s object)
and says something about that object (the representation9s content). Misrepresentation happens when
what that content says about the object isn9t true of the object. For instance my cow representation has a
certain content; suppose that this content is something like that9s a four-legged mammal that gives milk,
goes 3moo2, and eats grass. Anything this representation 3is about2 will be represented as something
that description applies to. So if my cow representation is activated by--and thus refers to--a short fat
muddy horse seen from a distance, that horse is misrepresented, because it9s represented as a four-legged
mammal that gives milk, goes 3moo2, and eats grass, which is false of the horse.

Theories of content, which attempt to explain how representations correctly represent their objects have a
tremendous amount of trouble explaining how they can also sometimes misrepresent their objects. Jerry
Fodor9s (1990) disjunction problem points out the difficulty here. A representation9s content can9t be
such that the representation represents whatever causes its activation. A representation with content
construed in this way can9t misrepresent.

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Modularity)

Modularity

Jerry Fodor (1983) is the strongest proponent of a modular theory of cognition. Fodor argues that certain
psychological processes are self contained--or modular. This is in contrast to "New look" or Modern
Cognitivist positions which hold that nearly all psychological processes are interconnected, and freely
exchange information.

Fodor proposes a three tiered cognitive system. The first level of the system, the transducer level,
transforms environmental signals into a form that can be used by the cognizing organism. The second
level, the input systems level, performs basic recognition and description functions. In Fodor's model
input systems are modular. The third level of the system, higher level cognitive functions, performs
complex operations on the output of the input systems. An example of a higher level process is analogous
thinking.

Fodor holds that input systems are modular and that higher level cognitive processes are nonmodular.
This means that all of the information necessary for performing their tasks of recognition and description
is contained within the input systems. For example, object perception might be modular, in which case
the object perception module need not reference language modules, or music modules, or mathematics
modules in order to perform its operations. In contrast, higher level processes have access to all
information contained within the cognitive system when performing a given operation. Fodor provides
the example of scientific reasoning (a higher level cognitive process). Potentially, when solving a
scientific problem, the scientist can reference any knowledge that he or she has about the world to help in
solving this problem. As such, if necessary, knowledge about botany can be referenced in order to
understand problems in mathematics.

Modular systems have the following properties:

1. They are domain specific--they operate on, and have a computational architecture that is unique to
certain stimuli.
2. Their operation is mandatory, or they are cognitively impenetrable--beliefs cannot affect the
operations of modules, we cannot help seeing, or hearing the world in a certain way.
3. Modules are fast--modular processes are among the fastest psychological processes,this is because
modules are self-contained and need not spend time referencing information outside of the
module to complete their tasks.
4. Modules are informationally encapsulated--they need not reference any other psycholgical
systems in order to perform their operations.
5. Modules have shallow outputs--the output of modules is very basic, more complex representations
follow after higher level computation.

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Modularity)

References:

1. Fodor, J.A. (1983). The modularity of mind. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
2. Fodor, J.A. (1985). Precis on The Modularity of Mind. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 8, 1-42.

See Also:
Analogy

Contributed by Jeff Stepnisky

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Neurocognition)

Neurocognition

The study of the relationships between neuroscience and cognitive psychology.

The goal is to look for specific neurophysiological correlates of cognitive functions. This is based on the
assumption that specific brain regions are responsible for mediating certain aspects of cognitive function.

References:

1. Pinel, J. (1993). Biopsychology (2nd ed.). Toronton: Allyn & Bacon.

See Also:
Cognitive Science | Neuroscience

Contributed by M. Kincade

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Neuron)

Neuron

These are the specialized, functional cells of the nervous system that conduct neural information.

There were originally 2 basic hypotheses about the structure and function of the nervous system (Kolb &
Whishaw, 1985, p.317):

1. Neuron Hypothesis: the nervous system is composed of discrete, autonomous cells, or units, that
can interact but are not physically connected.
2. Nerve Net Hypothesis: the nervous system is composed of a continuous network of
interconnected fibres.

The current understanding of cognition in the brain represents a combination of these hypotheses.
Cognition is viewed as occuring by the interaction between neurons through complex excitatory and
inhibitory synapses.

As such, cognitive scientists should recognize the need to incorporate basic properties of neurons, and
neural organization in the development of models of cognition.

The parallel distributed processing model, is a good example of a model that has attempted to account for
the basic neural properties.

References:

1. Kolb, B., & Whishaw, I. (1985). Fundamentals of human neuropsychology (2nd ed.). New York:
W.H. Freeman & Co.
2. Pinel, J. (1993). Biopsychology (2nd ed.). Toronto: Allyn & Bacon.

See Also:
Cognitive Science | Neuroscience | Parallel Distributed Processing Models

Contributed by M. Kincade

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Neuron)

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Neuroscience)

Neuroscience

Neuroscience is the study of the nervous system and has many different branches, such as:

● Biopsychology,
● Developmental Neurobiology,
● Neuroanatomy,
● Neurochemistry,
● Neuroendocrinology,
● Neuroethology,
● Neuropharmacology,
● Neurophysiology, and
● Neuropsychology.

In cognitive science, it is very important to recognize the importance of neuroscience in contributing to


our knowledge of human cognition. Cognitive scientists must have, at the very least, a basic
understanding of, and appreciation for, neuroscientific principles. In order to develop accurate models,
the basic neurophysiological and neuroanatomical properties must be taken into account.

See Also:
Cognitive Science | Neuron

Contributed by M. Kincade

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Occam's Razor)

Occam's Razor

The simplest definition of Occam's Razor is "Don't make unnecessarily complicated assumptions". It can
be used as a philosophical way of sorting the simple theories from the complicated ones. When scientists
select theories, they don't just use the criterion of agreement or disagreement with observations. They
also have aesthetic principles, and a desire for an elegant, universal theory. They use these aesthetic
principles to remove the cloud of trivially competing theories that necessarily surround every theory.
Occam's razor is a working rule of thumb, not the ultimate answer.

References:

1. Cohen J., & Stewart, I. (1994). The collapse of chaos. New York: Viking Press.

Contributed by L.A. Keple

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Paradigm)

Paradigm

The Oxford English Dictionary defines a paradigm simply as an "example or pattern". Within the
scientific community however, the notion of paradigm is a far more significant issue. It typically defines
what a given individual is willing to accept of his or her field, and how they perform their own work
within it---whether they are conscious of it or not. It is here in fact that the more formal concept of a
paradigm is realized.

Chalmers [2], in a discussion of Kuhn's writings about what constitutes a shift in paradigm [3], loosely
characterizes it as a framework of beliefs and standard which defines legitimate work within the science
for which it applies. He states further that defining "paradigm" rigorously is inherently problematic. He
does however offer some suggestions for what, at least in part, characterizes a paradigm; although
worded with science in mind, some of these can be seen to apply to the concept of a paradigm in general.

A paradigm (from Chalmers [2]):

● is composed of "explicitly stated laws and theoretical assumptions".


● includes "standard ways of applying the fundamental laws to a variety of types of situations".
● possess "instrumentation and instrumental techniques necessary for bringing the laws of the
paradigm to bear on the real world".
● "consists of some very general, metaphysical principles that guide work within the paradigm".
● "contains some very general methodological prescriptions".

Much animated debate occurs regarding what constitutes a shift of paradigm, and what does not. Kuhn
writes that in the face of a scientific revolution, the "new" world-view is virtually incompatible with that
which it replaced [3]. Bohm and Peat characterize this interpretation as overly restrictive [1]. They
suggest that it introduces significant fragmentation within the growth process of the scientific endeavour.
I interpret this as a more reasoned attitude, as there is more potential for benefit than harm in the co-
existence of (even contradictory) paradigms. I would argue in fact that this is more the norm than Kuhn
seemed to feel was the case.

References

1. D. Bohm and F.D. Peat. Science, Order, and Creativity. Bantam Books, New York, 1987.
2. A.F. Chalmers. What is this thing called science?. University of Queensland Press, Australia,
1976.
3. T.S. Kuhn. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1970.

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Paradigm)

Contributed by David B. McCaughan

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Parallel Distributed Processing Models)

Parallel Distributed Processing Models

Parallel Distributed Processing (PDP) models are a class of neurally inspired information processing
models that attempt to model information processing the way it actually takes place in the brain.

This model was developed because of findings that a system of neural connections appeared to be
distributed in a parallel array in addition to serial pathways. As such, different types of mental processing
are considered to be distributed throughout a highly complex neuronetwork.

The PDP model has 3 basic principles:

1. the representation of information is distributed (not local)


2. memory and knowledge for specific things are not stored explicitly, but stored in the connections
between units.
3. learning can occur with gradual changes in connection strength by experience.

These models assume that information processing takes place


through interactions of large numbers of simple processing
elementscalled units, each sending excitatory and inhibitory
signals to other units. (Rumelhart, Hinton, & McClelland, 1986, p. 10)

Rumelhart, Hinton, and McClelland (1986) state that there are 8 major components of the PDP model
framework:

1. a set of processing units


2. a state of activation
3. an output function for each unit
4. a pattern of connectivity among units
5. a propagation rule for propagating patterns of activities through the network of connectivities
6. an activation rule for combining the inputs impinging on a unit with the current state of that unit to
produce a new level of activation for the unit
7. a learning rule whereby patterns of connectivity are modified by experience
8. an environment within which the system must operate

References:

1. Rumelhart, D.E., Hinton, G.E., & McClelland, J.L. (1986). A general framework for parallel
distributed processing. In D. E. Rumelhart, J. L. McClelland, and the PDP Research Group (Eds.).
Parallel distributed processing: Explorations in the microstructure of cognition. Vol. 1:

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Parallel Distributed Processing Models)

Foundations. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

See Also:
Learning Rule | Neuron

Contributed by M. Kincade

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Parallel Search)

Parallel Search

see Serial Search

Contributed by J.N. Stepnisky

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Perseveration Errors)

Perseveration Errors

On a recall portion of a memory task, these are errors that occur when a subject repeats items that they
have already said on that same recall trial.

See Also:
Cued Recall | Free Recall | Intrusion Errors

Contributed by M. Kincade

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Philosophy of Mind

Philosophy of Mind

The philosophy of mind has emerged as a field of philosophy in its own right, due to the convergence of
issues raised in more traditional areas of philosophy, such as metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics.

Some questions asked by philosophers of mind reveal these origins. One might ask: Are mind and body
one substance?; Does mind depend on the body?; Is 'mind' identical with 'body'? These questions may
lead to others: Do humans actually make free choices, or are all human acts physically determined? As
well as physical states, we have mental states and many of the latter relate to each other. For example,
individuals have beliefs, desires, and feelings about other mental states, i.e., about concepts. When talk
turns to such intentional states or propositional attitudes, further questions arise. Do only humans have
intentionality? Must any account which attempts to explain our actions consider intentionality? Or can
physical events (brain and body processes in interraction with the physical environment) wholly explain
our actions?

Because of the nature of these questions, it becomes apparent why the philosophy of mind might cross
over into cognitive science. Cognitive science, after all, tries to answer many of these same questions.

See Also:
Intention

Contributed by C. P. Watling, February 27, 1996.

Dictionary Home Page

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Piaget's Stage Theory of Development)

Piaget's Stage Theory of Development

Piaget was among other things, a psychologist who was interested in cognitive development. After
observation of many children, he posited that children progress through 4 stages and that they all do so in
the same order. These four stages are described below.

The Sensorimotor Period (birth to 2 years)


During this time, Piaget said that a child's cognitive system is limited to motor reflexes at birth,
but the child builds on these reflexes to develop more sophisicated procedures. They learn to
generalize their activities to a wider range of situations and coordinate them into increasingly
lengthy chains of behaviour.
PreOperational Thought (2 to 6/7 years)
At this age, according to Piaget, children acquire representational skills in the areas mental
imagery, and especially language. They are very self-oriented, and have an egocentric view; that
is, preoperational chldren can use these representational skills only to view the world from their
own perspective.
Concrete Operations (6/7 to 11/12 years)
As opposed to Preoperational children, children in the concrete operations stage are able to take
another's point of view and take into account more than one perspective simultaneously. They can
also represent transformations as well as static situations. Although they can understand concrete
problems, Piaget would argue that they cannot yet perform on abstract problems, and that they do
not consider all of the logically possible outcomes.
Formal Operations (11/12 to adult)
Children who attain the formal operation stage are capable of thinking logically and abstractly.
They can also reason theoretically. Piaget considered this the ultimate stage of development, and
stated that although the children would still have to revise their knowledge base, their way of
thinking was as powerful as it would get.

It is now thought that not every child reaches the formal operation stage. Developmental psychologists
also debate whether children do go through the stages in the way that Piaget postulated. Whether Piaget
was correct or not, however, it is safe to say that this theory of cognitive development has had a
tremendous influence on all modern developmental psychologists.

References:

1. Santrock, J.W. (1995). Children. Dubuque, IA: Brown & Benchmark.


2. Siegler, R. (1991). Children's thinking. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
3. Vasta, R., Haith, M.M., & Miller, S.A. (1995). Child psychology: The modern science. New York,
NY: Wiley.

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Piaget's Stage Theory of Development)

See Also:
Adaptation | Cognitive Development | Equilibration | Generalization

Contributed by J. Sandwell

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Primacy Effect)

Primacy Effect

The primacy effect is found when the results of a free recall task are plotted in the form of a serial
position curve. Generally, this curve is U-shaped, and the primacy effect corresponds to the tail of the U
on the left. This tail indicates that words presented at the start of a list of to-be-remembered items are
better remembered than words presented in the middle of this list. It is called the primacy effect because
these items were the ones presented first to the subject in the memory experiment.

The primacy effect appears to be the result of subjects recalling items directly from a semantic memory.
This is because the primacy effect can be sharply attenuated by performing manipulations that adversely
affect this system -- such as using fast presentation of items (which does not permit much elaborative
rehearsal to transfer memories from short-term to long-term stores), or by using list items that have
similar meanings (and thereby producing semantic confusions).

The primacy effect was important to cognitive science because it provided empirical evidence for the
decomposition of memory into an organized set of subsystems, which is required by functional analysis.

See Also:
Free Recall | Recency Effect | Serial Position Curve

Contributed by M.R.W. Dawson

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Priming)

Priming

Priming is discussed in the context of the activation theory. It is assumed that concepts that have some
relation to each other are connected in some mental network, so that if one concept is activated, then
concepts related to it are also activated.

Priming is a phenomenon related to this concept. It can be shown in the following example:

A subject is shown the word nurse. Presumably the subject will then think of other words related to the
word nurse. If the subject is then shown either the word doctor or the word butter, the subject should be
able to read the former word more quickly than the latter word because doctor is related to nurse and
therefore has been recently accessed, and so more familiar to the subject.

The word nurse then serves to "prime" the second word, doctor.

Contributed by J. Sandwell

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Primitive)

Primitive

A primitive is a basic building block of a system. Complex systems can be decomposed into simpler
things, but primitives -- by definition -- cannot.

To provide an example that gives a nice intuition about what a primitive is, consider teaching a child the
meanings of different words. If a child asks us "What does `bachelor' mean?", we might break "bachelor"
down into other meanings ("`Bachelor' means that someone is a `man' who is `not married'"). However,
if a child asks us "What does `red' mean?", we are not likely to do this, because it is difficult to
decompose such a basic term. Instead, we are more likely to point to different things that are `red'. In this
sense, `red' represents something that we might call a semantic primitive (a basic meaning), while
`bachelor' does not.

Primitives are important in cognitive science because of its tendency to view information processors
functionally instead of physically. Because of this view, researchers use a methodology called functional
analysis to decompose a complex information processor into simpler, functional components. However,
if this decomposition is not stopped, the functional analysis goes on indefinitely and falls prey to Ryle's
Regress. This means that the functional analysis is not explanatory. Researchers try to escape Ryle's
regress by identifying a set of primitive functions which cannot be further decomposed. This set of
functions is the functional architecture for cognition.

See Also:
Functional Analysis | Functional Architecture | Ryle's Regress

Contributed by M.R.W. Dawson

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Production)

Production

A production systemis program that comprises a series of conditional statements that specify what action
is to be taken under certain circumstances. These 'If ... then ...' statements are known as productions.
Each production has a condition and an action. If the condition is found to be true by the system then the
action will be performed. For example, a production system for a thermostat may contain a production
such as the following.

1. temperature > 70 and temperature < 72 ----> stop

Information from the environment is compared to the conditions of the production. If the condition to the
left of the arrow is true then the process to the right of the arrow will be performed. In the above example
will the thermostat will stop as long as the temperature remains within the range of 70 and 72 degrees. If
the temperature is outside that range then a different production will be activated and the system will
change behaviour.

References:

1. Newell, A., & Simon, H.A. (1972). Human problem solving. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

See Also:
Production System

Contributed by J.P. Andrews

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Production System)

Production System

A production system is program that comprises a series of conditional statements that specify what action
is to be taken under certain circumstances. These 'If ... then ...' statements are known as productions. For
example, a production system for a cricket batsman may comprise a series of productions such as the
following.

1. ball outside offstump ------> no action


2. ball pitched on wicket and good length ------> forward defensive stroke
3. ball pitched short on leg side and fast------> duck
4. ball pitched short on leg side and slow------> hook

Information from the environment is matched against all productions and if the condition on the left of
the arrow is true then then action on the right will be performed. However, as systems become more
complex many productions may be triggered and the system will face a scheduling problem. The system
must contain a production that will determine which production of the many possible will be fired.
Common conflict scheduling productions are; order in the production system, specificity, refractoriness
and recency.

Production systems were one of the first attempts to model cognitive behaviour and form the basis of
many existing models of cognition.

References:

1. Newell, A., & Simon, H.A. (1972). Human problem solving. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

See Also:
productions

Contributed by J.P. Andrews

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Production System)

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Proposition)

Proposition

The proposition is a concept borrowed by cognitive psychologists from linguists and logicians. The
propostion is the most basic unit of meaning in a representation. It is the smallest statement that can be
judged either true or false. Anderson (1990) gives the following example of a setence divided up into its
constituent propositions:

"Nixon gave a beautiful Cadillac to Brezhnev, who was the leader of the USSR."

This sentence can be divided into three propositions:

1. Nixon gave a Cadillac to Brezhnev.


2. The Cadillac was beautiful.
3. Brezhnev was the leader of the USSR.

A popular view in cognitive psycyhology is that the mind is structured much like a language. In such a
structure, propositions function as basic units of representation--or the building blocks--of the mind. It is
the content of the propositions, the connections between propositions, and the strength of the connections
between propositions that determine the structure of mind.

References:

1. Anderson, J.R. (1990). Cognitive psychology and its implications (3rd ed.). New York: W. H.
Freeman.

Contributed by Jeff Stepnisky

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Protocol Analysis)

Protocol Analysis

Protocol analysis is one experimental method that can be used to gather intermediate state evidence
concerning the procedures used by a system to compute a function. In protocol analysis, subjects are
trained to think aloud as they solve a problem, and their verbal behaviour forms the basic data to be
analyzed. The first step of a protocol analysis is to obtain, and then transcribe, a verbal protocol. The next
step is to take the protocol and use it to infer the subject's problem space (i.e., infer the rules being used,
as well as various knowledge states concerning the problem). The third step is to create a problem
behaviour graph, which reflects state transitions as subjects search through the problem space in their
attempt to solve the problem. Finally, the problem behavior graph is used to create a computer simulation
(typically created as a production system) that will solve the problem. By comparing, in detail, the
behaviour of the simulation to the verbal protocol, one can validate the assumptions that led to the
program's creation. In turn, the program provides a rich description of an individual's processing steps,
and transitions in knowledge,during the problem-solving process.

References:

1. Ericsson, K.A., & Simon, H.A. (1984). Protocol analysis: Verbal reports as data. Cambridge,
MA: MIT Press.
2. Newell, A., & Simon, H.A. (1972). Human problem solving. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

See Also:
Intermediate State Evidence | Strong Equivalence

Contributed by M.R.W. Dawson

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Recency Effect)

Recency Effect

The recency effect is found when the results of a free recall task are plotted in the form of a serial
position curve. Generally, this curve is U-shaped, and the recency effect corresponds to the tail of the U
on the right. This tail indicates that words presented at the end of a list of to-be-remembered items are
better remembered than words presented in the middle of this list. It is called the recency effect because
these items were the ones presented most recently to the subject in the memory experiment.

The recency effect appears to be the result of subjects recalling items directly from the maintenance
rehearsal loop used to keep items in primary memory. In other words, it reflects short-term memory for
items. This is because the recency effect can be sharply attenuated by performing manipulations that
adversely affect such rehearsal -- such as delaying recall of list items with a distractor task, or by using
list items that have similar sounds.

The recency effect was important to cognitive science because it provided empirical evidence for the
decomposition of memory into an organized set of subsystems, which is required by functional analysis.

See Also:
Free Recall | Primacy Effect | Serial Position Curve

Contributed by M.R.W. Dawson

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Recognition Recall)

Recognition Recall

This is a variation of the recall portion of a memory task. The subject is not required to explicitly state
the items, but instead, they must simply identify which items (from a larger group of items) were on the
original list.

For instance, the subject may be read a large list of items and be asked to say "YES" if the item was on
the list, and say "NO" if it was not on the list.

This task is slightly easier than the cued or free recall task. The answers provided by the subject fall into
4 categories:

1. HITS: These are the responses that correctly identify items as being from the original list when
they actually are.
2. CORRECT NEGATIVES: These are the responses that correctly state an item as not being on
the original list when it actually was not.
3. MISSES: These are the responses that fail to identify a word as being from the original list when
it was.
4. FALSE POSITIVES: These are responses that incorrectly identify items as being from the
original list when they were not on that list.

See Also:
Cued Recall | Free Recall

Contributed by M. Kincade

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Recursive Decomposition)

Recursive Decomposition

Recursive decomposition (Palmer & Kimchi, 1986) refers to the process whereby any complex
informational event at one level of description can be specified more fully at a lower level of description
by decomposing the event into:

● a number of components and


● processes that specifiy the relations among these components

The information processing model of memory provides a good example of recursive decomposition.

Model of Memory

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Recursive Decomposition)

The research strategy, functional analysis, relies on the principle of recursive decomposition.

Recursive decomposition should not be equated with reductionism, which is based on the assumption
that the best of correct level of description is the most specific one (e.g., at the level of physics).

References:

1. Medin, D.L., & Ross, B.H. (1992). Cognitive psychology. Fort Worth, TX: Harcourt Brace
Jovanovich.
2. Palmer, S. & Kimchi, R. (1986). The information approach to cognition. In T. Knapp, & L.
Robertson (Eds.), Approaches to cognition. Hillsdale NJ: Erlbaum.

See Also:
Functional Analysis

Contributed by Bonnie M. French

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Relative Complexity Evidence)

Relative Complexity Evidence

One of the key goals of cognitive science is to develop theories that are strongly equivalent with respect
to to-be-explained systems. This requires that evidence be collected to defend the claim that the model
and the to-be-explained system are carrying out the same procedures to compute a function.

One type of evidence that can be used to defend this claim is called relative complexity evidence.
Imagine that someone is proposing that a Turing machine is a strongly equivalent model of how children
do mental arithmetic. To collect relative complexity evidence concerning this claim, we could present a
number of different addition problems to the Turing machine, and then rank order them in terms of the
number of processing steps that each problem required. We could then present the same problems to a
group of children, and rank order the difficulty they caused the children on the basis of reaction time
taken to solve the problems. If the two systems are strongly equivalent, then we would expect the same
rank-orderings to be obtained for both the Turing machine and the children. If they are not strongly
equivalent (as we would expect in this example), then differen rank-orderings would emerge because
different procedures are used to solve the problems.

References:

1. Pylyshyn, Z.W. (1984). Computation and cognition. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

See Also:
Intermediate State Evidence | Protocol Analysis | Strong Equivalence

Contributed by M.R.W. Dawson

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Retrieval)

Retrieval

Retrieval refers to the processess through which we recover items from memory.

See Also:
Working Memory

Contributed by Bonnie M. French

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Ryle's Regress)

Ryle's Regress

Ryle's Regress is a classic argument against cognitivist theories, and concludes that such theories cannot be
scientific. The philosopher Gilbert Ryle (1949) was concerned with critiquing what he called the intellectualist
legend, which required intelligent acts to be the product of the conscious application of mental rules. Ryle (p. 31)
argued that the intellectualist legend results in an infinite regress of thought:

According to the legend, whenever an agent does anything intelligently,


his act is preceded and steered by another internal act of considering a
regulative proposition appropriate to his practical problem. [...] Must we
then say that for the hero's reflections how to act to be intelligent he must
first reflect how best to reflect how to act? The endlessness of this implied
regress shows that the aplication of the appropriateness does not entail the
occurrence of a process of considering this criterion.

Variants of Ryle's Regress are commonly aimed at cognitivist theories. For instance, in order to explain the behavior
of rats, Edward Tolman (e.g., 1932, 1948) found that he had to use terms that modern cognitive scientists would be
very comfortable with. For instance, Tolman suggested that his rats were constructing a "cognitive map" that helped
them locate reinforcers, and he used intentional terms (e.g., expectancies, purposes, meanings) to describe their
behavior. This led to a famous attack on Tolman's work by Guthrie (1935, p. 172):

Signs, in Tolman's theory, occasion in the rat realization, or cognition,


or judgement, or hypotheses, or abstraction, but they do not occasion action.
In his concern with what goes on in the rat's mind, Tolman has neglected to
predict what the rat will do. So far as the theory is concerned the rate is
left buried in thought; if he gets to the food-box at the end that is his
concern, not the concern of the theory.

Cognitive scientists must be constantly aware of Ryle's Regress as a potential problem with their theories, and must
ensure that their theories include a principled account of how the (potentially) infinite regress that emerges from
functional analysis can be stopped. This is why the identification of the functional architecture is one of the
fundamental goals of cognitive science.

References:

1. Guthrie, E.R. (1935). The psychology of learning. New York: Harper


2. Ryle, G. (1949). The concept of mind. London: Hutchinson & Company.
3. Tolman, E.C. (1932). Purposive behavior in animals. New York: Century Books.
4. Tolman, E.C. (1948). Cognitive maps in rats and men. Psychological Review, 55, 189-208.

See Also:
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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Ryle's Regress)

Functional Analysis | Functional Architecture | Primitive

Contributed by M.R.W. Dawson

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis)

Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis

see Linguistic Determination

Contributed by J. Stepnisky

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Schema)

Schema

A schema representation is a way of capturing the insight that concepts are defined by a configuration of
features, and each of these features involves specifying a value the object has on some attribute. The
schema represents a concept by pairing a class of attribute with a particular value, and stringing all the
attributes together. They are a way of encoding regularities in categories, whether these regularities are
propositional or perceptual. They are also general, rather than specific, so that they can be used in many
situations.

References:

1. Anderson, J.R. (1990). Cognitive psychology and its implications. New York, NY: Freeman.

Contributed by J. Sandwell

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Semantics)

Semantics

Semantics deals with the relationship between representations and the world. Anything which can said to
be a representation--which could be said to stand for, represent, point to, indicate, mean, refer to, or in
some way be about something else--has semantic relations to that something else. Semantics is what
makes the word Coffee9 mean that smelly muddy brown hot liquid that people drink.

A representation's semantic properties are those properties the representation has in virtue of the sort of
relationship the representation has with a part of the world. So when we talk about what object (the thing
in the world) represents, or whether the representation is a true representation of its object or whether it's
a highly inaccurate representation of that object, or whether it misrepresents that object, we're talking
about the representation's semantic properties.

The problem is that if cognitive scientists define the essence of cognition as processes operating on
representations, then any process which operates on a representation has no access to that representation's
semantic properties. Fodor9s (1990) Formality Condition maintains that any process which operates on a
representation can only operate on the representation's nonsemantic or formal properties.

The idea, then, is that if a process which operates on a representation is to be sensitive to the semantic
properties of the representation, such as what object it represents, then that representation9s semantic
properties must somehow be mirrored in the representation's syntactic properties. So my cow
representation must be fairly complex, and somehow 3contain2 formal descriptions of all the properties I
ascribe to cows, so that processes which operate on this representation (such as those which allow me to
utter 3Cows give milk,2) can operate on those properties.

But whether the properties I ascribe to cows in such formal descriptions are true of cows is inaccessible
to those processes. Whether what I believe is true or not is a semantic property of that representation9s
relationship with the world. And semantic properties like truth are transparent to the processes that
operate on my representations. Perhaps the best we can hope is that the formal properties of all my
representations are consistent, and form a coherent network of beliefs that facilitate my acting
successfully in my environment. Whether these are true or not is inaccessible to the brain-processes which
operate on those representations. (Hence what Fodor (1980) calls 3Methodological Solipsism2)

References:

1. Fodor, J. (1980). 3Methodological Solipsism Considered as a Research Strategy in Cognitive


Psychology2. Behaviour and Brain Sciences, 3(1), 63-109.
2. Fodor, J. (1978). 3Tom Swift's Procedural Grand-mother2. Cognition, 6.

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Semantics)

(Both of these are reprinted in Fodor (1981).Representations, Brighton U.K.: The Harvester Press. pp204-
224 and pp225-256.)

See Also:
The Formality Condition | Misrepresentation | Representation

Contributed by Mason Cash

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Serial Position Curve)

Serial Position Curve

The serial position curve is used to plot the results of a free recall experiment. The x-axis of this curve
indicates the serial position of to-be-remembered items in the list (e.g., the first item, the second item, the
third item, and so on). The y-axis of this curve indicates the probability of recall for the item, which is
typically obtained by averaging across a number of subjects

The serial position curve is important to cognitive science because it revealed two effects, the recency
effect and the primacy effect, which were fundamentally important pieces of evidence for the functional
decomposition of "memory" into an organized set of subsystems.

See Also:
Free Recall | Primacy Effect | Recency Effect | Short Term Memory

Contributed by M.R.W. Dawson

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Serial Search)

Serial Search

A type of memory search in which information is retrieved one piece after another. Serial searches are
represented by a linear function. That is, when retrieval time is plotted against the number of items to be
retrieved the slope of the graph is constant, and is equivalent to the amount of time that it takes to
retrieve a single piece odf information.

Serial memory search is often contrasted with parallel memory search in which a number of pieces of
information are retrieved at the same time. Graphically, the slope of the line representing parallel search
is zero. That is, as the number of items to be retreived increases the amount of time that it takes to
retrieve these items remains constant.

Sternberg (1966, 1969a, 1969b, 1975) argued that retrievel from short term memory relies upon serial
type searches, whereas retrieval from long term memory relies upon parallel type searches.

See Also:
Short Term Memory

Contributed by J.N. Stepnisky

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Short Term Memory)

Short Term Memory

Generally cognitive psychologists divide memory into three stores: sensory store, short-term store, and
long-term store. After entering the sensory store, some information proceeds into the short-term store.
This short-term store is commonly refered to as short-term memory.

Short-term memory has two important characteristics. First, short-term memory can contain at any one
time seven, plus or minus two, "chunks" of informaton. Second, items remain in short-term memory
around twenty seconds. These unique characteristics, among others, suggested to researchers that short-
term memory was autonomous from sensory and long-term memory stores

Craik and Lockhart (1972) argued short-term memory was not autonomous from the other memory
systems. They suggested that short-term memory and long-term memory were different manifestations of
a single, underlying memory system.

As an alternative to short-term memory Baddely and Hitch have propsed the concept of a working
memory. As in traditional models of short-term memory, working memory is limited in the amount of
information that it can store, and the length of time that it can store information.

See Also:
Working Memory | Free Recall

Contributed by J.N. Stepnisky

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Spontaneous Generalization)

Spontaneous Generalization

Connectionist networks may be designed so that they can retrieve information from cues that are too
vague to match a particular memory and provide a generalized picture of what is common to the
memories that match the cues. Thus the network has the ability to generalize about classes of memories
as part of its architecture.

References:

1. Bechtel, W., & Abrahamsen, A. (1991). Connectionism and the mind: An introduction to parallel
processing in networks. Cambridge, MA: Blackwell.

See Also:
Content Addressable Memory | Functional Architecture | Graceful Degradation | Parallel Distributed
Processing Models | Symbolic Architecture

Contributed by J. Andrews

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Strong Equivalence)

Strong Equivalence

Strong equivalence is a stronger condition for model validation than is weak equivalence. If two systems
are strongly equivalent then

1. they compute the same function (i.e., they are weakly equivalent),
2. they use the same program to compute this function, and
3. this program is written in the same programming language (i.e., the two systems have the same
functional architecture).

As far as "algorithmic" approaches to cognitive science are concerned (e.g., experimental psychology,
psycholinguistics), the aim of the discipline is to generate strongly equivalent theories of people. This
requires collecting evidence to support the claim that a simulation uses the same procedures to solve a
problem as do human subjects, as well as evidence to support the claim that a proposed architecture is
primitive. It is not surprising, then, that the search for strongly equivalent theories is a formidable (but
necessary) challenge for cognitive scientists.

References:

1. Pylyshyn, Z.W. (1984). Computation and cognition. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

See Also:
Functional Architecture | Weak Equivalence

Contributed by M.R.W. Dawson

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Sustained Attention)

Sustained Attention

Sustained attention is "the ability to direct and focus cognitive activity on specific stimuli." In order to
complete any cognitively planned activity, any sequenced action, or any thought one must use sustained
attention. An example is the act of reading a newspaper article. One must be able to focus on the activity
of reading long enough to complete the task. Problems occur when a distraction arises. A distraction can
interrupt and consequently interfere in sustained attention.

DeGangi and Porges (1990) indicate there are 3 stages to sustained attention which include:

1. attention getting,
2. attention holding, and
3. attention releasing.

Sustained attention is important to psychologists because it is "a basic requirement for information
processing." Therefore, sustained attention is important for cognitive development. When a person has
difficulty sustaining attention, they often present with an accompanying inability to adapt to
environmental demands or modify behaviour (including inhibition of inappropriate behaviour).

References:

1. DeGangi, G., & Porges, S. (1990). Neuroscience foundations of human performance. Rockville,
MD: American Occupational Therapy Association.

See Also:
Attention Getting | Attention Holding | Attention Releasing

Contributed by Cassie Jacknicke

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Symbolic Architecture)

Symbolic Architecture

Symbolic architecture refers to the classical view of the architecture of the mind. In this approach the
mind is viewed as a process in which symbols are manipulated. Symbols are moved between memory
stores such as long term and short term memory and are acted upon by an explicit set of rules in a
particular sequence. The symbolic architecture is the manner in which memory stores are related and the
set of rules applied to the system.

The symbolic architecture approach has been widely applied and formed the basis of influential work
such as Newell & Simon's Human Problem Solving. More recently, this approach to cognitive
architecture has been challenged by the connectionist architecture approach.

References:

1. Collins, A. & Smith, E.E. (Eds.). (1988). Readings in cognitive science: A perspective from
psychology and artificial intelligence. San Mateo, CA: Morgan Kaufman.

See Also:
Functional Architecture

Contributed by J. Andrews

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Top-down Processing)

Top-down Processing

The cognitive system is organized hierarchically. The most basic perceptual systems are located at the
bottom of the hierarchy, and the most complex cogntive (e.g. memory, problem solving) systems are
located at the top of the hierarchy.

Information can flow both from the bottom of the system to the top of the system and from the top of the
system to the bottom of the system. When information flows from the top of the sytstem to the bottom of
the system this is called "top-down processing".

The implications of this top to bottom flow of information is that information coming into the system
(perceptually) can be influenced by what the individual already knows about the information that is
coming into the system (as information about past experiences are stored in the higher levels of the
system).

Extreme versions of top-down processing argue that all information coming into the system is affected
by what is already known about the world. An alternative version is offered by Jerry Fodor (1983). In his
theory of modularity, Fodor argues that top-down processing occurs only in some parts of the cognitive
system at certain times. Fodor rejects the idea that all stored information can potentially effect all
incoming information.

References:

1. Fodor, J.A. (1983). The modularity of mind. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

See Also:
Bottom-Up Processing | Modularity

Contributed by Jeff Stepnisky

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Turing Equivalence)

Turing Equivalence

Turing equivalence is another term for describing weak equivalence.

Contributed by M.R.W. Dawson

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Turing Test)

Turing Test

The Turing test is a behavioural approach to determining whether or not a system is intelligent. It was
originally proposed by mathematician Alan Turing, one of the founding figures in computing. Turing
argued in a 1950 paper that conversation was the key to judging intelligence. In the Turing test, a judge
has conversations (via teletype) with two systems, one human, the other a machine. The conversations
can be about anything, and proceed for a set period of time (e.g., an hour). If, at the end of this time, the
judge cannot distinguish the machine from the human on the basis of the conversation, then Turing
argued that we would have to say that the machine was intelligent.

There are a number of different views about the utility of the Turing test in cognitive science. Some
researchers argue that it is the benchmark test of what Searle calls strong AI, and as a result is crucial to
defining intelligence. Other researchers take the position that the Turing test is too weak to be useful in
this way, because many different systems can generate correct behaviours for incorrect (i.e.,
unintelligent) reasons. Famous examples of this are Weizenbaum's ELIZA program and Colby's PARRY
program. Indeed, the general acceptance of ELIZA as being "intelligent" so appalled Weizenbaum that
he withdrew from mainstream AI research, which he attacked in his landmark 1976 book.

References:

1. Colby, K.M. et al. (1972) Artificial paranoia. Artificial Intelligence, 2, 1-26.


2. Colby, K.M. et al. (1973) Turing-like undistinguishability tests for the validation of a computer
simulation of paranoid processes. Artificial Intelligence, 3, 47-51.
3. Turing, A.M. (1950). Computing machinery and intelligence. Mind, 59, 433-560.
4. Weizenbaum, J. (1976). Computer power and human reason. San Francisco, CA: W.H. Freeman.

See Also:
Turing Equivalence | Weak Equivalence

Contributed by M.R.W. Dawson

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Turing Test)

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Veridicality)

Veridicality

Veridicality is the extent to which a knowledge structure accurately reflects the information environment
it represents. This is a construct of interest as our understanding of the relationship between knowledge
structures and information environments is weak. In particular, the optimal level of veridicality is
problematic. The value of a knowledge structure lies in its ability to simplify an environment, yet
simplification increases the probability of a false characterisation and hence error. The study of
veridicality is concerned with investigating the consequences of this trade off between accuracy and
efficiency.

References:

1. Walsh, J.P., Henderson, C.M. & Deighton,J. (1988). Negotiated belief structures and decision
performance: An empirical investigationOrganizational Behavior and Human Decision
Processes. 42, 194-216

See Also:

Contributed by J.P. Andrews

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Visuospatial Perception)

Visuospatial Perception

This is one component of cognitive functioning and it refers to our ability to process and interpret visual
information about where objects are in space.

This is an important aspect of cognitive functioning because it is responsible for a wide range of
activities of daily living.

For instance, it underlies our ability to move around in an environment and orient ourselves
appropriately. Visuospatial perception is also involved in our ability to accurately reach for objects in our
visual field and our ability to shift our gaze to different points in space.

The association areas of the visual cortex are separated into two major component pathways, and are
believed to mediate different aspects of visual cognition. In humans, the parieto-occipital region is
believed to process visuospatial and visual motion types of information. Conversely, the inferotemporal
region of the brain is believed to mediate our ability to process visual information about the form and
color of objects.

References:

1. Kolb, B., & Whishaw, I. (1985). Fundamentals of human neuropsychology (2nd ed.). New York:
W.H. Freeman.
2. Pinel, J. (1993). Biopsychology (2nd ed.). Toronto: Allyn & Bacon.

See Also:
Apparent Motion

Contributed by M. Kincade

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Visuospatial Sketchpad)

Visuospatial Sketchpad

The visuospatial sketchpad or scratchpad (VSSP) is one of two passive slave systems in Baddeley's
(1986) model of working memory. The VSSP is responsible for the manipulation and temporary storage
of visual and spatial information. To date, more is known about the second slave system, the articulatory
loop, than about visual coding in memory.

References:

1. Baddeley, A. (1986). Working memory. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

See Also:
Articulatory Loop | Central Executive | Working Memory

Contributed by Bonnie M. French

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (WAIS)

WAIS

The Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS) was developed by Wechsler in 1955. An updated version of the scale (WAIS-
R) was developed in 1981. WAIS measures global or general intelligence and is commonly used by psychologists. It is divided
into two parts: the verbal scale and the performance scale. Each of these two parts is further divided into subtests, each of
which taps a specific verbal or nonverbal skill. Each subtest has items ranging from easy to increasingly more difficult.

Verbal subtests measure "our store of knowldedge" (Belsky, 1990, p. 120). They focus on

learned or absorbed knowledge [testing] knowledge of historical, literary


or biological facts; knowledge relating to competent functioning in the world;
knowledge of mathematics; knowledge of the meaning of specific words.

Performance subtests (except picture completion) contain relatively unfamiliar tasks. Speed is critical to these tasks as these
subtests are timed. They measure

on-the-spot analytical skills, how well a person can master a new, never
before encountered problem (Belsky, 1990, p. 120).

The IQ measure of a person is derived by comparison to a particular reference group, to people of that test subject's age group.
Therefore, the raw score has a different meaning depending upon the test subject's age.

The WAIS is not only important to psychologists as a commonly used assessment tool, but it is often at the centre of the debate
of whether or not intelligence declines with age. It is questionable whether the current intelligence tests (specifically the
WAIS) are appropriate for use with older persons. Belsky (1990) says critics must be

looking critically at the appropriateness of the measures themselves,


questioning whether existing tests of intelligence are really doing an
adequate job of tapping cognitive ability in middle-aged and elderly adults. (p. 119)

Belsky further asks if

the dramatic age decline is confined mainly to particular subtests.


Would we see the same age loss if we looked at data other than the
cross-sectional studies used to determine the norms? (p. 121).

References:

1. Belsky, J.K. (1990). The psychology of aging theory, research, and interventions. Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole.

See Also:
Crystallized Intelligence | Fluid Intelligence

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (WAIS)

Contributed by Cassie Jacknicke

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Weak Equivalence)

Weak Equivalence

Weak equivalence is a relationship between the outputs of two systems that are being compared. If these
systems are only weakly equivalent, then we can say that they are computing the same function (or
generating the same external behavior), but that they are using different procedures to do so. For
example, human chess players and computer chess players are weakly equivalent, in the sense that they
both play the game of chess, but use very different procedures to decide which move to make next in a
game. (Computer chess players usually use some form of intensive search, which is beyond the memory
capacity of human players. Indeed, an interesting question is how humans can play chess so well given
that they do not use brute force search methods!)

Weak equivalence is important in cognitive science in two respects. First, it is the kind of comparison
that the Turing test offers, which is why it is also sometimes called Turing equivalence. Second, although
weak equivalence is necessary for validating theories in cognitive science, it is not sufficient. This is
because while it is required of theories or simulations in cognitive science that they compute the same
functions as the to-be-explained system, it is also crucial that they compute these functions in the same
way. This later requirement is called strong equivalence.

References:

1. Pylyshyn, Z.W. (1984). Computation and cognition. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

See Also:
Strong Equivalence | Turing Test

Contributed by M.R.W. Dawson

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Wernicke's Area)

Wernicke's Area
Named for Carl Wernicke who first described it in 1874, Werenicke's area appears to be crucial for
language comprehension. People who suffer from neurophysiological damage to this area (called
Wernicke's aphasia or fluent aphasia) are unable to understand the content words while listening, and
unable to produce meaningful sentences; their speech has grammatical structure but no meaning.

Auditory and speech information is transported from the auditory area to Wernicke's area for evaluation
of significance of content words, then to Broca's area for analysis of syntax. In speech production,
content words are selected by neural systems in Wernicke's area, grammatical refinements are added by
neural systems in Broca's area, and then the information is sent to the motor cortex, which sets up the
muscle movements for speaking.

References:

1. Gray, Peter. (1994). Psychology. New York, NY: Worth Publishing.

See Also:
Broca's Area

Contributed by Devon Bryce

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Working Memory)

Working Memory

>Working memory, the more contemporary term for short-term memory, is conceptualized as an active
system for temporarily storing and manipulating information needed in the execution of complex
cognitive tasks (e.g., learning, reasoning, and comprehension). There are two types of components:
storage and central executive functions (see Baddeley, 1986 for a review). The two storage systems
within the model (the articulatory loop [AL] and the visuospatial sketchpad or scratchpad [VSSP] are
seen as relatively passive slave systems primarily responsible for the temporary storage of verbal and
visual information (respectively).

The most important, and least understood, aspect of Working Memory is the central executive, which is
conceptualized as very active and responsible for the selection, initiation, and termination of processing
routines (e.g., encoding, storing, and retrieving).

References:

1. Baddeley, A. (1986). Working memory. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

See Also:
Articulatory Loop | Central Executive | Encoding | Retrieval | Visuospatial Sketchpad

Contributed by Bonnie M. French

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U of A Cog Sci Dictionary (Z Lens)

Z Lens

The Z Lens is a sophisticated piece of apparatus developed by Roger Sperry and his associates in 1955 to
enable them to project visual stimuli onto the retina of the eye so that they are interpreted either by the
left or right hemisphere of the brain, not both at once. Sperry, a pioneer of the split brain operation, used
it to demonstrate that split brain patients had two separate visual inner worlds. If the picture of an object
was presented to the left hemisphere, the patient recognized it when it was presented again to the same
hemisphere. However, if the same object was presented to the other half of the visual field, the patient
had no recollection of having seen it before.

References:

1. Kristal, L. (Ed.). (1981). ABC of psychology. London: Multimedia Publications.

Contributed by L.A. Keple

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