Cognitive psychology

Cognitive psychology, also called Cognitive psychology is a branch of psychology and focuses on the epistemological basis of cognitivism with cognition, especially with all those psychological processes that have to do with perception, insight and knowledge. Furthermore, it is classified in the cognitive sciences. Subject of cognitive psychology are still largely unexplored, organized in complex ways psychic mechanisms of human thought.

Subject and classification of the subject area

Cognitive psychology studies the cognition of human beings. Here, the research deals mainly with those states and processes that lie between the reception of stimuli and the subsequent experience and behavior. These include, for example, the workings of neural representation, or the principle adopted an interdependence between intuition and reflection.

The concept of cognition, which has traditionally been mistakenly regarded as antonym of emotion include:

  • Human perception
  • Information processing
  • Spirit
  • Thinking
  • Emotion and action
  • Intelligence
  • Language
  • Creativity
  • Understanding
  • Judgments
  • Evaluate
  • Representations
  • Learning

Cognitive sciences are generally mostly oriented interdisciplinary. Cognitive psychology deals with the analysis of human information processing. For an explanation of cognitive psychology relationships is a fundamental knowledge in the field of neurobiology, ie the biological principles of communication in the central nervous system (CNS), imperative. In the late 1950s the Cognitive psychology has developed as a branch of general psychology. In this case, it was significantly influenced by the information theory. Frequently Cognitive confuse psychology and cognitive science: although the former is one of the disciplines involved in cognitive science, but now also a completely independent discipline of psychology.

In social psychology are referred to as cognitive components of the relevant settings with a social setting associated perceptions, opinions, judgments, knowledge, beliefs, arguments, and other services of the mind.


Since then, about the end of the 19th century has enforced the view that the human mind can be the subject of scientific investigation and not just philosophical contemplation, the approaches of psychology emerge as science. The method of introspection that has been used, among others, by Wilhelm Wundt end of the 19th century, became the foundation for the cognitive psychology. After the long dominance phase of behaviorism mid-20th century in North America finally begins the so-called cognitive turn. Inspired this was by social conditions, and the desire for a scientific theory approach on the "thinking", which carries the biological conditions account now better researched, but it also defines the concept of man as informationsverarbeitendem organism is based. Thus the modern cognitive psychology began to take shape. With the development of information processing approach between 1950 and 1960 some important advances in computer sciences were closely linked, especially in the area of ​​Artificial Intelligence. Quickly formed a corresponding public interest in this new scientific perspective on the human mind, on a science of knowledge from experience and behavior that worked via computer metaphor. The establishment of this new image of man identifies the cognitive turn in particular, as you could see from now on " in the 'black box' " and was able to integrate into the behaviorist theory. The methodology of cognitive psychologists at that time often limited only to experiments in the laboratory. Since the 70s, however, the Cognitive Psychology shows greater interest in cognition in real situations, to overarching theories and the brain mechanisms underlying cognitive basis. It is now compulsory for students of psychology and cognitive science, together with a recognized field of research, with a very high potential for future scientific discoveries. Nowadays, special imaging techniques may help to better understand the underlying complex brain functions. Cognitive psychology is still at the beginning of a complicated research. Thanks to its interdisciplinary trends, it is of great ability to contribute to many other research fields.

Secondary disciplines:

  • Applied and educational psychology,
  • Clinical psychology, psychiatry, neurology, neuropharmacology
  • The exploration of neuropsychological syndromes such as " ADHD "
  • Brain Research,
  • Neuro computer science, computational neuroscience
  • Neuromarketing
  • Learning Research and Education ( pedagogy).

Neural representation

Neural systems exhibit a complex path dependence: Your time behavior is not only the current state but also on the previous history of the system dependent. The ontogeny of mind through experience includes homemade experience neurally represented by knowledge in memory ( psychogenesis ). The internal workings of the mind is far more complex than the most advanced systems of computer technology. Therefore, the image long simplistically used by the body hardware and the mind as software is now obsolete. Nowadays, more and more there is talk of an organized chaos in the brain. A major challenge for possible explanations for modes of human thought and action, the enormous parallelism of the neural stimulus lines represent a localization in simple dimensioned parameters is not possible, instead it is called open systems, self-organization and regulation, path dependence, and nonlinearity. It is in the neural representation of declarative or procedural knowledge, believed to be a co-ordination among others of action potentials of neurons in certain defined spatial and temporal patterns. An important role is also played by the biochemistry in the CNS, as well as neurotransmitters and hormones influence the interaction of several neurons. Of the alpha waves an important task is suspected in the control of attention; here there are numerous different approaches to research in the field of neurology and neuroscience. See also: Intelligence

Functional anatomy of the nervous system

The structure of the brain is one of the - still to be considered as incomplete - Basic Knowledge. John R. Anderson sees the brain divided into a number of definable areas that serve different functions. Different special areas of the brain thereby support different cognitive functions. In fact, can be obtained by positron emission tomography, electroencephalography and magnetoencephalography and, (or: the so-called scanner) to locate the cortex generally determinable functional areas, for example, clear tasks of the " mind" or areas represent the peripheral nervous system. Due to difference images, the known different brain areas could be made relatively precisely identified.


In cognitive psychology, there are the models of the so-called connectionism. These explain the operation of information processing by the accumulation of neural stimuli in the brain to so-called activation patterns. Activation patterns can represent knowledge and make countless connections to other patterns here. A brain neuron can have up to 10,000 connections to other brain neurons; in total there are about 1014 connections in the brain. In contrast, only go about 2.5 million nerve fibers into the brain and only about 1.5 million addition. Our brain is so to speak mainly busy trying to communicate with itself. There arise contextual categories, by their " Konnexion " the knowledge comes about. J. R. Anderson writes of the " nerve- cell-like elements [ ... ] that accumulate activation and exert excitatory and inhibitory influences on other units. " In the brain to work as opposed to computers at each " computation step " thousands of neurons simultaneously. A dense network of connections allows the coordination of their activity and enables human knowledge.

In neuroscience and brain research constantly yields new insights that work into this area. For example, there is even in basic cognitive processes of perception of intercultural differences: "For a long time went psychologists assume the basic thought and perception processes ran the same for all people, but our cultural background determines not only what we think, but how. " ( bold 2004)