What is the study of cognitive processes and mental functions within the field of psychology?

The study of cognitive processes and mental functions is a crucial aspect of the field of psychology. It involves examining how the mind works and how individuals perceive, think, learn, and remember information. This area of study is important in understanding human behavior and the underlying mechanisms that drive it. By exploring cognitive processes and mental functions, psychologists gain insight into how individuals make decisions, solve problems, and interact with the world around them. In this introduction, we will delve into the fascinating field of cognitive psychology and explore its fundamental principles and applications.

Cognitive Psychology is the interdisciplinary study of mind and intelligence, embracing philosophy, psychology, artificial intelligence, neuroscience, linguistics, and anthropology. Its intellectual origins are in the mid-1950s when researchers in several fields began to develop theories of mind based on complex representations and computational procedures. Its organizational origins are in the mid-1970s when the Cognitive Psychology Society was formed and the journal Cognitive Psychology began. Since then, more than seventy universities in North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia have established Cognitive Psychology programs, and many others have instituted courses in Cognitive Psychology.

Cognitive psychology is a sub discipline of psychology exploring internal mental processes. It is the study of how people perceive, remember, think, speak, and solve problems. The school of thought arising from this approach is known as Cognitivism. Cognitive psychology is radically different from previous psychological approaches in two key ways.

  • It accepts the use of the scientific method, and generally rejects introspection as a valid method of investigation, unlike symbol-driven approaches such as Freudian psychology.
  • It explicitly acknowledges the existence of internal mental states (such as belief, desire and motivation). In its early years, critics held that the empiricism of cognitive psychology combined with its acceptance of internal mental states was contradictory. However, the sibling field of cognitive neuroscience has provided evidence of physiological brain states which directly correlate with mental states. In that sense, cognitive neuroscience has vindicated the central assumption of cognitive psychology.
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