Cognitive Psychology: The Study Of How Our Brain Thinks?

In this article, you will learn:

Cognition is a generic term used to denote the mental activities that relate to thought, decision-making, language, and other higher mental processes. Thus, Cognitive Psychology is the study of mental processes such as perceiving, remembering, and reasoning.

During the 1950s, the cognitive concepts considered outside the boundaries of experimental psychology were reconsidered. More and more psychologists were turning to cognitive concepts. These included attention, memory, pattern recognition, images, semantic organization, language processes, thinking, and even consciousness.

Thus, some major forces were responsible for this neo-cognitive revolution. These included the failure of Behaviorism, the emergence of communication theory, modern linguistics, memory research, technological advances, and cognitive development.  

However, there are certain key issues pertaining to the domain of cognitive psychology. These include:

  • Nature Vs Nurture
  • Rationalism Vs Empiricism
  • Structures Vs Processes
  • Domain Generality Vs Domain Specificity
  • Validity of Casual Inferences Vs Ecological Validity
  • Applied Vs Basic Research
  • Biological Vs Behavioral Methods

So, let’s understand what is cognitive psychology, the cognitive revolution, and various cognitive psychology theories.

What is Cognitive Psychology? 

Cognitive Psychology Definition

Cognitive psychology is a branch of psychology that deals with the cognitive mental processes of an individual. It is a study of how people perceive, learn, remember, and think about information.

Thus, a cognitive psychologist may study how individuals perceive different shapes, and why they remember some facts and forget others. Further, a cognitive psychologist may also study how individuals learn the language.

Besides this, there are a host of everyday experiences that are of theoretical interest to cognitive psychologists. These include:

  • Pattern recognition
  • Attention
  • Short-term Memory and Long-Term Memory
  • Problem-Solving

Thus, we can say that Cognitive Psychology is the study of the human mind. Furthermore, you can answer the following questions using Cognitive Psychology why do:

  • Objects look farther away on foggy days than they really are. 
  • Many people remember a specific experience but they forget the names of people whom they know for many years?
  • People fear traveling in planes more than in automobiles?
  • You remember people you met in your childhood but not people you met a week ago?
  • Large companies spend so much money on advertisements?

So, let’s consider the question why do large companies spend so much money on advertisements? This is because of the availability heuristic. Availability heuristic means making judgments on the basis of how easily we can call to mind what we perceive as relevant.

Example of Cognitive Psychology

Say for instance you want to buy a phone. This is one of the situations where you have to make a judgment. And that judgment is with regard to the question “Which phone should you buy?”

Well, we are more likely to buy a brand and the model of a phone that you are familiar with. Thus, understanding cognitive psychology can help us to know what goes on in our daily lives.

Furthermore, we may have a better understanding of where we are heading if we have an understanding of where we came from.

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Cognitive Psychology Examples

1. Recognition

There are times when you carefully proofread the written work. However, you feel disappointed when you find it later on that there was an obvious error that you overlooked. There are times when the context equally determines what we see as what is actually there. Thus, this is an issue pertaining to pattern recognition.

2. Attention

Say, you are sitting for a science lecture in school. And your science professor gives certain examples along with arguments that you need to note down for future reference. However, you experience great difficulty in understanding the lecture and making notes simultaneously. Such kind of challenges relate to the area of attention.

3. Memory

Suppose, you want to change the password of your bank account. Thus, you create a new password that is a combination of a lot of symbols, numbers, and alphabets, You do this in order to maintain the strength of the password. 

Then, you note down the new password in your phone’s notes so that you can refer to it the next time you need the password. 

Thus, you will observe that there are fewer chances of remembering the password in case you forget to note it down. And even if you note down the password, it will take time to memorize the password. Thus, such challenges are related to short-term memory.

4. Problem-Solving

Say, for instance, you pick up a newspaper and start solving the crossword puzzle. After solving some of the questions, you get stuck at one of the questions. 

So, you leave the newspaper and start listening to music. After a while, when you pick up the newspaper again to solve the puzzle, you notice that you get the solution to the problem. 

This phenomenon is called the incubation effect. And this is one of the aspects of problem-solving.

5. Perception

Suppose you and your friend plan to take a road trip to the countryside. It’s a bright sunny day. So, you start your journey at 8:00 am. 

Around 1:00 pm, you observe that you start seeing images of a water body when you focus on the road ahead. This is called a mirage.

 “A mirage is a naturally occurring optical phenomenon in which light rays bend via refraction to produce a displaced image of distant objects or the sky.” Such an optical discrepancy is a discrepancy of perception.

The Cognitive Revolution

Two movements came to light within American Psychology during the 1960s and 1970s. These movements included Cognitive Psychology and Evolutionary Psychology. Thus, each of the domains of psychology was making an attempt to redefine its respective field.

Cognitive Movement in Psychology

In 1913, the behaviorist John B. Watson eliminated the concepts of mind, consciousness, or conscious processes to define human psychology. 

Suddenly, consciousness and other related terms began to be associated with the field of psychology. Furthermore, such words that were previously challenged politically, started appearing in print as well as during meetings. 

For instance, in 1979, the American Psychologist published an article titled “Behaviorism and the Mind: A (Limited) Call for a Return to Introspection”. This article cited not only the human mind but also the introspection technique to define the domain of psychology.

Besides this, the American Psychologist journal published an article titled “Consciousness” a few months before publishing the above-mentioned article. The author of this article stated that consciousness was coming under scientific scrutiny after decades of intentional neglect. 

Furthermore, the topic “Consciousness” also became a part of discussions at notable places in psychology literature.

For instance, in 1976, the President of the American Psychological Association stated that the field of psychology was changing. Furthermore, the changing field was refocusing on consciousness. In addition to this, the President asserted that the field of psychology now represented more humans over the mechanistic images of human nature.

Thus, such an open reference to consciousness with regards to the field of Psychology clearly showcased that a revolution in the field was about to come.

So, following this wave, psychology was redefined as the science of both behavior and mental processes and not just behavior. It was defined as a scientific discipline seeking to describe observable behavior and its relationship with mental processes.

Thus, it was comprehensible that the field of Psychology advanced far beyond the theories that Watson and Skinner proposed.

Earlier Influences on Cognitive Psychology

The field of Cognitive Psychology did not come to light all of a sudden. Many of its attributes were anticipated way back when the field of psychology was not considered a formal science.

For instance, Greek Philosophers like Aristotle and Plato wrote pieces that highlighted human thought processes.

Besides this, Wilhelm Wundt’s work focused on consciousness when he established that psychology was a separate scientific discipline. Thus, we can consider Wundt as one of the first few contemporary psychologists who emphasized on human mind’s creative function.

In fact, even the structuralist and the functionalist schools of thought considered studying the elements and functions of consciousness.

However, Behaviorism was the only movement in psychology that disregarded Consciousness for almost 5 decades. Though, the movement had brought about a fundamental change in the field of psychology.

I. E.R. Guthrie

It was in the 1950s that the field of psychology reconsidered Consciousness. Additionally, this period also saw the beginning of the Cognitive psychology movement.

However, the signs of the ensuing movement were quite apparent in the 1930s. It was during this period that the behaviorist E.R. Guthrie disapproved of the mechanistic model of human psychology.

Furthermore, he maintained that one cannot explain the impact of stimuli in physical terms. Thus, he suggested that psychologists must explain stimuli in perceptual or cognitive terms. This is because reducing stimuli in cognitive terms is meaningful for the person responding to such stimuli.

In addition to this, Guthrie explained that one cannot describe the term “meaning” solely in behaviorist terms. This is because the term “meaning” itself is a cognitive process.

II. E.C. Tolman

Another development that marked the cognitive movement was that of E.C. Tolman’s “Purposive Behaviorism.”

This behavioral approach emphasized the relevance of cognitive variables and disapproved of the stimulus-response approach. 

Thus, Tolman proposed cognitive maps and also associated purposive behavior with animals. Furthermore, he also laid emphasis on certain intervening variables to define internal unobservable states.

III. Gestalt Psychology

Gestalt Psychology also influenced the cognitive movement. It focused on organization, structure, relationships, the active role of the subject, and perception playing an important role in learning and memory.

Thus, Gestalt Psychology seemly demonstrated an interest in consciousness when behaviorism dominated American Psychology.

IV. Jean Piaget

The Swiss Psychologist was one of the pioneers who anticipated cognitive psychology. His work on cognitive stages in child development was quite influential, especially in Europe. 

Although, in the United States, his work on Cognitive Development was not widely accepted. This was because it was not quite compatible with behaviorists.  

However, early cognitive theorists accepted Piaget’s emphasis on cognitive factors. Later, the purpose of Piaget’s ideas became evident as the ideas of cognitive psychologists gained importance in the United States.

Thus, Jean Piaget became the first European psychologist in 1969 to receive the APA’s Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award.

Furthermore, his work’s focus on children helped in widening the range of behavior to which cognitive psychology could be applied.

The Changing Movement in Physics

The scientists like Albert Einstein, Niels Bohr, and Werner Heisenberg brought to the forefront a new viewpoint in the field of physics during the early 20th century.

They abandoned the mechanistic model of the Universe that came from scientists like Galileo and Newton. 

Now, this mechanistic model of the Universe was a prototype for the mechanistic, reductionistic, and deterministic idea of human nature. And psychologists like Wundt and Skinner accepted the mechanistic view of human nature.

However, the new development in Physics rejected the idea of an objectively knowable universe. Furthermore, it shifted to the idea of considering the universe subjective or observer-dependent.

In other words, the field of Physics started confiding in the belief that attaining objective reality was no longer possible. Thus, things that were once considered objective were actually subjective.

This means that modern scientists rejected the mechanistic, objective subject matter and recognized subjectivity. Therefore, this transition restored the important role of conscious experience as a way to obtain information about the world.

Such a revolutionary argument in physics was again making consciousness an admissible part of psychology’s subject matter.

However, the scientific psychology domain opposed the new physics for almost half a century. This domain strictly defined itself as an objective science of behavior. But eventually, it modified itself and reconsidered cognitive processes.

The Founding of Cognitive Psychology 

The transition from behaviorist to cognitive foundations was not at all rapid. Such a dramatic change came about slowly and quietly over a period of 10 to 15 years.

Furthermore, there is no single individual responsible for the development of Cognitive Psychology. This is unlike Watson who changed the field single-handedly.

Thus, cognitive movement does not claim any single founder just like Functional Psychology. This is because none of the psychologists working in this domain had the ultimate goal of leading a new movement. In other words, they simply wanted to redefine psychology.

However, two scholars contributed groundbreaking work in the development of cognitive psychology. Thus, George Miller and Ulric Neisser are the two scholars whose work is now considered a milestone in the field of cognitive psychology.

I. George Miller 

George Miller published a book on psycholinguistics “Language and Communication” in the year 1951. Initially, Miller believed in the Behaviorist School of Thought. This was because he had no choice as behaviorists held leadership positions in major universities and professional associations.

Thus, it was in the mid-1950s that Miller researched statistical learning theory, information theory, and computer-based models. As a result, he concluded that Behaviorism was not going to work out. 

His view of psychology oriented towards cognition when he became aware of the similarities between computers and the human mind.

Besides this, Miller’s rebellious nature also contributed to such a transition. This is because the psychologists of that era were coached to revolt against psychology then practiced to offer a new approach.

Then, in 1956, Miller published an article titled “The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two: Some Limits on our Capacity for Processing Information.” 

In this article, Miller proposed that a human’s capacity for short-term memory of numbers, words, or colors is limited. And it is limited to seven chunks of information. This is all we as humans are able to process at one point in time.

Now, the significance of this finding lies in the fact that it relates to a conscious, cognitive experience. And that too at a time when Behaviorism dominated the psychological field.

Establishment of Center for Cognitive Studies

George Miller established a research center with his Harvard colleague Jerome Bruner to research the human mind. 

This center was established in the house where William James once lived. Furthermore, this facility was named the Center for Cognitive Studies that completely represented their subject matter.

Thus, the center researched a variety of topics including language, memory, perception, concept formation, thinking, and developmental psychology. As a matter of fact, most of these aspects were removed from the behaviorist’s vocabulary.

In addition to the research center, Miller also developed a program for Cognitive Sciences at the Princeton University.


Then in 1969, George Miller became the President of the American Psychological Association. Thus, the following table showcases the awards that George Miller won for his contribution to the field.

1969Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award
1969American Psychological Foundation’s Gold Medal Award for Life Achievement in the Application of Psychology
1991National Medal of Science
2003APA’s Outstanding Lifetime Contribution to Psychology Award

II. Ulric Neisser

Neisser had his first academic job at Brandeis University chaired by Abraham Maslow. In 1967, Neisser published his book titled “Cognitive Psychology”. This book is a landmark in the history of psychology as it was his attempt to define a new approach to the field of psychology.

Furthermore, the book was quite popular and hence he was designated as the Cognitive Psychology founder.

However, in 1976, Neisser became disappointed with what he had developed. As a result, in 1976, he published the journal “Cognition and Reality”. 

In this journal, the Cognitive Psychology Founder expressed his disappointment as he observed the narrowing of the cognitive position. Moreover, he also expressed his discontent that the research in the Ulric Neisser field had to rely on laboratory settings in place of real-world settings to collect the data.

Furthermore, he asserted that the results of psychological research should be observed beyond the laboratory settings.

In addition to this, Neisser advocated that cognitive psychologists should be able to apply their findings to practical problems. In other words, cognitive psychologists should be able to help people deal with real-life challenges at their work and in their lives.

Therefore, Neisser concluded that the cognitive psychology movement did not contribute much to the field of psychology in terms of understanding how people cope.

Thus, the Cognitive Psychology founder himself challenged the movement.

The Computer-Based Approach 

The computer-based approach of cognitive psychology compared the functioning of the human brain with that of a computer. In other words, the psychologists referred to computer operations to explain the cognitive phenomena.

Accordingly, the storage capacity is the computer’s memory and programming codes as its languages. Furthermore, each new generation of a computer is evolving.

In addition to this, computer programs are viewed as functioning in the way the human brain functions.

Thus, both the computer and the human brain receive inputs such as sensory stimuli or data from the environment. Further, both the computer and the human brain process large amounts of information after receiving it from the environment.

So, the procedure that both the computer and human brain follow to process information is as follows:

  • Assimilate the information
  • Manipulate the information
  • Store the data
  • Retrieve information
  • Act or respond to the information in different ways

Thus, the above procedure concludes that computer programming has become the foundation for the human cognitive view. That is, information processing, reasoning, and problem-solving.

Moreover, the goal of cognitive psychologists is to discover how the human mind processes information. In other words, they are concerned about knowing:

  • Programs that humans have stored in their memory
  • Thinking patterns that allow them to understand and express their ideas
  • Memorize and recall events and concepts
  • Comprehend and solve new problems

Artificial Intelligence

As mentioned above, cognitive psychologists accepted computers as a model for human cognitive functioning. This means that they also believed that machines display artificial intelligence and process information the way humans do.

Initially, computer scientists, as well as cognitive psychologists, readily welcomed the notion of artificial intelligence.

In 1950, the British computer genius Alan Turing designed the Turing Test to determine the premise that computers can think. This test involved persuading a subject that the computer with which he or she is a real person, not a machine.

Thus, the computer showcased intelligence as that of humans if the subject failed to distinguish between computer responses from human responses. 

However, there were many people who object to the premise of the Turing Test. An American Philosopher, John Searle, presented the most effective objections in the form of the Chinese Room problem.

What was the Chinese Room Problem?

Suppose, you are sitting at a desk and there is a wall in front with two slots. One slot is on the left-hand side and the other on the right-hand side.

The slot on the left side generates slips of paper one at a time. Furthermore, each slip of paper contains a group of Chinese characters. As a participant, your job is to match the shape of the set of symbols with those in a book.

Then, you are required to copy another set of symbols from the book onto a piece of paper. Once this is done, you need to feed the paper through the slot on the right-hand side.

Thus, you receive inputs from the left slot and write outputs for the right slot. And you do this based on the instructions given to you. So, you are not expected to read and understand Chinese in case you are like most subjects in the United States.

Thus, you are just following the instructions mechanically. However, the person on the other end would come to know that you are unfamiliar with the Chinese language if he is a Chinese psychologist. But, you just copy the appropriate answers in Chinese from your book.

However, you would still not know the Chinese language no matter how many messages you receive and respond to in Chinese.


Thus, the Chinese Room Problem showcases that you are not thinking at all and merely following instructions. In other words, you do not use intelligence and only follow orders.

Therefore, Searle concluded that computers seemingly appear to understand different kinds of information and respond in an intelligent manner. However, the computer programs operate like the subject in the Chinese Room Puzzle.

Thus, both the subject in the case of the Chinese Room puzzle and the computer strictly operate according to the set of programmed rules.

So, we may conclude that computers cannot think yet. In other words, Artificial Intelligence has not achieved the level and complexity of human intelligence yet.

Nature of Cognitive Psychology

Researchers consider cognitive factors in nearly all areas besides Behavioral Psychology. These include:

  • Attribution Theory in Social Psychology
  • Cognitive Dissonance Theory
  • Motivation and Emotion
  • Personality
  • Learning
  • Memory
  • Perception
  • Memory
  • Problem-Solving
  • Creativity
  • Information Processing in Human Intelligence and Artificial Intelligence

In addition to this, even the applied areas like clinical, community, school, and industrial-organizational psychology consider cognitive factors.

Thus, cognitive psychology varies from behavioral psychology in various ways. The following section lays out the major differences between behavioral psychology and cognitive psychology.

1.Knowing Vs Responding

Cognitive psychologists follow the process of knowing the stimuli rather than responding to them. Thus, the human mind, mental processes, and events are important factors for cognitive psychologists. And factors like stimulus-response connections and behavior are relatively less important.

However, this does not mean that cognitive psychologists neglect the behavior altogether. It simply means that behavioral response is not the only factor that cognitive psychologists consider while undertaking research.

Behavioral responses are the sources for drawing conclusions about the mental processes accompanying such responses.

2. Organization or Structuring Of Data

The second thing that cognitive psychologists are keen to know about is the manner in which the human mind organizes and structures various experiences.

Thus, the Gestalt Psychologists as well as Jean Piaget believed that the human mind has an innate tendency to organize conscious experiences into meaningful wholes and patterns.

In other words, the human mind gives form and rationality to mental experiences. And this process is the subject matter of cognitive psychology.

However,  the Skinnerian behaviorists, the British empiricists, and the Associationists believed that the human mind did not possess the innate organizational capability.

3. Active Vs Passive Participation

Cognitive psychologists believe that a human being actively participates in creatively organizing the sensory input received from the environment.

In other words, humans have the capability to acquire and apply knowledge, attend to some events intentionally, and choose to memorize them.

This is unlike the behavioral viewpoint of humans responding passively to the external forces or the sensory stimuli.

Cognitive Neuroscience

Attempts are made since the eighteenth and the nineteenth centuries to determine the specific parts of the brain controlling various cognitive functions. Early physiologists like Hall, Fourens, and Broca have used methods like Extirpation and electrical stimulation to map brain functions.

Thus, this search continues even today under the discipline called Cognitive Neuroscience. The goals of this field of discipline include:

  • Determining specific parts of the brain responsible for controlling different cognitive functions, and
  • The  manner in which the human brain functions to generate mental activity

Furthermore, the advancement and use of sophisticated imaging technology have helped cognitive neuroscience researchers to make progress in brain mapping.

For instance:

  • Electroencephalogram (EEG) records variations in electrical activity in selected parts of the brain
  • Computerized Axial Tomography (CAT) scans reveal detailed cross sections of the brain
  • Magnetic resonance imagery (MRI) scans generate three-dimensional pictures of the brain
  • Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scans provide live pictures of various cognitive activities as they occur

Therefore, all such technological advances are providing researchers with a degree of precision that was earlier not achievable. 

Cognitive Neuroscience Example

Cognitive neuroscientists have demonstrated that the human brain can exercise control over a computer. 

Furthermore, they have also established that electric impulses alone can translate thought into movement.

In one of such demonstrations, a 25-year-old man paralyzed for the past three years was the subject. The researchers inserted electronic sensors in the motor cortex of his brain. 

Furthermore, these sensors were linked to a computer. Thus, it allowed the subject to control not only the computer but also a television set and a robot. And he could control all of this using his thoughts.

Thus, the subject was able to perform various actions just through thinking or intending to make such movements. These movements included:

  • Moving the computer’s cursor
  • Opening an email
  • Moving objects using a robotic arm
  • Playing a simple videogame
  • Drawing a crude circle on the screen, etc.

So, this application of cognitive neuroscience is Neuroprosthetics. Such advancements lend confidence that it would help people with disabilities to interact and exercise control objects in their environment.

Role of Introspection

As mentioned in the above section, cognitive psychologists accepted an individual’s conscious experiences to define the field of psychology. And this acceptance gave way to reconsidering Wilhelm Wundt’s Introspective method. The introspective Method was the first research approach of scientific psychology.  

Furthermore, the late-twentieth-century psychologist G. William Farthing proposed the use of introspection and introspective reports to study consciousness. In addition to this, another psychologist asserted that introspection was an indispensable part of human psychology.

Thus, psychologists have tried quantifying the introspective reports to generate more objective and responsive analysis.

For instance, Retrospective Phenomenal Assessment is one of the approaches used to quantify the introspective reports. 

In this assessment, the subjects are asked to rate the magnitude of their subjective experiences while they respond to a stimulus situation that happened in the past.

This means that the subjects retrospectively analyze the subjective experiences. These experiences happened in a previous period when they were required to respond to a given stimulus.

Furthermore, another leading cognitive psychologist Timothy D. Wilson stated that introspection is widely used. In addition to this, the conscious states exposed through introspection are good predictors of people’s behavior.

But, there are certain limitations to the validity of introspective reports. One such limitation is that at times, the subjects may give socially desirable introspective reports. In other words, they may tell researchers what the researchers want to hear and hence impress them.

Another challenge of using introspective reports is that the subjects may not be able to approach some of their thoughts and feelings. This is because such thoughts or feelings live deep inside the unconscious mind of an individual.

Unconscious Cognition

The study of conscious mental processes developed an interest in unconscious cognitive activities as well.

Finally, psychologists now consider the unconscious processes after neglecting them for almost 100 years.   

Thus, cognitive psychologists believe that unconscious cognition is able to achieve many functions. These functions were once considered to require deliberation, intention, and conscious awareness.

As per research, much of human thinking and information processing first takes place in the unconscious part of our cognition. And unconscious cognition operates more quickly and efficiently relative to the conscious mind.

It is important to note that the unconscious mind referred to here is not the one that Sigmund Freud spoke about. Sigmund Freud proposed the unconscious mind that overflows with repressed desires and memories. Further, psychoanalysis brings these desires and memories into conscious awareness.

But, the contemporary unconscious mind that we are talking about here is more rational than emotional. Furthermore, it forms a part of the first stage of cognition when an individual responds to a stimulus.

Thus, the unconscious processes form an important part of learning and one can study them experimentally.

Cognitive Psychology Theories

There are typically three approaches under the domain of cognitive development to study questions:

  • How and when does a baby begin to learn, think, and to solve problems?
  • When and how does memory develop?
  • Are some individuals smarter than others?

However, there are some contemporary approaches to cognitive development. Thus, there are six approaches to cognitive development. These include:

I.Behaviorist Approach

The Behaviorist Approach of Cognitive Development studies the basic mechanics of learning in humans. It is concerned with the change in the behavior of an individual in response to the experience.

Thus, the two learning processes that the behaviorists’ study include classical conditioning and operant conditioning. Besides this, habituation is another form of learning that the information-processing researchers study.

a. Classical Conditioning Theory

Ivan Pavlov discovered the Classical Learning Theory. He stated that classical conditioning is a type of learning in which an individual learns to make a reflex or an involuntary response to a stimulus that originally did not provoke the response.

In other words, classical conditioning is a type of learning based on associating a stimulus that does not originally elicit a response with another stimulus that does elicit the response.

Thus, a person learns to anticipate an event even before it occurs in classical conditioning. This happens because the individual forms associations between the stimuli that repeatedly occur together.

For instance, a child blinking her eyes even before the flash goes off.

Also Read: Arousal Theory of Motivation

B. Operant Conditioning Theory

The American Psychologist B.F. Skinner proposed the Operant Conditioning Theory. It is a form of learning that associates a behavior with the occurrence of a significant event. 

In other words, instrumental conditioning or operant conditioning theory of learning is the process that involves changes in human behavior depending upon the consequences of a significant event. 

If the event produced positive outcomes that lead to a positive change in human behavior, then the individual would learn to repeat such behaviors.

However, if an event generated negative outcomes that generated negative changes in human behavior, an individual avoided or escaped such negative behaviors.

Thus, Operant Conditioning is a learning based on Reinforcement and Punishment.

II. Psychometric Approach

Intelligent Behavior is a behavior that is goal-oriented and adaptive to circumstances and conditions of life. Such behavior is directed at adjusting to the circumstances and conditions in life.

Further, intelligence empowers an individual to acquire, remember, and use knowledge. It also helps him or her to understand concepts and relationships and to solve real-life problems.

Efforts were made in the 19th century to measure intelligence on the basis of a variety of attributes. These included head size, reaction time, and tests measuring various other characteristics. Such characteristics involved strength of hand squeeze, pain sensitivity, weight discrimination, the judgment of time, and rote call.

But these tests had little predictive value. However, Alfred Binet along with his colleague Theodore Simon developed a psychometric test called the Stanford-Binet Test. This test used numbers to score intelligence in children  

Thus, the aim of psychometric tests is to measure the quantitative factors that seem to make up intelligence. This may include comprehension, reasoning, etc. Then, the results of such a measurement are used to predict future performance like school achievement.

Thus, these are IQ Tests. IQ Tests are nothing but psychometric tests. Such tests consist of questions or tasks that showcase the measured abilities of an individual.  Further, such capabilities are measured by comparing a person’s performance with that of the other test-takers.

A. Testing Infants and Toddlers

For school-age children, Intelligence Test scores can predict academic performance reliably and accurately. However, testing infants and toddlers for IQ is relatively challenging.

Thus, the most typical way to measure the intelligence of infants and toddlers is to assess what they can do. This is because babies cannot tell us what they know and what they think.

However, there can be a lot of reasons why an infant or a toddler may not perform certain actions. It may be because of the toddler:

  • Does not feel like doing it, 
  • Doesn’t realize what is expected of him or her
  • Lose interest
  • May not know how to perform the action

Thus, it is practically not possible to measure an infant’s intelligence. However, one can test his or her cognitive development. And this is done using developmental tests.

Developmental tests compare a baby’s performance on a series of tasks with the norms established. Further, these norms are established on the basis of observations of performances of a large number of infants and toddlers at various ages.

Thus, Bayley Scales of Infant Development is one such Developmental Test. 

(i) Bayley Scales of Infant Development Test

It is a standardized test designed to assess the developmental status of children from 1 month to three and a half years.

Further, this test measures a child’s performance in three areas: mental, motor, and behavioral development. The mental scale measures abilities like perception, memory, learning, and vocalization.

Then, the motor scale measures large-muscle and manipulative motor skills including sensorimotor coordination. Finally, the examiner completes the Behavior Rating Scale on the basis of the information received from the child’s caregiver.

Then, separate scores called the Developmental Quotients (DQ) are calculated for each of the scales. And the DQ’s are based on the deviation from the mean established through comparison with a normal sample.

Thus, DQs are useful to detect quite early emotional disturbances, and sensory, neurological, and environmental deficits.

Challenges of Bayley Scales of Infant Development Test 

The Bayley Scales of Infant Development Test:

  • Is a poor predictor of future functioning as environmental influences affect a child’s cognitive development as he or she approaches the age of 3
  • Measures mostly sensory and motor abilities unlike intelligence tests that measure verbal abilities.

(ii) Home Observation For Measurement of the Environment (HOME)

HOME is a checklist that an examiner uses to measure the influence of the home environment on a child’s growth. One of the important factors that HOME assesses is parental responsiveness.

Another factor that HOME measures is the number of books at home and presence of playthings that encourage development of concepts. Further, it also assesses the parent’s involvement in children’s play.

Thus, high scores on all such factors predict cognitive performance of a child reliably.Though, we cannot be sure that parental responsiveness and enriched home environment actually increase a child’s intelligence.

All we can say is that all these factors are associated with high intelligence.

Socioeconomic Status, Parenting Practices, and IQ

There exists evidence that there exists a correlation between the Socioeconomic Status (SES) and the IQ of a child.

Accordingly, poverty can hold back a child’s cognitive growth. This is due to lack of educational resources and the negative psychological effect on parents and their parenting practices.

Thus, in one of the studies, it was observed that parents in high-income families spent more time with their children. In addition to this, they interacted more with their children and also showcased more interest in what they had to say.

Whereas, the parents in the low-income families used more of negative words like “stop”, “quit”, and “don’t” while interacting with their kids. Thus, kids of such parents had lower IQs and achievement.

Therefore, this study demonstrates that the early parenting practices have a great impact on the future IQ and the school performance of children.

Early Intervention

Early intervention is the systematic way of planning and providing therapeutic and educational to families. These are the families that need help in meeting infant’s, toddler’s, and pre-school children’s developmental needs. 

Thus, the researchers have recognized six Developmental Priming Mechanisms. These mechanisms are the aspects of home environment that contribute towards normal cognitive and psychosocial development of the child. Plus, it also helps the child to prepare for school.

Developmental Priming Mechanisms

The following are the six developmental priming mechanisms:

  • Encouraging child to explore the environment
  • Mentoring the child in basic cognitive and social skills like labeling, sequencing, sorting, and comparing
  • Celebrating the child’s accomplishments
  • Guiding the child in practicing and expanding the skills
  • Protecting the child from inappropriate punishment, teasing, or disapproval for mistakes or unintended consequences of exploring and experimenting various skills
  • Stimulating language and other symbolic communication

Therefore, the goal of early intervention is to help those children who do not get such developmental support.

To support this, there are research studies that demonstrate that early educational intervention can moderate the impact of low socioeconomic status.

Effective Early Interventions

The following are the most effective early interventions:

  • Starting early and continuing throughout the preschool years
  • Highly time intensive early interventions
  • Providing direct educational experiences and not just parental training
  • Taking a comprehensive approach including health, family counseling, and social services
  • Early interventions tailored to individual needs and differences

B. Testing Preschoolers

Children who are 3, 4, or 5 years old are much more proficient with language than the younger children. Hence, more verbal items can be a part of the intelligence tests.

Therefore, such tests are bund to give more reliable results relative to the non-verbal tests. Provided, the verbal tests are standardized.

The two most commonly used individual tests for preschoolers include The Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale and Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence.

(i) The Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale

In this test, the child is supposed to define words, string beads, build with blocks, identify the missing parts of a picture, trace mazes, and show an understanding of numbers.

Thus, he final score measures the child’s memory, spatial orientation, and practical judgment in real-life situations. 

In the year 1985, the fourth edition of the test was introduced. It includes an equal balance of verbal and non-verbal, quantitative, and memory items. 

Thus, it means the test does not use only IQ items as a measure of intelligence. Rather, the revised version of the test also evaluate the patterns and the levels of cognitive development.

(ii) Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence (WPPSI-R)

This test is used to assess the intelligence level of children between 3 to 7 years of age. Further, this test gives separate scores for verbal as well as performance. In addition to this, the test also gives a combined score.

The separate scales of measurement are similar to those in the  Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC-III). Further, this test was revised in 1989 and hence included new subsets and new picture items.

(iii) Otis-Lennon School Ability Test

The original IQ tests including those that Alfred Binet and  Theodore Simon developed have been refined over a period of time. 

Further, the developers of the refined tests have given emphasis to more sophisticated distinctions among various kinds of abilities. This is unlike the traditional IQ tests that emphasized greatly on the general intelligence of a child.

Thus, one of the popular group tests is the Otis-Lennon School Ability Test. It is a group intelligence test for kindergarten through the twelfth grade.

In this test, the children are expected to classify the items and showcase understanding of verbal and numerical concepts. Further, they are also required to display general information and follow the directions.

Finally, the test gives separate scores on verbal comprehension, verbal reasoning, pictorial reasoning, figural reasoning, and quantitative reasoning. Such scores can help in identifying the strengths and weaknesses of a child.

(iv) Wechsler Intelligence Scale ForChildren (WISC-III)

Wechsler Intelligence Scale ForChildren (WISC-III) is one of the popular individual intelligence tests. This test is for children between 6 and 16 years of age. Further, the WISC-III measures the verbal and performance capabilities of schoolchildren.

Accordingly, this test gives separate scores for verbal and performance as well as a combined score. Thus, the separate subtest scores make it easier to let the child know his strengths as well as weaknesses.

(v) Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences

Howard Gardner, a psychologist at Harvard School of Education, developed the theory of Multiple Intelligences (MI) and initiated Project Spectrum, a curriculum that promotes a variety of intelligences. 

As per the MI theory, Gardner emphasized that an individual possesses eight or more types of intelligences. Each of these intelligences can be used by a person individually or corporately in order to create products and solve problems appropriate to the society. These include linguistic, logical-mathematical, spatial, musical, bodily-kinesthetic, naturalistic, interpersonal, and intrapersonal intelligences.  

However, traditional schools only focus on two of these intelligences that are linguistic and logical-mathematical. 

Thus, he asserted that the greatest contribution to a child’s development can be to help him choose a field that matches his talents rather than forcing him to follow the stereotypical path. 

Further, Gardner’s theory signified that the tests taken in school tested only a limited set of a person’s capabilities.  Such tests fail to showcase the other range of skills and capabilities that play a great role beyond IQ. 

So, when Spectrum students were evaluated on the Stanford Binet intelligence skills, their scores on two tests did not have any significant relationship. Students with the highest IQs had a different set of strengths when tested by the Spectrum Test. Thus, Gardner concluded that the Stanford Binet intelligence scale showcasing IQ levels of students did not provide any information in respect of probability of performance of students in areas covered by project Spectrum. 

(vi) Sternberg’s Triarchic Theory of Intelligence

According to Sternberg, Intelligence refers to a group of mental abilities essential for any child or an adult to adapt to an environmental context. Further, intelligence also include the capability of an individual to select and shape the context in which he or she lives as well as act in such a context.

Thus, Sternberg excluded some of the Gardner’s intelligences such as musical and bodily kinesthetic abilities. He considered only the universally essential mental capabilities to define intelligence.

Thus, the Sternberg’s Triarchic Theory of Intelligence covers only three elements or aspects. These include Componential, Experiential, and Contextual aspects.

1. Componential

The Componential aspect of intelligence in Sternberg’s theory covers the analytic aspect. This aspect of intelligence determines how efficiently people are able to process the information. 

Thus, this aspect tells the individuals the manner in which they need to solve the problem, monitor solutions, and evaluate the results.

2. Experiential

As per Sternberg’s Theory, the Experiential aspect of intelligence refers to the insightful or the creative aspect. Accordingly, such an aspect of intelligence determines the manner in which individuals need to deal with novel situations or familiar tasks.

Furthermore, it allows them to compare the new information with the existing information. As a result, it also helps them to come up with new ways of putting the information together or think originally.

3. Contextual

The Contextual element of Sternberg’s Triarchic Theory of Intelligence refers to the practical aspect of intelligence. It determines the manner in which individuals need to deal with their environment.

In other words, it displays the capability of individuals to adapt to a situation and decide what actions they should take. Further, it also reflects the capability of individuals to adapt to such actions, modify them, or get out of them.


According to Sternberg, every individual has these three kinds of abilities to a greater or a lesser extent. Thus, an individual may be strong in one, two, or all the three abilities.

Remember that the conventional IQ tests re fairly good predictors of school performance. This is because such tests manly measure the componential aspect of intelligence only. 

As per Sternberg, such tests fail to measure the contextual and experiential aspects of intelligence. Thus, the traditional IQ tests are less useful in predicting success in the outside world.

To overcome this issue, Sternberg introduced the Sternberg Triarchic Abilities Test (STAT). This test measures each of the three elements of intelligence: componential, experiential, and contextual.

Further, these aspects are tested through multiple choice questions and essay questions. And all these questions relate with three domains – verbal, quantitative, and figural. 

It is predicted that the thinking, creativity, and practical problem-solving are weakly correlated with one another.

(vii) Kaufman Assessment Battery For Children (K-ABC)

Some of the new diagnostic and predictive tools are based on neurological research and information-processing theory. One of such tools is the Kaufman Assessment Battery For Children (K-ABC).

This is an individual test for children between the age-group of 2(1/2) and 12(1/2). Furthermore, the K-ABC test has separate scales for measuring aptitude and achievement.

Besides this, it also includes a scale that measures only the non-verbal abilities in children with hearing impairments, speech, or language disorders. Furthermore, the non-verbal scale is also for those children who do not have English as their primary language.

The K-ABC incorporates the concept of Scaffolding. This means that the examiner can clarify the kind of response that is expected in case a child fails any of the first three items on a subtest. And he can clarify this through using different words or gestures or different language.  

III. Piagetian Approach

The Swiss Theoretician, Jean Piaget, was the pioneer of today’s cognitive revolution. He emphasized that mental processes play a key role in development.

Furthermore, Jean Piaget proposed an organismic perspective of cognitive development. He asserted that cognitive development is a result of children’s efforts to learn and act on their world.

Thus, Piaget used a combination of observation and flexible questioning to find out how children think. Also, he followed up their answers with more questions.

In other words, Piaget observed the behavior of his own children and others. As a result, he formulated a comprehensive theory of Cognitive Development.

Accordingly, Piaget believed that an individual’s cognitive development begins with his or her innate ability to adapt to the environment.

For instance, children are endowed with certain natural behaviors. These innate abilities include rooting the nipple, feeling a pebble, etc.

Such abilities help the children to develop a more accurate picture of their surroundings.

Furthermore, these natural capabilities offer greater competence to children in dealing with their surrounding environment.

Thus, Piaget proposed that Cognitive Development occurs in four qualitative stages. The developments happening at each stage represent the universal developmental patterns.

Therefore, a child’s mind develops a new way of operating at each stage. In other words, the mental operations of a child evolve through learning. This learning happens from infancy through adulthood. 

Furthermore, the learning evolves based on simple sensory and motor activity to logical, abstract thought.

Processes of Cognitive Development

According to Piaget, the Cognitive Growth occurs through three interrelated processes. These include: Organization, Adaptation, and Equilibration.

I. Organization

Organization refers to an individual’s tendency to create complex cognitive structures. These cognitive structures are the knowledge systems or ways of thinking incorporating more accurate image of reality.

Thus, these structures are called schemes. Schemes are nothing but the organized patterns of behavior. Therefore, an individual makes use of these behavioral patterns to think about or act in a situation.

So, a child’s schemes become more and more complex as he or she acquires more information.

II. Adaptation

Adaptation refers to an individual’s adjustment to new information about his or her environment. It is a term that Piaget used for the manner in which children handled new information with respect to what they already know.

According to Piaget, Adaptation involves two steps: Assimilation and Accommodation.

Assimilation means taking in new information and incorporating it into an existing cognitive structure. Whereas, Accommodation refers to the changes that occur in one’s cognitive structure to include the new information.

III. Equilibration

Equilibration is an individual’s tendency to constantly strive for a stable balance between the cognitive elements.

Thus, Equilibration or Equilibrium governs the process of shifting from assimilation to accommodation.

For instance, children experience disequilibrium when they cannot deal with the new information within their existing cognitive structures.

Thus, they organize new mental patterns that integrate the new experience into the evolving cognitive structure. Hence, children are able to restore a more comfortable state of equilibrium.


For example, a breast-fed baby showcases assimilation when he begins to suck on the spout of a sippy tumbler. Thus, the child is making use of an old scheme to deal with the new situation.

Eventually, the baby discovers that sipping from a tumbler requires different moth and tongue movements. This is unlike the movements used to suck on a breast.

Thus, the baby modifies his or her old scheme and accommodates this new information. In other words, the baby adapted her old sucking scheme to deal with a new experience in the form of a tumbler.

Therefore, assimilation and accommodation work together to generate equilibrium and cognitive growth.


Jean Piaget proved through his theory that a child’s mind is not a miniature adult mind. An understanding of this fact may help parents and teachers to understand children and hence teach them.

However, one of the downsides of Piaget’s Theory is that he underestimated the abilities of infants and young children. Furthermore, many contemporary psychologists argue that cognitive development happens continuously and hence does not occur in stages.

In addition to this, they also contended that human thinking does not develop in a single, universal progression of steps.

Furthermore, a lot of other factors influence a child’s cognitive processes. These include:

  • Specific content that the child thinks about
  • The Context of the Problem
  • Kinds of information and thought a culture considers important

Finally, it is argued that Piaget’s Theory just focuses on logic or reasoning and not other factors. These include practical problem solving, wisdom, and ability to deal with confusing situations.

Piaget’s Stages of Cognitive Development

I. Sensorimotor Stage

The Sensory Motor Stage is the first stage of Piaget’s cognitive development theory. During this stage, infants learn that there exists a relationship between the actions they perform and the world around them.

This stage of cognitive development lasts from birth until 18 and 24 months. Further, during this stage, infants find out that they can steer objects and hence generate certain effects.

In other words, children understand the basic concept of cause and effect during the Sensory Motor stage.

For instance, children learn that they can produce sound if they would make certain movements. And one of these movements can include shaking their hands while holding a rattle. Thus, in a way, they start experimenting with different actions.

Children engage in such experiments as they want to observe various effects that such actions generate. Thus, Jean Piaget suggested that infants try to understand the world around them during the entire sensorimotor stage. And they do this only with the help of motor activities and sensory impressions.

Lack of Mental Impressions

However, they do not have the capacity to make use of such mental impressions to portray different objects at this stage. Now, such learning generates some interesting effects.

For instance, a 4-month-old infant will not try to search for the toy if you try hiding it in front of him. This is because such infants consider that anything hidden from view is also hidden from their minds.

However, such infants start searching for hidden objects when such infants grow older. This starts happening when the infant is somewhere around 8 or 9 months of age. In other words, the infants acquire a basic idea of ‘Object Permanence’ by this age. Object permanence refers to the fact that objects continue to exist even when those are hidden from view.

II. Preoperational Stage

The Preoperational Stage of Cognitive Development is the one where a toddler gets the ability to develop mental images of objects. This is unlike the Sensory Motor Stage where the toddlers were unable to develop this ability.

Now, the Preoperational Stage occurs between 18 and 24 months. Furthermore, the toddlers also get the capacity to develop language. This capacity is to the extent that they start thinking in terms of verbal symbols or words.

Thus, such developments mark the beginning of Piaget’s second stage of cognitive development – the Preoperational Stage.

Meaning of Preoperational

The term preoperational means that infants get the ability to create mental images and develop verbal symbols.

However, they lack the ability to use logic and mental operations. Furthermore, the preoperational stage lasts until about age 7. And during this stage, children are able to perform many actions that they were unable to previously.

For instance, children about the age of 5 or 6 can engage in symbolic play. In such a play, they pretend that one object is another. Like, they might consider a pencil to be a vehicle such as a car or an airplane.

Furthermore, symbolic play consists of three changes. These changes reveal discrete insights about the modification in children’s cognitive abilities during this period.

(i) Decentration

The first change refers to decentration. In this stage of change, children slowly start making others the recipients of their playful actions rather than themselves. For example, they start making their soft toy take a bath, or comb its hair.

(ii) Decontextualization

Then comes the second change of decontextualization. In this stage, children substitute one object with the other. They do this to perform some playful action. For instance, a child considers a pencil as an airplane.

(iii) Integration

Finally, the third change involves integration. This stage of change combines different playful actions into a complex sequence. Such an ability to involve in a more complex set of playful actions indicates that children are growing cognitively.

In other words, children are able to picture one object as another. Furthermore, there are also able to perform playful actions. Like they consider soft toys next to humans who have feelings and thoughts of their own. And to do all of this, children require the ability to think in terms of words.

Also Read: 20 Best Fidget Toys of 2021


Thus, the children’s thought processes in the preoperational stage are more advanced relative to those in the sensorimotor stage. However, Piaget suggested that children in the preoperational stage are still immature in various aspects.

Though children in this stage can make use of mental symbols. But their thought processes are somewhat inflexible, illogical, incomplete, and are restricted to specific contexts.

Piaget makes such an argument on the basis of the following two aspects that bring about immaturity in children at the preoperational stage:

a. Egocentrism

It refers to the young children’s incapacity to differentiate their own perspectives from others. In other words, egocentrism is the child’s inability to understand that others may perceive the world in a different way than they do.

b. Lack of Seriation

Seriation refers to the ability of a child to organize objects in a sequence using some dimension or parameter. But, children in the preoperational stage lack seriation.

c. Lack of Understanding of Relative Terms

Children in the preoperational stage lack the ability to understand relative terms like lighter, darker, softer, etc.


In the preoperational stage, children lack an understanding of conservation. Conservation refers to a concept which states that certain physical characteristics of an object do not change. And these characteristics do not change even if the outer appearance of such an object is modified.

III. Stage of Concrete Operations

The stage of concrete operations is a cognitive development stage occurring somewhere around age six or seven. Furthermore, this stage lasts until about the age of eleven.

Thus, during this stage, logical thought starts emerging in children. In other words, challenging things or the underdeveloped capabilities of the preoperational stage start developing in this stage.

Furthermore, children get the capability to solve simple problems. These are the problems that they encounter in the preoperational stage.

Now, Piaget suggests that a child defines the beginning of the stage of concrete operations when he masters the concept of conservation. During this stage, certain important skills start emerging in children. In addition to this, children get the capability to arrange things in order.

Furthermore, they understand the relative terms as mentioned in the previous stage. In addition to this, they start understanding that physical changes done originally can be reversed. And these can be reversed by undoing the original action.

This concept is referred to as reversibility. Besides all of this, Piaget emphasizes that children reaching the stage of concrete operations also start thinking logically.

IV. Stage of Formal Operations

The stage of formal operations is the final stage of cognitive development in Piaget’s theory. Children enter this stage at about the age of twelve. During this stage, major characteristics that define an adult’s thought process start emerging in children.

As we already know, children start thinking logically during the stage of concrete operations. But, such a logical thought is only restricted to concrete events or objects.

In other words, children become aware of the permanence of objects. However, children who reach the stage of formal operations start thinking in an abstract way. The following are the various ways in which children start thinking.

(i) Hypothetico – Deductive Reasoning

Hypothetico – Deductive Reasoning refers to children’s ability to understand concrete or real events and formulate possibilities. These possibilities are nothing but the events or relationships that one can only imagine.

However, such events or relationships do not exist in reality. Furthermore, this concept emphasizes that children get the ability to formulate a hypothesis.

Additionally, they can think logically about ideas, propositions, and symbols. In other words, such type of reasoning involves formulating a generic theory. After forming a generic theory, children come up with a specific hypothesis.

(ii) Interpropositional Thinking

Besides Hypothetico – Deductive Reasoning, children also get the capacity to involve in interpropositional thinking. It is a type of thinking in which a child tries to test whether the propositions formulated are valid or not.

Now, there is no doubt that the thought process of older children or adolescents is somewhere close to that of adults. But, Piaget believed that the thought process of adolescents still lacked the understanding as that of the adults.

The older children use their newly developed reasoning ability to build theories about different aspects. These include theories about human relationships, ethics, or political systems.

Now, though the reasoning behind such opinions may be logical. But the theories that adolescents or older children build are incorrect. This is because young children do not have much experience or knowledge to carry out a sophisticated task.

In addition to this, there is no guarantee that children reaching the stage of formal operations and developing the capability to engage in complex thought processes would in reality be able to think in a sophisticated way. This is because complex thought processes require a great amount of cognitive effort.

Therefore, adolescents and even adults often engage themselves in less advanced modes of thought.

IV. Information Processing Approach

Information-Processing Theory is concerned with individual differences in cognition. It aims to describe the mental processes involved when individuals acquire and remember information or solve problems.

Thus, Information-Processing Approach does not solely reason out the differences in mental functioning from the problems solved.

Further, this approach uses new methods to test ideas about cognitive development. These are the ideas that emanated from the Psychometric and Piagetian approaches.

For instance, the information-processing researches evaluate the separate parts of a complex task. Then, they figure out the capabilities that are necessary for each part of the task. In addition to this, they also determine the age at which such capabilities would develop.

Finally, the researchers measure and draw conclusions from what the infants pay attention to and for how long.

The following are the processes involved in perception, learning, memory, and problem-solving.

1. Habituation

Habituation refers to a simple type of learning in which repeated or continuous exposure to a stimulus reduces the attention to that stimulus. In other words, familiarity with a stimulus reduces, slows, or stops a response. Thus, as infants habituate, they transform the unknow into known.

Likewise, dishabituation refers to increase in responsiveness after a new stimulus is presented to the infant. 

For instance, a baby is sitting in his crib and sucking thumb. While he is sucking thumb, the television is switched on and a cartoon character appears on the screen. The moment the baby watches the character, he stops sucking the thumb.

However, the baby starts sucking thumb while watching the cartoon character when he is exposed to the character repeatedly. Thus, this is habituation. 

Now, say you switch on a toy that exudes bright light. Again, the baby will stop sucking the thumb. This process of increase in responsiveness to a new stimulus is dishabituation.

Thus, the process of habituation is used to study an infant’s ability to:

  • Observe differences between visual patterns
  • Categorize people, objects, and events
  • Habituate familiar stimuli
  • Recover attention when exposed to new stimuli
  • Distinguish between new and old

Thus, the efficiency of habituation in a child correlates with the later signs of cognitive development. These include:

  • Preference for complexity
  • Rapid exploration of the environment
  • Sophisticated play
  • Quick problem-solving
  • Ability to match pictures

2. Perceptual and Processing Abilities

This includes:

a. Visual Preference

The visual preference is the amount of time a baby spends looking at various sights. In other words, it is the tendency of infants to spend more time looking at one sight than another.

Thus, the visual preference of an infant is based on the ability to distinguish things visually. Robert Fantz and his colleagues revealed that babies less than two days old prefer:

  • Curved lines over straight lines
  • Three-dimensional objects over two-dimensional objects
  • New sights to familiar ones, etc.

Furthermore, some infants may pay more attention to new stimuli than the familiar ones. This phenomenon is called novelty. This means that such infants showcase that they can differential between new and old things.

b. Visual Recognition Memory

It refers to the ability of an infant to distinguish the familiar sights from the unfamiliar ones when shown both at the same time. 

This ability is measured through the tendency of an infant to observe the new sight for a long period of time.

Thus, Visual Recognition Memory of an infant depends on the ability to form mental representations. In others words, it refers to the ability to compare the new information with the information that the infant already has.

Thus, the efficiency of information-processing of an infant depends on the speed with which an infant forms and refers to such images.

As opposed to the Paiget’s theory, the habituation and novelty preference studies indicate that a newborn already has this ability either at birth or very soon after the birth. Thus, infants can distinguish between sounds they have already heard from those they have not.

Therefore, the efficiency of information-processing for an infant depends on the manner in which he or she distributes attention. 

Say, an infant is exposed to two sights simultaneously. Thus, an infant has better recognition memory and novelty preference if he observes one sight for a short period and quickly shifts his attention to another.

c. Cross-Modal Transfer 

It is the ability of an infant to use information acquired through one sense to guide another sense.For instance, the ability of an individual to identify objects by sight after feeling them with eyes closed.

In a study, 1-month old babies showcased that they could transfer the information gained through sucking to vision. Thus, the infants looked longer at the object they just sucked when they saw a pair of hands manipulating a hard and a soft object.

As per researchers, the use of cross-modal transfer to judge some other properties of objects develops after a few months of baby’s birth.

3. Information Processing as a Predictor of Intelligence

As per researchers, some aspects of infant seem to be fairly continuous from birth. Thus, those children who had the efficiency to take in and interpret sensory information performed well on intelligence tests as well.

Furthermore, Visual Expectation Paradigm can help in measuring the Visual Reaction Time and Visual Anticipation abilities of an infant.

In this, an infant is shown a series of computer-generated images for a brief period of time. Some images appear on the left, while others appear on the right-side of the infant’s peripheral visual field.

Thus, visual reaction time is the ability of an infant to quickly shift his gaze from one picture to another as and when each appears. And this is measured through observing the infant’s eye movements.

Furthermore, visual anticipation is the child’s ability to anticipate or expect the next picture to appear. 

Such measurements help to determine the attentiveness and the processing speed of a child as well as his tendency to form expectations.

Accordingly, in a study, the visual reaction time and visual anticipation of a three and a half months old infant correlated with his IQ at the age of 4.

4. Violation of Expectations and Development of Thought

It is a research method in which an infant is first habituated to see an event as it normally would. Then, the event is changed in a manner that it conflicts with the normal expectations. 

Thus, the tendency of the infant to observe the changed event for longer period (dishabituation) is determined. 

Finally, this measurement is the proof that the infant recognizes the changed event as surprising.

1. Object Permanence and Numbers

Researchers using Violation of Expectations Method believe that the concepts Piaget described as developing towards the end of the sensorimotor stage actually occur earlier. These concepts include object permanence, number, and causality.

Furthermore, such researchers also proposed that the infants may born with reasoning abilities. This is called innate learning mechanisms. These mechanisms may help the infants to make sense of the information they encounter.

For instance, Renee Baillargeon and his colleagues conducted a study with infants using carrots. He claimed to have found evidence of rudimentary form of object permanence in infants just three and a half months old. 

While Karen Wynn conducted an experiment using dolls with 5-month old infants to test whether they can add or subtract numbers. Thus, he claimed that infants can mentally compute the right answers. However, this was a mere speculation.

3. Causality

The principle of causality is a child’s ability to understand that one event causes another event. Such an ability allow individuals to predict and control their world.

As per Piaget’s Theory, this understanding develops slowly during the first year of life.Thus, at about 4 to 6 months of age, infants begin to recognize that they can act on their environment. This happens once they are able to grasp the objects.

Accordingly, Piaget believed that infants yet do not know that causes must come before effects.

However, research suggests that the mechanism for recognizing causality exists much earlier. In the habituation and dishabituation experiments, infants as young as six and a half months old appear to see a difference between immediate causes of events and events that occur with no apparent causes.

Thus, infants seem to be aware of continuity of relationships in time and space at quite an early age. And this is their first step towards understanding causality.

But, the infants in these experiments may simply be responding to the differences in the positions of the objects in space and time. They may not be responding to the causes that led to such a change.

V. Cognitive Neuroscience

Researchers studies the human cognitive processes separately from the physical structures of the human brain. Today, the advancement in technology help us see the human brain in action.

The proponents of Cognitive Neuroscience Approach assert that one must link an individual’s cognitive functioning with his or her brain functioning.

Thus, Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience may help in explaining the manner in which cognitive growth occurs as the brain interacts with the environment.

Furthermore, it may also help us in understanding why some people develop abnormally and why do people age?

Thus, Neuroscience helps us in understanding issues like whether intelligence is general or specialized. Further, it may also help us to understand the influences responsible for a young child’s readiness for formal learning.

Brain’s Cognitive Structures

The period of rapid growth and development of brain coincide with the changes in cognitive behavior similar to those Piaget described.

According to the studies of normal and brain-damaged adults, there are two different long-term memory systems: explicit memory and implicit memory.

Explicit memory refers to the conscious memory that intentionally recollects facts, names, events, or other things that people can describe or declare.

While, the implicit memory refers to the unconscious memory that recalls without effort or even conscious awareness. This type of memory relates with habits and skills such as 

Social Cognitive Neuroscience

Social Cognitive Neuroscience is an emerging field. It brings together the data from cognitive neuroscience, social psychology, and the information-processing approach.

Therefore, this relatively emerging interdisciplinary field bridges brain, mind, and behavior.

Furthermore, the Social Cognitive Neuroscientists use brain imaging and studies of people with brain injuries. They use insights from such studies to figure out how neural pathways control processes like memory and attention.

In addition to this, the social cognitive neuroscientists also study how mental processes like memory and attention influence attitudes and emotions.

In other words, researchers can use tests of memory, attention, and language performance to find out the brain systems responsible for certain disorders. These disorders may include anxiety, phobia, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and Schizophrenia.

VI. Social Contextual Approach

The Russian Psychologist Lev Semenovich Vygotsky was a proponent of contextual perspective.

Vygotsky majorly focused on the social, cultural, and historical complex of which a child is a part.

In other words, Vygotsky stated that one must focus on the social processes from which a child’s thinking is derived. As a result, it will help us to understand the child’s cognitive development.

Like Piaget’s Theory, Vygotsky’s Sociocultural Theory also emphasizes the children’s active engagement with their environment.

But Piaget emphasized that a child’s mind is aking in and interpreting the information about the outside world. However, Vygotsky viewed a child’s cognitive growth as a collaborative process.

According to Vygotsky, children learn through social interaction. In other words, children acquire cognitive skills as a part of their introduction into a way of life.

Thus, collaborative activities help children in learning their own society’s ways of thinking and behaving. Furthermore, it also helps children to make those ways their own.

In addition to this, Vygotsky also proposed that adults must help direct and organize a child’s learning. He asserted that adults must extend that help before the child can master and internalize that learning.

Thus, such a guidance helps the children to cross the Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD).

What is Zone of Proximal Development?

ZPD is nothing but the difference between what a child can do alone and what he or she can do with help. In other words, ZPD is the gap between what children are already able to do and what they are not ready to achieve themselves.

Thus, children in the ZPD for a specific task can somewhat but not fully perform the task on their own.

However, they can successfully accomplish the task with proper guidance. And gradually, the responsibility to direct and monitor learning shifts to the child.


Vygotsky’s theory has important implications for Cognitive Testing and Education. Thus, tests based on ZPD focusing on a child’s potential offer a valuable substitution to standard intelligence tests. This is because the standard intelligence tests assess what the child has already learned.

According to Vygotsky, a child’s intelligence grows when he interacts with the surrounding environment more and more. Thus, he proposed that the intelligence assessment tests should also cover this ongoing process.

Accordingly, Dynamic Testing is a good alternative to the traditional static tests. The Dynamic Testing is based on the concept of Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD).

Further, these tests give children leading questions, examples, and demonstrations unlike the traditional static tests. As a result, such tests measure a child’s potential capabilities.

Therefore, ZPD combined with scaffolding can help both parents and teachers guide the children’s cognitive processes.  This means an adult should give more guidance to a child who is unable to perform the task.

When the child learns to do more of a task, the adult can take away the scaffolding as it is no longer needed. 

The Cognitive Psychology Journal

The Cognitive Psychology Journal is a peer-reviewed scientific journal that Elsevier publishes each year. It is a Transformative Journal that follows the hybrid model of subscription and open access. Thus, this journal is actively devoted to transforming into a fully open access journal.

It publishes original empirical, theoretical, and tutorial papers, methodological articles, and critical reviews. And these publications cover different areas of cognitive psychology including attention, memory, language processing, perception, problem-solving, and thinking.

Thus, this journal focuses on human cognition. Other research areas are also focused upon. Provided the cognitive psychologists have a direct interest and find it comprehensive to read. These research areas include:

  • Developmental Psychology
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Linguistics
  • Neurophysiology
  • Social Psychology

The editor of the Cognitive Psychology Journal is G.D. Logan who contributes towards the journal along with a team of Associate Editors.

Furthermore, the Cognitive Psychology Journal has a Cite Score of 5.9 and the Impact Factor of 3.029. 

Cite Score refers to the average citations that a single peer-reviewed document receives published under a specific title.

Whereas, the Impact Factor refers to the average number of citations that papers published in the journal received in a particular year during the two preceding years.

Further, the Cognitive Psychology Journal covers extensive articles in the field of Cognitive Psychology. The research in these publications have a great impact on the Cognitive Theory. Plus, it contributes towards new theoretical developments in the field.

Model of Publishing

Elsevier publishes Cognitive Psychology journal articles under two separate business models:

I. Subscription Articles

The subscription articles model of publishing is the one in which the subscribing institutions or individuals make payments. Thus, the subscribing institutions and individuals fund the subscription articles of the publication.

Furthermore, the subscribers, patients, as well as developed countries can access these articles through Elsevier’s various access programs.

These access programs include:

(i) Partners

The following are the partners with whom Elsevier works to make the world of research more transparent and collaborative.

  • Wikipedia Library’s Access Donation Program
  • Sense About Science
  • REISearch
  • Science Media Centre
  • White City Maker Challenge Program, Imperial College London
  • Pint of Science
  • Load2Learn
  • Bookshare
(ii) Science Literacy

Elsevier also distributes research and enhances understanding of science with specialized and broader audiences. Thus, it connects with such audiences through the following programs:

  • Elsevier Connect – an online community publishing about science, technology, and health research papers from Elsevier Journals
  • Science and People – Series of events that Elsevier organizes to bring together researchers and interested public for discussions on science, technology, and medical research.
  • Media Promotion of Research – Free access that Elsevier offers to the media to help them cover stories and promote the latest research through Press releases and alerts for journalists.
(iii) Research Integrity

Elsevier already has numerous initiatives to ensure that the integrity of research is maintained. 

Maintaining the integrity of research means (i) following proper design methodology, (ii) ethical article submission, (iii) proper publication review, (iv) making research data available for re-use, etc.

Thus, the following is the list of initiatives that Elsevier has undertaken:

  • Organizing information, education, and training sessions encompassing online lectures and interactive courses conducted by leading experts. 
  • Contributing to data initiatives like Force11, Scholix, and Research Data Alliance to make the research data accessible, discoverable, and reusable.
  • Detecting Plagiarism through Crossref Similarity Check – a service built in collaboration with the STM Publishing community to verify a paper’s originality.
  • Following a manual image screening process by running pilots and sponsoring research in software development.
  • Ensuring structured and transparent reporting through CONSORT checklist, author checklist, and adopting STAR Methods.
  • Maintaining transparency in authorship and contributor roles
  • Sponsoring World Conference on Research Integrity
  • Publishing reproducibility papers
  • Promoting the Lancet Reward Campaign

II. Open Access Articles

The Open Access Articles are the journals that are freely available to both the subscribers and the public at large. Further, the authors of the Open Access Articles either pay the fee themselves or are funded by their researcher funder.

It is important to note that the Cognitive Psychology Journal is a transformative journal. Accordingly, funds that were previously used to pay for subscriptions would now be redirected to pay for Open Access services.

Thus, to transit to full or complete Open Access Articles, an increasing number of transformative agreements must be negotiated with publishers around the globe.

However, the foundation of these transformative agreements is temporary and transitional.

From 2021, the authors funded by funders implementing Plan S principles can publish open access articles in this journal. In addition to this, they can receive funding for their article publishing charges. And for that, they will have to meet Plan S requirements.

Remember, the Coalition S members provide the funding to support the publication fee of journals through such arrangements.

Importance of Cognitive Psychology

Cognitive Psychology is a branch of psychology that focuses on the study of mental processes. These are the processes that help us to think, remember things, make decisions, solve problems, draw conclusions, express our thoughts, and learn new things.

Furthermore, these mental processes cover a broad range of mental activities like attention, memory, perception, learning, language, problem-solving, and thinking.

In addition to this, cognitive psychology is used in various professions like education, engineering, public health etc. Besides this, research in the field of cognitive psychology has generated innovative cognitive therapy techniques. Such techniques have helped people to enhance learning as well as decision making.

Furthermore, the following are the areas where cognitive psychology has contributed to a great extent. These include: 

I. Abnormal Psychology

The discipline of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) was a breakthrough as a result of cognitive revolution and the principal discoveries in the field of Cognitive Psychology.

Typically, Aaron T. Beck is considered as the Father of Cognitive Therapy – a specific type of CBT Treatment. This treatment contributed in a great way to the areas of recognition and treatment of depression.

For instance, many patients do not respond to antidepressants despite its prevalent use. This is because they do not take medications for due to many reasons. 

Furthermore, the use of psychotropic drugs weaken the coping mechanisms of individuals suffering from mental disorders like depression. 

In other words, such individuals become dependent on medication to enhance their moods. 

However, they fail to practice coping techniques usually practiced by healthy individuals to ease depressive symptoms.

However, CBT Treatment helps them to cope with anxiety and depressive symptoms through various techniques like Socratic Questioning, modifying intermediate and core beliefs, etc.

II. Social Psychology

The research in the field of Cognitive Psychology has laid foundation for some of the dimensions of modern Social Psychology.

Accordingly, social cognition is an important part of social psychology that focuses on the processes that are of essence in Cognitive Psychology. These processes primarily focus on human interactions.

Thus, Gordon B. Moskowitz defines social cognition as the study of mental processes engaged in perceiving remembering, thinking, paying attention to, and understanding the people around us.

For instance, influential studies like social information processing (SIP) are developed to study the aggressive and antisocial behavior in humans. 

Kenneth Dodge developed the SIP models and it is one of the empirically supported models pertaining to aggression.

Through this model, Dodge claims that children having considerable potential to process social information display a greater level of socially acceptable behavior.

Furthermore, he asserts through this model that an individual follows five steps to assess his interactions with other people. Furthermore, Dodge also claims that the manner in which an individual understands cues plays a great role in his reactionary process. 

III. Developmental Psychology

There are many aspects of Developmental Psychology that are based on Cognitive Psychology. And the Theory of Mind (TOM) is one such development.

Theory of Mind deals with the ability of an individual to effectively understand and accredit cognition to those around them. This notion becomes fully apparent when a child is between 4 and 6 years old.

In other words, a child is unable to understand that people around him can have different thoughts, ideas, or feelings about themselves. This happens before the development of Theory of Mind in the child.

Thus, the development of Theory of Mind depends on a child’s metacognition or the ability to think about one’s own thoughts. In other words, after the development of TOM, a child must understand that he has his own thoughts while others have their own.

Jean Piaget was one of the pioneers of developmental psychology who focused on the stages of cognitive development in children. He considered the cognitive development in children from birth through adulthood. 

However, many researchers criticized many aspects of different cognitive developmental stages. Despite this, the Piaget’s Theory plays a dominant role in the field of education.

Furthermore, his theory inspired immense research in the field of cognitive psychology. Besides this, the modern theory of cognitive psychology has considered many of his principles to integrate the current predominant views. 

IV. Educational Psychology

Many important concepts in the field of cognitive psychology are implemented in the modern theories of education. Accordingly, the following are some of the important cognitive psychology concepts applied to the educational psychology.

(i) Metacognition

As mentioned above, metacognition refers to the thoughts and knowledge an individual has about his or her own thinking. Accordingly, self-monitoring is an important concept in metacognition that plays a predominant role in educational psychology.

Self-Monitoring refers to the ability of a student to assess his personal knowledge. Furthermore, it also includes a student’s capacity to apply various strategies to improve his knowledge in areas where he is lacking. 

(ii) Declarative Knowledge and Procedural Knowledge

Declarative knowledge concerns with an individual’s exhaustive knowledge base. Whereas, the Procedural Knowledge refers to the specialized knowledge a person has to perform specific tasks.

So, the application of both of these cognitive criterias is important to education. This is because it enhances a student’s ability to combine declarative knowledge with procedural knowledge to expedite the process of learning.

(iii) Knowledge Organization

One of the aspects of Cognitive Psychology is to understand the manner in which knowledge is organized inside a human’s brain. Thus, the field of education focuses majorly on applying this aspect of cognitive psychology.

The following are the cognitive concepts that have demonstrated immense benefits in classrooms:

  • The method of organizing information in a hierarchy and
  • How well does such an organization of information gets mapped on human memory?

V. Personality Psychology

Recently, cognitive therapeutic approaches are considered widely to treat various personality disorders. Such therapeutic approaches focus on faulty schemas formed on the basis of judgmental biases and general cognitive errors.

Cognitive Problems

Cognitive problems arise from cognitive impairment. Such impairment occurs when an individual has trouble remembering, learning new things, concentrating, or making decisions that affect their day-to-day life.

Further, the cognitive impairment may range from mild to severe. Accordingly, people suffering from mild cognitive impairment may start witnessing changes in their cognitive functions. However, such individuals are still able to perform their day-to-day activities.

But, individuals suffering from severe cognitive impairment may lose the ability to perform even day-to-day activities. These may include the inability to speak, write, and understand the meaning or importance of certain things. Thus such people lose the ability to live their lives independently.

Further, it is important to note that cognitive problems do not arise due to any one disease or condition. Additionally, it is not limited to any specific age-group as well. 

Thus, conditions like Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias can cause cognitive impairment. This is in addition to conditions such as stroke, traumatic brain injury, and developmental disabilities. 

Signs of Cognitive Impairment

The following are the few common signs of cognitive impairment that can lead to cognitive problems in individuals:

  • Memory loss
  • Frequently asking the same question or repeating the same thing over and over
  • Not recognizing familiar people and places
  • Having problem in making judgment
  • Changes in mood or behavior
  • Vision problems
  • Difficulty planning and carrying out tasks

Thus, mental illness affects many people. But most of the people fail to realize that the mental illness does not only cause emotional problems. It causes cognitive problems too.

Some people experience cognitive dysfunctioning only during the episode of mental illness. While others experience cognitive problems more persistently.

Therefore, it is very important to manage mental illness in order to lead a productive life and have longer periods of stability.

But to manage mental illness in a better way, it is extremely important for you to understand the various ways in which it affects cognitive functioning.

Why Do People With Mental Illness Have Cognitive Problems?

As per research, mental illnesses cause much of the cognitive problems in individuals. For a long period of time, people considered symptoms like lack of motivation, unstable mood, psychosis and other symptoms to be primary in nature. However, they believed that the cognitive problems were secondary in nature.

But, you must understand that it is not the case. Cognitive Problems or dysfunction is a primary symptom of schizophrenia and some other affective disorders.

Thus, it is because of this reason that cognitive problems are quite evident even when the other symptoms are controlled. 

In other words, the cognitive problems are quite evident even when an individual is not psychotic or has not experienced an affective episode.

Besides this, the research says that the specific parts of the brain are responsible for particular cognitive skills. However, such parts of the brain do not function normally in case of people suffering from schizophrenia and other affective disorders.

Thus, all of this showcases that the mental illness has an impact on the functioning of the brain. This in turn leads to cognitive problems. However, its is also true that other factors also impact the cognitive functioning of an individual.

Accordingly, many people are able to pay more attention, think better, and remember things when they are not under the influence of emotional stress. Likewise, people who got the opportunity to learn adaptive cognitive skills were able to think and remember better.

How Does Mental Illness Affect Cognition?

There are numerous mental illnesses and each of them affect the cognitive functioning of an individual differently.

In addition to this, every person gets impacted in a different way. For instance some people suffering from schizophrenia experience more cognitive problems as compared to others.

Likewise, some people suffering with depression or bipolar disorder face challenges in one aspect of cognitive functioning but not the other.

Thus, it is extremely important for you to understand that a mental illness impacts each person in a different manner.

So, it gets easy for you to understand how the person you know is affected. Provided, you have an understanding of the different ways in which mental illnesses can affect an individual’s cognition.

I. Schizophrenia and Cognition

Individuals suffering from schizophrenia often experience cognitive problems in their ability to:

  • Pay attention
  • Remember and recall information
  • Process information quickly
  • Respond to information quickly
  • Think critically, plan, organize, and solve problems
  • Initiate speech

Thus, it is clear that schizophrenia and many other affective disorders can cause cognitive problems. Proper medications can help in avoiding the cognitive side effects. Furthermore, a positive attitude with regards to learning can help people make best use of their cognitive skills.

Additionally, requisite support and stimulation from the physical and social environment can encourage people to cope with cognitive problems in a better way.

II. Bipolar Disorder, Depression, Other Affective Disorders, and Cognition

Individuals suffering from affective disorders like Bipolar Disorder and depression often experience cognitive problems in their ability to: 

  • Pay attention
  • Remember and recall information
  • Think critically, plan, organize, and solve problems
  • Quickly coordinate eye-hand movements

Remember that all such cognitive problems are quite apparent during an affective experience. However, the problem of attention gets better once stability is witnessed in an individual’s mood.

But, the challenges with memory, motor and thinking skills may continue to exist even during the periods of mood stability. 

Thus, there is more probability to experience cognitive problems when an individual suffering from a mental illness experiences hallucinations or delusions.

How Do Cognitive Problems Show Up in Daily Life?

An individual may experience cognitive problems in different ways. 

I. Attention

There are some people who experience great difficulty in paying attention when other people talk and give directions or instructions. 

Likewise, there are people who find it extremely hard to focus on what they read. Further, such people find themselves missing out on important points especially when they read longer passages.

Also, they may find it challenging to pay attention on one thing when too many things are happening at the same point on time.

As a result, such people either get distracted or they get engaged in one thing only and fail to attend to other things. Thus, it is extremely difficult for such people to divide their attention and do multitasking. 

II. Memory

Some people find it hard to remember and recall information. They may forget the directions or the set of instructions given to them. Or, they may find it challenging to recall what they have read or heard.

However, many people do not face challenges while recalling things they have learned in a routine. But, they may experience that they are unable to remember or recall the new information in a way they used to earlier.

III. Information Processing

People associated with those suffering from a mental illness would often experience that the response times of a person with a mental illness is relatively low.

Such people may take a long time to grasp and understand the information. Furthermore, people having a mental illness seem to speak slowly. 

Though it may take them only half a minute extra to speak relative to the normal people. But it seems that you have to wait for a long time to communicate with such a person while having a conversation with him or her.

IV. Thinking

Psychologists usually call critical thinking, planning, organization, and problem-solving as the executive functions of a human brain.

Such functions are called executive functions because such skills help an individual to respond to any information in an adaptive manner.

However, people suffering from a mental illness are less able to think of alternative ways to deal with the problems that arise. Besides this, such people may also face a challenge to come up with a plan.

In addition to this, a person suffering from a mental illness can also find it challenging to listen to new information.

Who Gets Affected With Cognitive Dysfunction?

The following are the people who get affected with cognitive problems:

  • People suffering from Schizophrenia experience cognitive challenges like poor attention, difficulty with memory, and visual motor speed.
  • Individuals having depression or who have experienced an affective episode face cognitive problems with attention, concentration, and thinking clearly.
  • People of all ages but most dramatic decline in cognition may be observed during adolescence and young adulthood as mental disorders like schizophrenia usually start in such an age.
  • Older adults with depression may face cognitive challenges like forgetfulness
  • People having a mental illness and consuming drugs or alcohol experience cognitive problems with attention, memory, and thinking skills.

Psychology Today Therapists

The Psychology Today Therapists are listed in the Psychology Today’s Therapy Directory. Besides therapists, the Psychology Today’s Directory also lists clinical professionals, psychiatrists and treatment centers. Such psychology professionals offer mental health services in the US as well as the rest of the world.

To find a therapist, all you need to do is click here. This link will take you to the Psychology Today’s Therapists page. There, you can enter the relevant PIN of your city and search for the therapists in the search bar.

Besides this,you can even click on the cities directly mentioned below the page itself and search for therapists in your location.

The Directory showcases the local service providers accurately through its search design. The professionals registered in the Directory pay a fixed monthly fee to offer their services to the people in need.

Besides this, they have full control of their own content that gets published on the Psychology Today platform. Plus, the platform also makes efforts along with the registered psychology professionals to maintain accurate information on the platform. 

The team at Sussex Directories runs the Psychology Today’s Therapy Directory. However, Psychology Today has also successful professional directories in the field of health with thousands of members. In addition to this, the platform also publishes the national magazine, Psychology Today.

What Are Types of Cognitive Psychology?

Another important question that people ask is what are the different areas of cognitive psychology or what is included in cognitive psychology?

Well, the following are the various domains of cognitive psychology:

I. Cognitive Neuroscience

In the past few years, both cognitive psychologists and cognitive neuroscientists have developed a close working relationship. Such coalition has generated some of the most alluring developments in the study of the mental character of human beings.

Thus, the cognitive psychologists seek neurological explanations for their findings. Whereas the  neuroscientists seek cognitive psychologists to describe the observations that such psychologists make in their laboratories.

Neuroscience explains the basic electrochemical processes that take place in the brain and the nervous system. And all these electrochemical processes support every component of the cognitive process right from sensation to memory.

II. Perception

Perception is a domain of psychology that studies how the human brain grasps and interprets the sensory impressions or inputs. 

Thus, experiments in the field of human perception are conducted to understand the sensitivity of the individuals to sensory signals. 

Plus, such experiments also help us in understanding the cognitive psychology behind the way humans interpret sensory signals.

Thus, the experimental study of perception has helped the field in identifying innumerable aspects of this process. 

However, the study of perception alone is not enough for a human being to deliver the expected performance. The other cognitive systems are also involved to give the expected performance. These include pattern recognition, attention, consciousness, and memory.

III. Pattern Recognition

We humans do not perceive the environmental stimuli rarely as single sensory events. Rather, we usually perceive such events as part of a more meaningful pattern. 

In other words, the things that we sense are almost always part of a complex pattern of sensory stimuli. 

Take for example the problem of reading. Reading is a complex effort as you need to form a meaningful pattern from those array of lines and curves. However, those arrays of lines or curves would seem meaningless to us in case we lack the ability to recognize patterns.

Thus, you first organize the stimuli that make up letters and words. Then, you access the meaning of such letters and words from your memory. 

This entire process takes place in a split of a second. Thus, your brain daily involves all the neuroanatomical and cognitive systems to organize and understand the environmental stimuli.

IV. Attention

As humans, we select the amount and type of information that we want to focus on. We do not attend to all the information that comes our way.

This is because we have a limited capacity to process information. And this capacity is restricted to two levels – sensory and cognitive. 

Thus, our brain gets overloaded with information in case too many sensory clues are imposed upon us at any given time. So, we can become overwhelmed if we try to process too many events in memory. As a result, our performance gets hampered.

V. Consciousness

Consciousness refers to the current awareness, of external or internal circumstances. Though, the behaviorists outrightly rejected the concept saying that it is unscientific in nature. 

However, the concept of consciousness did not vanish completely. Many people regard conscious and unconscious thoughts as real. 

For instance, you had scheduled a meeting for today at 11:00 am in the morning. You get a notification 15 minutes before that you have a meeting scheduled at 11:00 am today. 

Thus, the external signal in the form of a notification makes you conscious, or, aware, of the meeting. 

However, your reading of the time also brings up another conscious thought. This thought is the one that was initially activated when you received the notification for the meeting. 

Further, such a thought comes from within. Such a conscious thought can be, “You ill get late for the meeting in case you fail to leave within next five minutes.

Thus, consciousness as a concept has received it due respect recently. Furthermore, such a concept is studied seriously in modern cognitive psychology.

VI. Memory

Our memory and perception work together. Thus, the information that becomes available to us is because of the combined work that our perception, short-term memory, and long-term memory undertake. 

Accordingly, the knowledge about language gets stored for a long period of time once it is learnt. Thus, we make use of our Long Term Memory whenever we want to recall words.

Besides recalling words, we are also able to recall information about an event that happened years before in a fraction of a second. Such information does not become available to us from an immediate perceptual experience. Rather, the information of such an event gets stored along with a vast number of other facts in our Long Term Memory.

VII. Representation of Knowledge

The representation of knowledge is the most fundamental of all human cognition. Representation of knowledge means the manner in which the information is symbolised and combined with the other things stored in our brain. 

Furthermore, representation of knowledge has two aspects. The first aspect refers to the conceptual representation of knowledge in mind. Whereas, the second aspect refers to the way our brain stores and processes information. 

The conceptual representation in various individuals can be considerably different. However, most of us experience as well as depict such an experience in similar ways to get along well in the world. This happens despite the fact that there exists inherent dissimilarities between representations of knowledge among individuals. 

Remember, it is not only the conceptual representation that varies in different individuals. In fact, the content of the information is also hugely different. 

However, our neurological web entraps information and experiences and holds them in structures that are similar in all human brains.

VIII. Imagery

The cognitive psychologists are keen to know the manner in which the information or knowledge get represented internally. 

Accordingly, the cognitive psychologists propose that the mental images of the external environment are formed in the form of a cognitive map. 

Cognitive Map is a type of internal representation of the buildings, streets, street signs, spotlights, and so on. Thus,  we are able to draw out significant cues from the cognitive maps. 

Although, the experimental study of mental imagery is relatively new to psychology. However, some significant research has been reported recently.

IX. Language

The knowledge of language is the form of knowledge that all human societies share. In other words, we acquire and express knowledge through language. 

Thus, the study of the manner in which  language is used is a central concern of cognitive psychology.

Remember that the development of human language displays a unique kind of abstraction, which is basic to cognition. 

Thus, language processing is a significant aspect of information processing and storage. Furthermore, language also influences human perception that is a fundamental aspect of cognition.

X. Developmental Psychology

The another significant area of Cognitive Psychology is the Developmental psychology. An immense amount of research in the field of developmental Psychology hat has been intensely studied. 

Further, recent studies and theories in developmental cognitive psychology have helped us to understand the manner in which the cognitive structures develop. 

As adults, we have all lived through childhood and adolescence. Thus we can share our own maturational experiences with all members of our species.

XI. Thinking and Concept Formation

Thinking is the most important function of human cognition. It is a process through which a new mental representation is formed.

The mental representations about stimuli are formed through the transformation of information. Accordingly, certain advancements in the field of cognitive psychology have generated some impressive research techniques and theoretical models. 

Thus, our ability to think and form concepts is an important aspect of human cognition. Likewise there are similar concepts that help us in understanding and processing the information. And to support this, there is a considerable body of knowledge about the laws and processes of concept formation.

XII. Human and Artificial Intelligence

Human intelligence includes the ability to acquire, recall, and use knowledge to understand:

  • Concrete and abstract concepts 
  • The relationships among objects and ideas, 
  • A language
  • Instructions, 
  • How to convert verbal descriptions into actions
  • The manner in which we need to behave as per the rules, and 
  • How to use knowledge in a meaningful way

It is important to note that artificial intelligence has greatly influenced the development of cognitive science. Such an influence is quite apparent as the design of programs requires knowledge of how we process information. Besides this, cognitive psychology also deals with the issue of finding out whether a perfect robot can simulate human behaviour.

How is Cognitive Psychology Relevant to Everyday Experience?

Cognitive Psychology is relevant to everyday experience as it explains the important functions of the human brain responsible for day-to-day experiences.

It deals with an individual’s cognitive mental processes that help him perceive, learn, remember, and think about information.

Thus, there are a host of everyday experiences where cognitive psychology is relevant. These include:

a. Recognize Patterns

Say, for instance, you work in a foreign exchange consultancy and are required to help the clients in hedging the foreign currency risk. 

Thus, in order to do that,you have to keep a track of the currencies in question. Plus, you also have to apprise yourself with the latest events in the international market that can impact the currencies in question.

In addition to this, you have to recognize the pattern of currencies over a period of time to give your analysis about the future currency pricing.

Likewise, a doctor has to understand the symptoms in a patient and give diagnosis based on the pattern of such symptoms.  

b. Attention

Attention or focus is required in every work you do on day-to-day basis. Say for instance, you need to paint a canvas. In order to get a perfect final product, you need to focus on each and every detail.

Likewise, you need to pay extra attention when you try a new recipe. Similarly, while solving a math problem or a crossword puzzle, you need focus on the problem at hand. Any distraction would hamper your performance.

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