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Cognitive Theory Essay

2218 words - 9 pages

Foundations of Cognitive Theory
Elizabeth Caldwell
Excelsior College

Cognitive-learning theories explore the complexity of the mind from the perspective of how the mind processes information. The paper will discuss the history of cognitive-learning theories and how they shaped the way one perceives, organizes, stores, and retrieves information. The main focus will be on Jean Piaget’s theory of cognitive development, however, it will include theorists such as Wilhelm Wundt, William James, Edward Tolman and Frederic Bartlett. It will start off with the definition of cognitive theory and move on to the history of psychological theorists, ending with the conclusion.

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This all inclusive network is achieved by a selective monitor that organizes the immense flow of sensory input. The system chooses, arranges and encodes for storage of new information based on the individual’s interest, motivations and particularly, perceptions. Within this process, attention deals with what individual’s notice, while encoding involves the preparation of data for storage. When encoding new information, schemata seldom copy the input exactly as received, instead, it is changed or distorted to fit the individuals existing system of schemata. Likewise, when retrieving information from memory, schemata only select that which corresponds to the currently active script. Therefore, one’s learning and application of knowledge depends on one’s schematic framework.
The processing of information for storage includes several key cognitive components. When one experiences sensory input, the data is briefly captured in a sensory buffer, which has unlimited capacity. This information can vanish rapidly unless there is real concentration which will transfer it to short-term memory. Short-term memory holds approximately seven items, however, grouping items of information can increase this amount. Then there is working memory. This is similar to short-term memory, but this is used for specific mental operations such as addition. Information that is encoded into long-term memory is organized, meaningful, and permanent, additionally, long-term memory has unlimited capacity. Within long-term memory, are two categories of memory: semantic and episodic. Semantic memory consists of information that is received directly from the environment (directions, addresses, equations), while episodic memory deals with events experienced by the individual. Each of these components plays an active role within the scope of information processing.
Meaningful learning occurs when knowledge stored in long-term memory is shifted to short-term memory to integrate new information into the mind. The most important cognitive associations occur when individuals relate stored knowledge to sensory input and consequently encode the stimuli into long-term memory. This concept differs from the behavioral view of association which is based upon external motivation.

Psychological Cognitive Theorists
Strong attempts to investigate and understand the role of the mind arose in Germany in the late 1800’s. The founder of psychology as a science, Wilhelm Wundt, was the first to research the cognitive structures involved in mental processing. Wundt, not considered a cognitive theorist, he formulated a basis for cognitive development and research. Wundt’s “Principles of Physiological Psychology” holds that the mind’s structure is composed of basic, unchanging elements.
Wundt thought that scientific psychology should center on consciousness and consequently centralize on structuralism. Wundt’s examination of the composition of the mind used a method called introspection, which...

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