Introduction to Cognitive Psychology

Note: this site is not giving legal advice, simply organizing information from various classes and texts. If you need legal advice consult your lawyer.


What this Is and What this Isn't

What this is: These notes were made by a student with a bad memory, in order to attempt to retain highlights of the lectures.

What this isn't: They are not a substitute for reading the text and taking a class.

Is Psychology a Science?

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

Psychology is the science of mind and behavior when it is studied using the scientific method.

When one studies something by using the scientific method of observation and test, then one is doing science.

Science does not provide "The Truth", which is a matter of faith not science.

However, scientific research allows us to say: "At this point, the best evidence shows that XXX is what is most likely to be happening."

The goals of Psychology scientific research are to discover:

  1. What we do - the description.
  2. Why we do it - the explanation, including testable theories.


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

Terms defined:


Topic 1: Research methods

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


Criticisms of Introspection.

  1. Data were inconsistent and a pattern did not emerge. Therefore introspection did not show how things are organized.
  2. Not verifiable (because internal).
  3. Unconscious portions of the mind could have big effects on behavior. But introspection does not see the unconscious. [Freud's self-analysis was introspection, and he is guessing in his claims that he mapped the unconscious.]
  4. The use of words to describe non-verbal experiences is imprecise. Non-verbal responses (such as the measurement of reaction time) are more precise.

Experimental methods in psychological research are widely used:

Topic 2: Forming memories.

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

  1. Memory.

  2. Jimmie, interviewed by Oliver Sachs; Korsakoff's syndrome (chronic alcohol abuse results in gradual, progressive damage to subcortical memory structures); he was nearly 50 but in mid-1970s he believed he was 19 and in 1946.

  3. Traditional information-processing approach to cognition assumes:

  4. General memory processes:

  5. The working memory model: Specific memory processes accomplish specific tasks in response to external events:

  6. Sensory memory: retains data from senses for fraction to about 3 seconds.

    Iconic memory for visual stimuli. Lasts half a second.

    George Sperling (1960) presented triple rows of symbols (letters, numbers) for fraction of a second. On average, participants could name 4 symbols. Partial report technique: After training with a tone they heard AFTER the visual glimpse (three tones, one for each row), participants could name 3-4 symbols in the row corresponding to a random tone, though they could not remember the other rows; they recalled the symbols from which ever line was signaled after all the symbols were no longer visible. Therefore you register all 12 (3 rows of 4) symbols but recall only your row.

    Echoic memory for sounds. Lasts 2-3 seconds in ideal conditions, so it's longer than iconic memory. But in real-life there are distractions. Partial report technique is also useful for echoic memory.

  7. Working memory:

  8. Working memory model: Baddeley and Hitch (1975).
    Experiment where participants had:
    1. to keep repeating a series of digits while they read sentences;
    2. to decide whether the sentences were correct.
    Compared to when they did not repeat digits:
    1. When they repeated 1 or 2 digits, they were as quick and reliable.
    2. When they repeated 6 digits, they did the sentence task more slowly.
    Their ability to do this supports the working memory model:

  9. Evidence for working memory model from fMRI, PET, and case studies:

  10. Experiment:

Topic 3: Retrieving memories.

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

  1. Measure retrieval and forgetting to learn about encoding and storage, because:

  2. We use gist memory, rather than verbatim memory.

  3. Stimulus events are encoded in terms of their meaning, not their details.

  4. Experiment:

  5. Experiment:

  6. Flashbulb memories:

  7. Douglass' flashbulb-memory study accounts of student responses to Twin Towers destruction (9/11): 182 college students filled out free-text questionnaires 1-10 hours later. 7 months later 45 (27 female) (17-59 years) were retested with identical questionnaire (which could thus act as a retrieval cue). Participants:
    1. Did not reliably recall their emotional response.
    2. Did not reliably recall the most vivid TV image.
    Students asked for free-text descriptions that included:

  8. Retrieving LT memories is a constructive process. This includes specific events. We are not activating verbatim memory, but integrating general knowledge of how the mind works.

  9. People use fragments of information to try to reconstruct the past:

  10. Barlett read the Native American story War of the Ghosts to British participants and later asked them to recall the story. He showed that forgetting occurred because prior knowledge got in the way.

Topic 4: Recovered memories.

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

  1. Recovered memory is sometimes confused with false memory.

  2. Loftus and Pickrell (1995) demonstrated they could implant false memory in 24 participants by creating (with the aid of the participants' families) a false account of becoming lost in their favorite shopping mall at age 5:

  3. Hyman et al (1995) induced 25% of undergraduates to falsely recall.

  4. False recognition of semantically related words is said to also show false memory construction and is found in about 80% of participants.

  5. Clancy et al. (2000): The group claiming recovered memory (compared to controls) showed significantly higher false recognition of semantically related words. Conclusion: "women that report recovered memories of sexual abuse are more prone than others to develop certain types of illusory memories".

  6. Clancy et al. (2002): Studied three group:
    1. People that claimed recovered memories of being abducted by space aliens.
    2. People that believed they had been abducted by space aliens, but had no conscious memory of it.
    3. The control group: people that did not believe they had been abducted by space aliens.

    The group that claimed recovered memories described symptoms of waking up unable to move, tingling and/or floating sensations, and flashing lights. These experiences are consistent with 'sleep paralysis' which is known (from sleep studies) to occur when people wake straight from REM sleep (which includes loss of muscle tone). Scientifically, the simpler explanation (sleep paralysis) is more likely than alien abduction.

    Many of this 'abducted' group reported having been to a hypnotherapist and to have first experienced a recovered memory during a hypnosis session. Hypnosis appears to be inducing false memory.

    Personality tests showed that this group (compared with the other two) scored higher on hypnotic susceptibility, depressivity, and magical thinking.

    The second group believed they had been abducted by space aliens but had no conscious memory of it; they reported some experiences that had puzzled them (insomnia, waking up in strange positions, preoccupation with watching a lot of science fiction programs on TV, etc.) and that they were looking for explanations.

    Personality tests showed that the third group (compared with the other two) scored lowest on hypnotic susceptibility, depressivity, and magical thinking.

  7. Repression: Not demonstrated reliably as an additional cause of forgetting to decay and interference. Repression fails to replicate experimentally. By contrast:
    1. While negative-arousal images are not remembered as well as neutral stimuli if tested immediately, they are remembered better 1 week later, as are positive-arousal images.
    2. Flash-bulb memories become less accurate with time. But the fact of having heard the shocking news does not get repressed.
    3. Studying children present at a sniper attack on a school, none of the children forgot the attack: no repression.
    4. Adults are susceptible to efficient and event persistent (and unwanted) memories of stress, appearing in PTSD: those adults do not show repression.
    5. Malquist (1985): studied children who witnessed (age 5-10) the murder of a parent. All were haunted by it. Likewise young children that were kidnapped.
    6. Natural selection makes it advantageous for a species to remember and avoid scary events, to survive better.
    7. Supreme Court (1990s) set 4 criteria for admissibility of scientific testimony, including that it had to be mainstream. Repression is not mainstream.

  8. Recovered memory therapy: Thousands of people that went through recovered memory therapy have subsequently returned to denial of those memories as representing events that happened. APA investigated with a panel of advocates and critics working together, who could agree only:
    1. Most people abused as a child remember the abuse.
    2. It is possible to remember abuse that had been forgotten for a long time. [Does not mention 'repression' explicitly.]
    3. It is possible for people to create convincing pseudo-memories of abuse when they had not been abused.
    4. There exist gaps in our knowledge.

  9. Lack of supporting evidence for recovered memories: Recovered memory therapist claim but have not proved (especially with causal data):
    1. Severe adult problems are often caused by childhood traumas.
    2. People tend to repress their experiences of abuse in childhood. Repression has not been proved.
    3. Memories can be recovered with accuracy in adulthood.
    4. The procedure of recovering memory will help clients become healthier.

  10. Terr's 'special mechanism' for recovered memories: Terr (1991, 1994) claims:
    1. If a single traumatic event occurs, a memory is made, encoded like a normal memory (visual encoding and semantic encoding) and readily accessible.
    2. If abuse is repeated, memories are formed differently and incapable of being consciously remembered. Multiple traumas cause 'kinesthetic' encoding (muscle memory).
    3. Provided this data: kids of average age 3.1 years report a single trauma while kids of average age 2.4 years report repeated traumas.

  11. Critics of recovered memories:
    1. Ask how such encoding can occur. Terr has no convincing explanation.
    2. Ask how such codes could be translated from 'kinesthetic' codes to verbal codes.
    3. Refer to the work of Ebbinghaus and his successors, who clearly and repeatedly established that repetition improved memory.
    4. Goodman et al. (2003) report on 175 well-documented (medical records, corroborating records) cases of adults abused in childhood. The more severe the abuse, the more likely a child was to:
      1. Report the abuse at the time.
      2. Remember it now.
    5. Ceci et al. (1994). Preschoolers were taught to repeat a false account of getting a hand caught in a mouse trap and being taken to hospital. Later, many of the children forgot the source of the data and claimed it happened.
    6. Hyman and Pentland (1996). Adults were told an event (false) that 'happened' to them as children (such as spilling a drink on a bride's dress). Later 25% believed this false event happened to them.
    7. Expanding on the above, a similar experiment where half were encouraged to fill in perceptual details. They are even more likely to believe the event really happened.
    8. Expanding further, adults were told to invent a false account; later many believed their account related a true event, and that the memory 'felt' real.
    9. Thomas et al. (2003). Imagining perceptual details increases the false memory effect.
    10. Lindsay et al. (2004). Contacted parents of ~50 college students; obtained two true school events for when their child was in grade 5-6; two for grades 3-4; and two for grades 1-2. Added a third but 'false' event for each age group.
      1. Each participant was read each of their three events, and encouraged to create mental images.
      2. Half the participants were also shown their class photo at that age.
      3. Participants were told to try to recall these events for the next week. They were given the printed event descriptions and (if assigned to the group to see them) photos.
      4. 1 week later they returned to the lab and described the events.
        23% of those that were not shown a photo developed a false memory of the false event.
        65% of those that were shown a photo developed a false memory of the false event.
        Thus, photos are useful retrieval cues for false memories (as well as for real memories).
      5. Many participants were surprised that the memory was false (when told at debriefing).

    Even more extreme: body memory is the storing of information at a cellular level outside the brain. However, movement memory is stored in the cerebellum and memory of being touched is stored in the cortex.

  12. Hypnosis
    1. Experiment: 27 people highly susceptible to hypnotism; asked if they had been woken up by a loud noise during the last week, and they had not; under hypnosis, each taken back to a night one week before and asked if they heard a loud noise that woke them up; under hypnosis, 17 claimed that they had; after hypnosis 13 still claimed it happened.
    2. Leading questions are asked under hypnosis, causing higher false memories. Does not reliably increase accurate recall of emotional events.
    3. Metastudy shows correlation of false memories with hypnosis.
    4. Memories retrieved under hypnosis are inadmissible in California.
    5. Recovered memory supporters attack artificiality of individual experiments. But the cumulative findings are consistent in showing problems with recovered memory. Converging evidence.
    6. Recovered memory appears to result from social influence; vulnerable clients latch on to explanation by the therapist.

Topic 5: Attention and automaticity.

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

  1. Attention andconsciousness.
  2. Features of attention:
    1. Limited number of things on which you can concentrate mental resources at once.
    2. Selective: you can focus on one stimulus among many.
    3. Automatic: you don't need to devote 'much' attention for a well-practiced task.
  3. Functions (purpose) of attention. Focusing (a.k.a. selective attention) by attention being:
    1. Drawn to stimuli that are perceptually salient (involuntary).
    2. Given to stimuli related to a person's goals (voluntary).
  4. Central executive as attention.
  5. Experiment: Dichotic listening. Shadow one channel, repeating it aloud. Later try to recall information from both channel. Result: Can only recall details of information in attended channel; remember almost nothing about the unattended channel; can tell if it was a human voice, its gender; some people notice if the unattended voice changed.
  6. How do we select what we attend to? Bottle-neck theories:
    1. All stimuli processed to a certain stage.
    2. Everything pours into sensory storage.
    3. Only attended stimuli get further processing.
    4. Early versus late stage of the bottleneck.

  7. Broadbent's 'filter' model. Filter prevents overload of central processor; filter is flexible. Filter out incoming stimuli that don't match. Then a second filter that looks for sound that match the target. Series of filters using simple physical properties (not meaning).

    Flexible: attention easily reset. Some people can shift very quickly. Mistakes occur when a person fails to shift attention quickly enough.

  8. Modified filter model.

  9. Priming effects.

  10. Capacity theory.

  11. Automaticity. We attend to stimuli because of (1) characteristics of the stimuli (bottom up) or (2) because of my goal to get this done (top down). Stimuli triggers:

  12. Supervisory Attentional System (SAS).

Topic 6: Perception and patterns.

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

  1. Sensation (raw data from the receptors stimulates the sensory neurons) and perception interprets information from the senses and assigns meaning in an automatic.

  2. Visual perception is the easiest to study.

  3. Gestalt psychologists (1920s Germany) pioneered visual perception.

  4. How does information get organized?

    e.g. Template matching.
    e.g. Feature analysis.
    e.g. Prototype matching.

    e.g. We expect certain patterns to occur in certain situations. e.g. Word superiority effect.

  5. Face recognition.

Topic 7: Semantic memories.

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

Topic 8: Concepts and categories.

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

  1. Concept: the smallest unit of thought.
  2. Categorization: group things based on shared core characteristics or shared perceptual features or functional properties.
  3. Natural level of categorization: categories that we 'use spontaneously'.
  4. Formal concept: a mental representation of a class of objects that is defined by rules. Includes necessary and sufficient features.
  5. Classical view: every concept is a formal concept; rule-based; clear boundaries.
  6. Natural concept: a mental representation of a class of objects that includes their similarities and accommodates their differences. Based on experience rather than based on rules. Represents the center of a category.
  7. A familiar concept is likely to be retrieved by prototype.
  8. An unfamiliar concept is likely to be retrieved by exemplar.
  9. Young children start using exemplars and later develop the use of prototypes.
  10. Knowledge-base views of concepts:

Topic 9: Stereotyping.

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

  1. People rely on stereotyping because it's efficient.
  2. When you categorize a person you activate a stereotype.
  3. Use of stereotypes can lead to biases in judgment about the behavior of others.

  4. Experiment on job application:
    1. White college students looked at video tapes of applicants for a student counseling job.
    2. Each candidate was assigned high, or poor, or moderate qualifications.
    3. During random assignments to the students, when a student saw a white applicant and a black applicant with the same qualifications:
      1. If both applicants were highly qualified, they were judged equally.
      2. If both applicants were poorly qualified, they were judged equally.
      3. If both applicants were moderately qualified, the student rejected the black applicant.
    4. Apparently in the situation where the information was ambiguous and subjective, a negative racial stereotype was activated.

  5. Experiment on guilt and innocence:
    1. Mock trials with transcripts allegedly introduced at the trial.
    2. Photo of defendant shown as a black male.
    3. When the accusation was an aggressive street crime such as auto theft, that 'fit the stereotype' and the defendant was usually found guilty.
    4. When the accusation was a covert and intellectual crime such as embezzlement, that 'failed to fit the stereotype' and the defendant was usually acquitted.

  6. Experiment on intelligence and SES:
    1. Some participants saw a young school girl in a series of photos that showed in their backgrounds a well-kept home, school, or neighborhood.
    2. The other participants saw the same girl in the same clothes and doing the same things, but with a different type of background: a rundown school or backyard, a messy neighborhood.
    3. Half the participants (randomly) were asked how well the girl would do in school. There was no significant difference correlated with background in the photos.
    4. The other participants were asked to watch her perform about 20 minutes of an intelligence test. Then they were asked to judge her intelligence.
      1. If the photos had shown her in a high SES environment, she was judged intelligent.
      2. If the photos had shown her in a low SES environment, she was judged less intelligent.
      3. Notice that in this situation, people think they are getting data and can be more objective. But this is when the stereotype is activated.

  7. Patricia Devine (1989) shows Allport (The Nature of Prejudice) is correct, and that we can have automatic activation of stereotypes:
    1. Pretest of white students on their attitude toward black Americans. Some were classified as prejudiced and some as non-prejudiced.
    2. Randomly they were presented with subliminal messages: stereotype-related or unrelated words while they performed a standard memory test.
    3. Asked to read an ambiguous description of a person's behaviors. Nothing in the paragraph suggests ethnicity. The paragraph (in separate testing) can represent someone being assertive or being hostile.
    4. Asked to judge the character's personality from 1-to-10 in various attributes including hostility.
    5. Students that had been primed by prejudiced words tended to classify the person as more hostile than did the other students.

  8. What separates the prejudice from the non-prejudice response is that some people make an effort to treat others as individuals at the conscious level.

  9. Techniques to change stereotype, by disconfirming them:
    1. Use many examples, not just one.
    2. Describe stereotype-inconsistent people as typical members of their group. Give vivid case studies. e.g. Colin Powell.
    3. Promote empathy (thinking about the situation from another person's perspective).
    4. Explain behaviors in terms of temporary situational factors, rather than character traits.

  10. Empathy study with 6th graders:
    1. All students were asked to think about a person with disabilities: Blind, or deaf, or in a wheelchair, or with only one arm. One per day for four day.
    2. On that day, half were asked a simple question: "Can you give one reason why or why not this person might be good at their job?"
    3. At the same time, the others were shown a photo of such a person and asked a complex question: "Can you think of 4 reasons why this person might be good at their job and 4 reasons why not?"
    4. A week later, a child of their age came to class in a wheelchair.
    5. The amount of time each 6th-grader spent with the visitor was observed.
    6. The students given the harder question, which caused them to think more deeply about the issues, spent significantly more time with the kid in the wheelchair.

Topic 10: Judgments and decisions.

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

  1. Judgments determine 'what qualities does this have?'
  2. Decision making answers 'which one do I want?'
  3. Problem solving determines 'how do I get this?'


  1. Ben Franklin recommended listing pros and cons, and comparing the costs and benefits of each list. But there are often uncertainties of long-term effects and consequences. So one makes a judgment.

  2. Judgment by definition is made under uncertainty, with incomplete information. So you use heuristics.

  3. Availability heuristic: if an event occurs frequently, then instances of that event will come easily to mind. Influenced by:

  4. Risk: what should we try to avoid.

  5. Judgment of risk involves emotion as well as cognition:

  6. Representativeness heuristic: judging a stimulus according to how similar it is to a category of stimuli. If one focuses too much on similarities, stereotypes get activated.
  1. Influenced by biases:

Topic 11: Problem-solving.

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

  1. Problem solving: searching for a procedure that gets you from your initial state to a goal state.

  2. Analogy: problem solving is like working your way through a maze.

  3. Well-defined problem: Clear single-end-state goal; clear and relatively few options for reaching that goal.

  4. Ill-defined problem: Goal may be unclear; options may be unclear.

  5. Steps:
    1. Represent the problem. Define the desired end-state and begin the search for a path. Try to avoid functional fixedness (the tendency to represent objects as serving their usual function), by allowing yourself non-standard uses and non-standard combinations of what is available.
    2. Develop a solution to the problem. Prior experience and knowledge (familiarity) can help people generate more solutions.

  6. General strategies in developing solutions:


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

    Acoustic Encoding.
    Plays a major role in short-term memory, according to the difficulty people have in memorizing a list of similar-sounding words (such as: cap, map, man, can, mad).

    Acoustic Memory.
    Can hold information for up to two or three seconds. Contrast visual memory.

    Teasdale did experiments in which people did an acoustic task and a visual task. They were LESS likely to report having thoughts unrelated to performing a task if the task was unfamiliar.

    A condition where a body has physical and psychological negative reactions to the absence of a drug.

    Behavior causing physical or psychological harm to other people.

    A formula for a calculation that produces a precise result. Contrast with the time-saving mental shortcuts provided by heuristics, which can be efficient and are often good enough, but are sometimes misleading.

    Alzheimer's disease.
    A chronic organic brain syndrome, usually late in life, whose symptoms include memory loss, decline in intellectual ability, and personality change, often toward a more infantile personality.

    A failure of remembering. Usually refers to a set of memories that are related temporarily; often caused by trauma (medical, pharmaceutical, physical, or psychological). See also anterograde amnesia and retrograde amnesia.

    Part of the limbic system. Controls emotions (including fear) and aggression as well as the formation of emotional memory.

    Anterograde amnesia.
    A type of amnesia in which the ability to form new memories is mainly lost. There is limited ability to express newly learned skills, but only in the exact same context as that in which the skills were learned. Compare retrograde amnesia.

    Anticipatory coping.
    Efforts made before an event that is expected to be stressful to reduce or accept the believed imbalance between demands and resources.

    A strong emotional response caused by a potential conflict; also by the 'preconscious recognition' of an emerging 'repressed conflict'.

    Mental focus on a mental event or on a stimulus that is a subset of the available perceptual information.

    Attenuation theory.
    Triesman proposed that one does not block out unattended information but instead that one turns down its volume.

    Position of the body expressing a feeling in the mind; by extension, that feeling. Relatively enduring. Includes both cognitive and emotional components.

    Motivation to explain behavior:
    • Situational: caused by the environment.
    • Dispositional: caused by something inside the individual.
    • Fundamental attribution error: over-estimate the contribution of another person's disposition (internal attribution) and underestimate the contribution of situational causes.
    • Self-serving bias: use dispositional attribution for good behavior and situational attribution to excuse bad behavior.

    Audience inhibition effect.
    One's tendency to feel inhibited from helping by the presence of other bystanders, by whom one fears to be will evaluated negatively if one intervenes inappropriately.

    Authoritarian personality.
    A personality showing submission to authority, rigid adherence to conventional values, and prejudice against other groups.

    Automatic process.
    A mental process that does not require attention, allowing it to be performed without interfering with other tasks.

    Autonomic nervous system (ANS).
    Part of the body's peripheral nervous system; controls involuntary motor responses; connects the sensory receptors to central nervous system (CNS); connects the CNS to smooth muscle, cardiac muscle, and glands.

    Availability heuristic.
    Cognitive shortcut of judging of an event's probability as more likely when it is relatively easy to think of examples of that event.

    Availability heuristic.
    Cognitive shortcut of judging of an event's probability

    Avoidant attachment style.
    A style of social relationships emphasizing suppression of trust and attachment needs.

    Watchful; observant. Compare public self-awareness.

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

    How an organism adjusts to its environment.

    The study of observable and measurable behavior rather than unobservable mental processes.

    The behaviorist Skinner's main argument against the study of mental representations was (while he believed they existed) that it was unnecessary to include such ideas in explanations of behavior.

    Mental conviction that something is true; usually something that has not been proved logically.

    Following certain patterns of thought regardless of the facts; leads to systematic error.

    Episodes of mania (lasting days or weeks) alternating with episodes of depression (lasting three times as long).
    Mood stabilized by lithium.
    Compare with unipolar.

    Blind sight.
    The phenomenon when a person detects a visual stimulus (such as by moving their hand to its precise location) without being conscious that they have detected the stimulus.

    When a new stimulus is presented to an organism, if it occurs simultaneously with a stimulus already effective as a signal, then the organism cannot recognize and learn the new stimulus as an unconditioned stimulus.

    Body memory.
    Proposed as a mechanism for the storing of information at a cellular level outside the brain. There is no scientific evidence any memories can be stored outside the brain. Note that movement memory is stored in the cerebellum and memory of being touched is stored in the cortex.

    Bottom-up processing.
    From sense organs to the brain.

    Brain stem.
    Brain structure at the bottom of the brain and top of the spine; regulates basic life processes.

    Broca's area.
    The part of the brain that translates thoughts into speech.

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

    CAT scan.
    Computer Assisted Tomography. Internal imaging method using x-rays. Can analyze the brain's structure in 9-12 slices.

    Expression of strongly felt but usually repressed emotions. Reduction in the aggressive (or other) drive following an aggressive (or other) act.

    Capacity model.
    Kahneman proposed that a person's state of arousal influences the allocation of mental resources.

    Capacity theory.
    We have limited brain power to distribute. When portions of the pool of resources are allocated to a task, insufficient portions can be available to perform other tasks. We prioritize, allocating more attention to important stimuli. The approach is like working memory with multiple resources, each allocated to different tasks and working independently (as long as the load is not too big). Most evidence is consistent with multiple filters and multiple capacitors.

    Cell phone.
    Many experiments show that talking on a cell phone significantly (1) slows down a driver's response and (2) increases the number of driver errors, including failure to stop at a stop sign.

    Central Executive.
    Hypothesized to be the director of the flow of information.

    Central nervous system (CNS).
    The brain and spinal cord.
    Billions of neurons, affecting consciousness and mental activity.
    Compare Peripheral nervous system (PNS).

    Central traits.
    Traits that exert a disproportionate influence on one's overall impressions, causing one to assume (but not prove) the presence of additional traits in others.

    The region of the brain attached to the brain stem; controls motor coordination, posture, balance, and the ability to learn to control body movements. Used in fast consolidation.

    Chronic accessibility.
    An idea that tends to come to mind easily and often.

    Chronic stress.
    A continuous state of arousal where one perceives greater demands than one's resources for dealing with them.

    Taking single items of information and grouping them into units in order to store more information in STM. e.g. organize letters into words; think of a phone area-code as a unit; chunk groups of words into phrases so fewer eye movements are needed in reading. This recodes them on the basis of some organizing principle (such as similarity or association) into larger wholes. Helps you store more in short-term memory.

    Central nervous system (q.v.)

    Something one knows or perceives.

    Cognitive consistency.
    Tendency to seek self-consistency in one's thoughts.

    Cognitive dissonance.
    Incongruous or inconsistent thoughts produce tension, which motivates one to reduce such tension, particularly by changing one of the thoughts.

    Cognitive map.
    A mental representation of physical space.

    Cognitive processes.

    Cognitive psychology.
    Scientific study of:
    • mental information-manipulation processes (attention, learning, language, memory, perception, problem solving, and thinking).
    • internal structures and representations used in cognition between stimulus and response.
    • relationships of processes and structures to behavior.

    Began September 11, 1956 at an M.I.T. symposium on information theory.

    Cognitive revolution.

    Cognitive theory of emotion.
    A stimulus causes physical arousal, but it's the cognitive appraisal of that arousal that leads to feeling an emotion. e.g. calling someone to ask for a date is more likely if you meet them on a scary suspension bridge than 5 minutes off the bridge.

    Cognitive therapy.
    A therapy [developed by Aaron Beck] that assumes that our beliefs and perceptions influence our emotional responses. Our negative thought patterns (rather than unconscious conflicts or early life traumas) are the causes of mental disorders such as depression anxiety. Cognitive therapy helps patients/clients to become aware of such beliefs as well as their effect in producing problems, and then helps patients/clients alter such beliefs.

    Public action to follow with a direct request.

    Common fate (law of).
    A Gestalt law or rule that one tends to group together elements moving in the same direction at the same rate.

    Uncontrollable, repetitive, or unwanted urge to perform some act; can be a defense against unacceptable ideas; failure can leads to overt anxiety, but therapy can include not performing the actions and finding that one survives.

    Mental representation of an object, event, relationship, property. A basic unit of thought.

    Confirming behavior.
    Behavior that matches the (believed) opinion of an observer. E.g. A randomly selected volunteer is judged by an opposite-gender interviewer to be more likable on average if the volunteer was told earlier that the interviewer liked them, when compared with volunteers told, "she didn't seem to like you".

    One's tendency to adopt the behaviors, attitudes, and values of other members of the group to which they want to belong. A conformer responds to imagined as well as real group pressure. See also group polarization.

    Connectionist Approach.
    Assumes that networks are made of simple processing units.

    Attention with awareness. Applies to internal and external events and environment.

    Consistent Mapping condition.
    In Schneider and Shiffrin's study of visual search for targets, the number of targets has an effect on processing.

    Contact hypothesis condition.
    Direct contact between groups will reduce prejudice.

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

    Decision aversion.
    Tendency to avoid making decisions, especially tougher decisions.

    Decision making.
    The process of deciding an issue or question, by selecting and rejecting available options, to choose between alternatives.

    Declarative memory.
    Memory for facts, events, and other information.

    False or irrational belief that one maintains despite 'clear' (to others) evidence to the contrary.

    Demand characteristics.
    Possessed by an experimental task that cues the subject about how to behave.

    Refusal to accept reality; acting as if a painful event had not happened or as if a painful thought or feeling did not exist.

    Discounting principle.
    When a particular event has several possible causal explanations, one is much less likely to attribute the effect to a single cause.

    Distal stimuli.
    Are to visual perception as phonemes are to language (according to Biederman).

    Divergent thinking.
    Production of unusual yet appropriate responses to a problem.

    The genetic material. Located in the cell nucleus, cytoplasm, and mitochondria.
    If the Thymine nucleotide is on one strand then Adenine is on the other (the A-T pair).

    Dual-coding hypothesis.
    Recall will be most effective for items that are coded both visually and verbally.

    Dependent variable(s); compare with Independent variable.

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

    Echoic memory.
    Sensory memory that allows auditory information to be stored briefly.

    Ecological validity.
    The extent to which things that are studied actually occur in the real world (outside of artificial or laboratory conditions).

    The part of personality involved in self-preservation.

    Elaborative rehearsal.
    Thinking about how new material is connected or related to information already in LTM. Results in deeper processing levels than simple rehearsal.

    Empiricist (in cognitive psychology).
    Make these assumptions:
    • Knowledge comes from the experience of an individual.
    • Learning occurs through the mental association of ideas.
    • Most human characteristics and capabilities are changeable.

    Encoding (Memory).
    Conversion of stimulus [input] events into forms that the brain can manipulate and store.
    One of the general memory processes, which include:

    Encoding specificity.
    • Stimuli can only be effective memory triggers is they match the way that the information was encoded initially.
    • Subsequent retrieval of information improves if cues (visual, auditory, etc.) received at the time of recall are similar to those present at the time of encoding. Example: scuba divers that learn information in the water are more likely to remember the information in the water than if they learn it on land.
    • Also best explanation of mood-dependent memory.

    Eidetic memory.
    Ability to recall memories so clearly they can be viewed like a clear picture.

    Episodic memory.
    Long-term memory of an autobiographical event and its context.

    Contrast semantic memory (of which it may be a subsystem).

    Organism of one or more eukaryotic cells; each cell contains a membrane-bound nucleus.
    Originated 2B years ago.
    Contrast prokaryote.

    A specific remembered instance of a category. Get the details (as well as what is typical).

    Used in retrieval for an unfamiliar object, or if the situation includes a reminder of a specific instance. Compare with prototype, used in retrieval for a familiar object.

    • Between Subjects: expose different, randomly assigned participants to different experimental conditions; look for differences in performance between groups that receive the experimental conditions compared with the control conditions.
    • Within Subjects: expose a participant to more than one experimental condition; look for differences in performance of the participant depending on the condition.

    Explanatory Style.
    How one describes one's success and failure to others.

    Eye witness.
    • Eyewitnesses are heavily relied upon: in 347 British cases with only only eye witness, there was 74% conviction. [But need comparative info on % of convictions in comparable cases with no eye witness.]
    • Memories of eyewitnesses deteriorate when time elapses before they are interviewed.
    • Memories are manipulable; e.g.
      • where students are asked to estimate the speed 'at which the car was going past the barn' in a movie, six times as many students reported there was a barn as students that were not so primed.
      • where students are asked 'did the truck pass the red car while it was stopped at the STOP sign, 80% believed that they saw the nonexistent STOP sign. But it was a YIELD sign.

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

    Face recognition.
    Bruce et al. (1993): people are 96% accurate at sorting faces into male or female. Bruce claimed this was bottom-up and that features were guiding perception.

    So Bruce did a second experiment, making the features harder to detect, by presenting the photos upside-down. Accuracy decreased to 79% (not face recognition, but gender estimate).

    Tanaka and Farah (1993): Is face recognition based on detection of specific features or the whole face? Experiment showed participants are significantly more accurate in recognizing Drawings of full faces compared to parts of faces; for drawings of houses, participants showed no difference in ability to recognize of full view or partial view.

    Brain researchers find brain circuits in temporal and occipital cortex devoted to face recognition.

    Brain damage can cause prosopognosia.

    Face recognition by computers tested pre-9-11-2001. It could catch 90% of suspects, but only if 1-in-3 non-suspects were stopped also. 2002: 47% definite matches with 2 or 3 false alarms per hour.

    Facial feedback.
    Pulling a facial expression (fear, joy, anger, etc) stimulates the physiology.

    A statement that can be confirmed or disconfirmed by careful observations. Compare opinion.

    False Memory.
    "Recollection" months or years later of an "event" that never took place. Compare recovered memory.

    False negative.
    An error of omission. The lack of a response that should be there. See also false positive.

    False positive.
    An error of commission. The inclusion of a response that should not be there. See also false negative.

    Fast Consolidation.
    Hippocampus is involved the fast consolidation of emotional and declarative memories.
    Cerebellum is also involved fast consolidation.
    Disrupted by electric shock (tested by Benjamin Franklin).

    Feature analysis or Featural analysis.
    • Begin by recognizing individual features (very primitive data).
    • Primary visual cortex has 'feature detection' cells (for corners, edges, vertical, horizontal, etc.).
    • Combine the features to recognize an object. Perhaps the intermediate neurons assemble geons (building blocks of visual objects).

    Advantages over template matching:

    • Need fewer primitive features than templates.
    • Explains how we can recognize partial views and variations (which template matching fails to explain).


    • No clear definition of a feature.
    • No clear definition of which features to combine or how to combine them.

    Filter model.
    Broadbent proposed this model as an explanation of how people can often shift and reset their attention easily and very quickly:
    • Series of flexible filter that use simple physical properties (not meaning).
    • Prevent overload of central processor.
    • First filter screens out incoming stimuli that don't match.
    • Second filter looks for sound that match the target.

    Filter model (modified) or Modified filter model.
    Two stages:
    1. Check for physical features.
    2. Check for high priority items.

    Flashbulb memories.
    Vivid images of circumstances associated with surprising or strongly emotional events. It is now a discredited idea that memories with particularly strong emotional impact are more completely accurate than other memories. If there was a complete memory, it should reliably report extraordinary detail, including (Browning and Kulik):
    • Location where one learns the news.
    • Source of the news.
    • What one was doing at the time of learning.
    • Emotional response of oneself. Literature shows little evidence that people can recall their specific emotion.
    • Emotional response of others.
    • Aftermath: what did they start to do after learning the news.

    functional MRI: internal imaging method using magnetism of the blood. Blood leaving the heart is maximally magnetic and decreases as moves further from heart.

    Frontal lobe syndrome.
    Problems with supervision; disturbed attention; increased distractibility; fine with routines but cannot learn tasks in a new situation. Portions of the frontal lobe are vital for controlled processing and the Supervisory Attentional System (SAS).

    Functional Amnesia.
    Severe memory loss caused by psychological factors (such as anxiety, hysteria, or repression).

    The study of an organism's mind and behavior by examining the organism's interactions with and adaptation to its environment. The function of an object determines the form, structure, and material of an object. Look at the mind from the point of view of what it does and what is served by that. Emphasize the adaptation of the organism to its environment. Focus on what role a particular system (like the mind) served for an organism (like a human). The study of the contents of consciousness [William James].

    Fundamental Attribution Error (FAE).
    The tendency for an observer of other people's behavior:
    1. to underestimate the impact of situation and environment, and
    2. to overestimate the influence of their disposition.

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

    Segment of DNA within a chromosome.
    Region of DNA that cells transcribe into RNA and translate into protein.

    Gene expression:
    Controlled bu (1) operator genes and (2)DNA binding proteins.

    General memory processes:

    Genetic Epistemology.
    Jean Piaget's approach to describing the intellectual structures that underlie cognitive experience at different developmental stages.

    The genetic information of an organism (or of a virus). It include the genes and any other DNA of an organism.

    Primitive 3D geometrical ion. Bierderman proposed 36 geons. See also the 44 phonemes (primitive sounds) of the hundreds of thousands of English words.

    Proposed for use in feature analysis as building blocks of visual objects. Explain:

    • Why we recognize familiar objects from any orientation.
    • Why we recognize partially hidden objects.
    • Why we recognize degraded objects as long as the geon features (such as angles) but recognition reduces if you break up the geons.

    Represents an organism's exact genetic makeup, i.e., its genes.
    Compare with phenotype.

    Gestalt approach.
    A meaningful pattern or 'good' form. Psychological phenomena cannot be reduced to simple elements, but must be studied in their entirety.
    • The whole is greater than the sum of the parts.
    • Brains have natural laws for organizing sensory inputs.
    • When we observe something, properties emerge from the stimulus that are not properties of any of the individual stimuli.
    • Rules:
      • Figure-ground: 'figure' is the characteristics that corresponds to the objects; 'ground' is everything else in the background.
      • Similarity: automatically connect things that are close together.
      • Proximity.
      • Closure: If a form has small gaps, fill in the gaps and detect a meaningful form. Can explain the phenomenon of 'subjective contours'.
      • common fate.
      • Continuity: Prefer to follow continuous lines.

    Gestalt therapy.
    Offers ways to unite one's mind and body, making one whole.

    Gibson's theory of vision.
    According to Gibson's theory, viewers directly perceive shapes, whole objects, and each object's 'affordances'.

    Gist Memory.
    Essential properties, main ideas.
    Easier to form than verbatim memory and forgotten more slowly than verbatim memory.

    Two or more people that interact with and influence each another, who depend upon one another, and who share common goals and a collective identity. A group can be threatened from within by:

    Group polarization.
    Tendency of a group to take a more extreme position than the positions of individual members of the group. See also conformity.

    Group think.
    Tendency of a group's excessive desire to reach consensus and suppress dissent; this tendency weakens and deteriorates the members' mental efficiency, reality testing, and moral judgment.

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

    A simple rule that produces a solution. Efficient and time-saving mental shortcut that can replace a complex judgment by a simple rule of thumb; often good enough; sometimes misleading. Contrast with an algorithm, which produces a precise result.

    Part of the limbic system involved in acquiring explicit memories. Used in the fast consolidation of emotional and declarative memories.

    A proposition consistent with know data and probably true, but requiring further experimentation.

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

    Iconic memory.
    Sensory memory for visual events; stores large amounts of information for a very brief time, to about half a second. Lets us see (for example) the figure traced by a sparkler in the night. Sperling's partial-report research demonstrated that the capacity of iconic memory was larger than previously believed.

    Unhappy or discontent with one's own functioning to the extent that it interferes with ones own life or with society (one has subjective discomfort and maladaptive functioning).

    Intentional filter.
    Our expectations influence the filter for further processing, for attention. Experiments on early-selection processing: dichonic listening of one attended channel and one unattended channel. Auditor reports a phrase from unattended channel that completes a phrase from the attended channel.

    Though as yet, there are no experiments to distinguish early and late selection models.

    Interacting Image.
    A method of remembering a pair of words by picturing an interaction where one image does something to the other image, e.g. an elephant smoking a cigar.

    Difficulty in retrieving a memory, particularly if retrieval cues do not point effectively to one specific memory but to several. See for example retroactive interference.

    Interference task.
    Any task that prevents maintenance rehearsal or prevents memories from being transferred to LTM. e.g. Count backward from 1000 by 3's or write your phone number backwards. In face of such interference:
    • 0 second retention ~95%
    • 5 second retention ~50%
    • 10 second retention ~27%
    • 18 second retention ~11%

    Internal attribution.
    Attribution that ascribes the cause of a person's action to factors internal to the person. Factors include abilities, attitudes, effort, moods, and personality traits.

    Looking inward to consider your own experiences and mental processes.

    Independent variable(s); compare with Dependent variable.

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

    Process of drawing conclusions from available data; also, the product of that mental activity. Draws on LTM also.

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

    Kin selection.
    A theory that people will tend to help blood relatives preferentially (because this will increase the odds that their genes will be transmitted to subsequent generations).

    Kinesthetic sense.
    One's impression of body position and the movement of one's body parts relative to each other.

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

    The process based on experience that leads to a relatively permanent change in the mind, and therefore in actual or potential behavior.

    Levels-of-processing theory .
    A theory that the deeper the level at which one processes information, the more likely one is to retain the memory. The depth to which STM contents are processed during consolidation to LTM. e.g. a superficial analysis would be the vowel count; a deeper level would be the meaning and relevance.

    Limbic system .
    The regions of the brain that regulate memory as well as the major physiological functions, emotional behavior, and basic motivational urges. Six components:
    • amygdala: controls emotions and aggression as well as the formation of emotional memory.
    • fornix: connecting two hemispheres of cerebellum.
    • hippocampus: involved in acquiring explicit memories; used in fast consolidation of emotional and declarative memories.
    • mammillary bodies.
    • olifactory bulb.
    • septum.
    Connects to the forebrain's
    • diencephalon.
    • telencephalon.

    Loci (memory method of).
    A mnemonic device in which an idea is associated with a place or part of a building.

    Long-term memory. Memory processes that preserve information for later retrieval at any time. Relatively permanent; unlimited capacity and duration. Compare with short-term memory.

    Bahrick studied the retention of Spanish vocabulary, and showed that:

    • Large portions of information remained in LTM.
    • Over fifty years.

    Memories can be altered later by storage of related information, interfering with LTM:

    • LTM can include additions to the original event.
    • LTM can lose items from the original event.
    • LTM can include revisions of the original event.
    • On encoding information for storing in LTM, the meaning is more important than the exact physical form.

    Words confused in long term memory are often related semantically (such as 'big' and 'large').

    Long Term Potentiation.
    Increases in the responsiveness of synapses.

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

    Magical thinking.
    Believing in unusual and non-scientific causes of events; performing superstitious behaviors.

    Maintenance rehearsal.
    Process of refreshing short-term memory by repeating the contents of STM over and over.

    Marr's model of vision.
    In David Marr's model of vision, the 3-D-sketch stage incorporates top-down knowledge.

    In the brain stem; regulates breathing, waking, and heartbeat.

    Cellular process at the basis of sexual reproduction: nucleus and cell divide, with crossing-over between homologous chromosomes, leading to new sequences.
    The number of chromosomes is halved (reduced from diploid to haploid).
    Compare mitosis.

    Several interrelated processes of cognition used for storage, manipulation, and retrieval of information.
    The capacity to encode and store something, and to recall something learned or to recognize something previously experienced. The most active area in psychology research. Used by theories of attention, etc.

    Mendalian genetics.
    The study hereditary prior to Molecular genetics and the discovery of the genetic code.

    Mental activity.
    Brain activity.

    Mental map.
    Research by Barbara Tversky suggests that one's mental maps appear to be systematically distorted by use of heuristics.

    Mental processes.
    The activities of your brain to handle information, when you think, perceive objects, store information, etc. [A process is any activity that involves more than one operation or change.]

    Mere exposure effect.
    The more we are exposed to people or objects, the more we tend to develop more positive feelings toward them.

    Milgram's obedience study.
    Milgram's experiment on obedience involved:
    • Participants that thought they were in an experiment of learning to measure the effect of electrical shock on stimulating memorization. In turn, each participant was designed a 'teacher' and was directed to administer increasing levels of electrical shock to a 'learner' each time the 'learner' gave a wrong answer.
    • A confederate learner who was unseen but heard by participants, and made cries of pain on the simulated receipt of each electrical shock.
    • An 'authority' confederate that directed each 'teacher' to administer increasing levels of electrical shock.

    The majority of the 'teachers' complied with the 'authority'.

    Compare with Zimbardo's prison study.

    Process of chromatic separation and nuclear cell division that produces two daughter cells each identical to the parent cell, through these steps:
    • Interphase: the DNA within the nucleus doubles.
    • Prophase: nuclear membrane dissolves.
    • Metaphase: alignment of chromosomes, still paired.
    • Anaphase: movement apart, no longer paired, thereby doubling the number of chromosomes.
    • Telophase: cell divides in two, each cell building its nucleus and nuclear membrane, resulting in two complete daughter cells that enter the Interphase.
    Thus, each daughter nucleus receives a complete copy of the organism's genome.
    Compare meiosis.

    Mnemonic device.
    A memory strategy in which information is organized or 'tagged' visually or verbally.

    Modified filter model.
    See Filter model (modified).

    Molecular genetics.
    The study of the structure and function of the genes at a molecular level.

    One's beliefs and values that ensure one will keep their obligations to others and behave so as not to interfere with the rights of others.

    Magnetic resonance imaging. Internal imaging method using radio waves to align hydrogen atoms in the blood and magnetic fields to detect and show the resulting energy areas within the brain.

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

    Natural selection.
    Darwin's theory that favorable adaptations to features of the environment allow some members of a species to reproduce more successfully than others.

    Need for achievement (n Ach).
    The hypothesized basic human need of striving for achievement of goals, which can motivate behavior and thinking.

    Need for cognition.
    A person's preference to engage in cognitive activities.

    A nerve cell, the primary cell of the nervous system.

    Organic molecule of a nitrogenous heterocyclic base, a pentose sugar (ribose in RNA; deoxyribose in DNA), and a phosphate.

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

    Acting in response to an order from an authority.

    Object permanence.
    An object continues to exist when out of sight: learning this can be observed in a baby.

    A statement that expresses how someone feels about an issue and what one thinks is true. Compare fact.

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

    Pandemonium model.
    Proposed by Selfridge (1959): letter perception is based on bottom-up feature detection by 'demon' detectors who 'shout' louder the more confident they are, to attract the attention of the demon at the next level of integration.

    A disorder characterized by systematic delusions of persecution and/or grandeur. Arises when one has excess of dopamine in the limbic system and insufficient in the cortex; in a milder form can lead to shyness.

    Partial-report research.
    Demonstrates that the capacity of iconic memory is larger than previously believed.

    Pattern recognition.
    Classification of a stimulus into a known category. Storing general patterns of events

    Peg-word memorization method.
    A memory system in which easy-to-visualize words (in a specific order) are associated with difficult-to-remember words or numbers.

    Molecule formed from liking amino acids; a small protein of fewer than 50 amino acids.

    Peptide bond.
    Amide bond. Shorter than C-N because of C=O.

    Interpretation of a stimulus; recognition of an external object that produced a sensation. Contrast with sensation.
    One of the cognitive processes.
    The others are:

    Peripheral nervous system (PNS).
    Nerves and neurons outside the CNS.
    PNS serves limbs and organs, including the somatic nervous system and the autonomic nervous system.
    The spinal and cranial nerves that connect one's sensory receptors to one's CNS and one's CNS to one's muscles and glands.

    Repetition (to an unusual degree) of an activity or a mental state. Spontaneous reoccurrence in the mind of the same idea, tune, phrase, etc.

    Positron Emission Tomography, a kind of magnetic resonance imaging. Internal imaging method using gamma rays emitted from inject radio-isotopes (reaches brain in 30 seconds) to obtain of images of activity in the living brain. Measures blood flow or metabolic activity, localized in specific brain areas as assigned tasks are performed. Expensive equipment. Time averaging, so resolution can be poor.

    Observable characteristics of an organism (arise from interaction of an organism's genotype and environment).
    Compare with genotype.

    Peripheral nervous system (q.v.)

    A single linear chain of amino acid.

    An unjustified negative attitude toward people because they are members of a specific social group. This is a learned attitude toward a target, which is sometimes a person and sometimes a thing. The attitude includes dislike or fear together with stereotypes (negative beliefs) to 'justify' the attitude. The result is behavior (acted or intended) that avoids or controls or destroys the target person or thing.

    Steps to reduce prejudice include: increased contact and cooperative projects.

    See also Gordon Alport's The Nature of Prejudice.

    Primacy effect.
    The first information received tends to carry more weight than later information on an overall impression. Contrast with recency effect. Primacy and recency effects can be manipulated independently, which indicates at least two types of memory are at work.

    Priming effects.
    Recently used memories are easier to activate.

    Problem solving.
    One of the cognitive processes.
    The others are:

    One's attribution to another person or group of one's own undesired impulses.

    Single-celled organism without nucleus.
    e.g., a bacterium.

    Contrast eukaryote.

    Face blindness, a problem with face recognition.

    A complete organic compound of hundreds of amino acids joined by peptide bonds. Enzymes or subunits of enzymes.

    An idealized representation of a class of objects. e.g. the most 'tree-like' tree.

    Based on similarity of objects. May fail to distinguish finely where there is overlap.

    Used in retrieval for a familiar object. Compare with exemplar, used in retrieval for an unfamiliar object.

    Prototype matching.
    • Does not require an exact match to a pattern.
    • Prototype is recognized fast. e.g. robin is closer to the prototype for bird, and is named faster and recognized faster.
    • Readily matches similar objects.
    • Readily matches partially hidden objects (when they have enough features for the prototype).

    Compare with: template matching and feature analysis:

    Proximity (law of).
    A Gestalt law or rule that the nearest (most proximal) elements are grouped together.

    Personality (and other psychological) theory that describes and explains one's course in life.

    The scientific study of behavior and mental processes.

    Public self-awareness.
    When one is aware of one's public self.

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

    The cognitive reframing of perceptions to protect the ego.

    Reaction Formation.
    The conversion to its opposite of a wish or impulse perceived as dangerous.

    Determination of something you have in memory.

    Recency effect.
    The last information received tends to carry greater weight than earlier information. Contrast with primacy effect. Primacy and recency effects can be manipulated independently, which indicates that at least two types of memory are at work.

    Seeing something as familiar or experienced before.
    One of the cognitive processes.
    The others are:

    Recovered memory.
    Autobiographic memory, usually of a traumatic event, that is not accessible for months or years and then becomes accessible later. Compare false memory.

    Rehearsal (Memory).
    Mental repetition of information, to keep the memory in STM. In the computer-science metaphor, this is analogous to the display of information on a screen.
    One of the general memory processes, which include:

    Research methods.
    In cognitive psychology, specially useful techniques are:
    • Naturalistic observations: watch people in everyday contexts going about their familiar, cognitive business. This has the advantage of ecological validity, that what is studied occurs in the real world not just artificially in a laboratory. Lacks experimental control.
    • Introspection.
    • Controlled observations: standardize the setting; manipulate particular conditions.
    • Clinical interviews: follow a path that depends on each individual's responses.

    • Avoidance: diffusion of responsibility.
    • Social loafing: an individual works slower so that the group shoulders his load.
    • Bystander apathy unless one: (1) perceives the need to help; (2) decides to take responsibility; (3) weighs the cost of helping; (4) knows how to help.

    Retinal image.
    Size depends on the distance between perceiver and perceived object.

    Retrieval (Memory).
    The process of finding stored information so that it can be used.
    Movement of memory from LTM to STM.
    One of the general memory processes, which include:

    Retrieval cue.
    The retrieval-cue explanation of interference says that you are more likely to forget where you parked your car in a parking lot where you have parked frequently but in many different spaces.

    Retroactive interference.
    Some past memory is interfered with by a more recent memory.

    Retrograde amnesia.
    A type of amnesia in which the ability to remember previously formed memories is lost. Occurs after a brain disruption if the material from before the disruption is difficult to remember. Compare anterograde amnesia.

    Intermediary between genes and proteins.
    Some RNA molecules are the end product, e.g. ribozymes.
    Some are "interfering" RNA with a regulatory role.

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

    An organized system of beliefs about some stimulus object. A schema is based on experience and guides how one processes new information.

    Genetic connection, but 90% of the people with schizophrenia do NOT have a parent with the same disorder. Associated with large lateral ventricles, small enterior temporal lobes, and lower activity in the frontal lobes. Can arise from brain damage.
    Has been treated with Chlorpromazine (D1, D2), Haliperidol (D2), or Clozapine (D4).

    Selection of information.
    Choice of sensory memory that enters STM.

    Self-affirmation theory.
    Predicts a person often copes with a specific threat to self-esteem by affirming (reminding oneself of) unrelated and cherished aspects of one's self-concept.

    Self awareness.
    The top level of consciousness. One is aware of oneself as an object of one's own attention and autobiography.

    If someone is made self-aware the correlation of actions an beliefs increases. E.g. a mirror over an unattended bowl of Halloween candy reduced the kids that took more than the one piece from 34% to 12%.

    One's thoughts and feelings by which one defines and identifies oneself. One's mental model of one's attributes and abilities.

    Habitual self awareness.

    Self-discrepancy theory.
    A theory that one experiences strong negative emotions when one perceives discrepancy between one's desired self-concept and one's sense of one's actual self. Self esteem is higher when these are consonant.

    Conflict between the actual self and:

    • The ideal self can lead to depression.
    • The image one wants to project can lead to anxiety.

    Self esteem.
    One's self-evaluation of one's self-concept.

    Self-serving bias.
    One of various attributional biases where one takes credit for one's success (assigns "an internal locus of causality" for each positive outcome) and denies responsibility for one's failure. (assigns "an external locus of causality" for each negative outcome).

    Semantic encoding.
    • Craik and Lockhart and other Levels of Processing theorists believe that semantic encoding involves deeper processing than semantic encoding.
    • Research on false positive memory errors show that people tend to do semantic encoding of information automatically; they tend to augment the actual information.
    • Experiments that measure clustering and the non-verbal response of reaction time support the hypothesis that we do semantic coding.
    • Involves the deepest processing of stimulus information (deeper than visual, acoustic, and tactile).

    Semantic memory.
    Generic, categorical knowledge of the world; knowledge of facts and how they relate to each other; includes the meaning of words and concepts, the nature and use of tools, how society functions, math skills, the names of the months, etc.

    Contrast episodic memory.

    Consciousness that results from stimulation of a sense organ (hearing, sight, smell, taste, touch) or from the recognition of an emotion (such as the sensation of delight). Contrast with perception.

    Sensory memory.
    Initial memory processes that preserving the fugitive impressions of sensory stimuli. Initial storage of information within the senses; held fleetingly; occurs while incoming messages are being transmitted to the brain. Very large capacity; duration 15 seconds to 4 minutes.

    Sensory storage.
    That part of memory:
    1. Initial memory; holds fleeting impressions of sensory stimuli.
    2. Holds more information than is held by working memory.
    3. Can't hold information as long as it's held by working memory.

    Serial Position Effect.
    A person's recall of the earliest and the latest items in a list appears better than her recall of the middle items. Example: kids often learn to recite 'A-B-C' and 'X-Y-Z' earlier than the rest of the letters.
    • First words are remembered better because they are processed into LTM without as much interference as later words received.
    • Last words are remembered better because they are in STM (saved there by maintenance rehearsal).

    SES: Socio-Economic Status.
    In the USA this tends to be a euphemism for 'class'.

    Sexual harassment .
    Unwelcome physical or verbal sexual approaches that the recipient finds intimidating, hostile, or offensive or that create such a social environment.

    A behavioral method that reinforces responses that successive approximations, tending to ultimately match the desired response.

    Short-term memory (STM).
    Memory processes that use information, but store it for only a few seconds. The working memory containing things the person is thinking about, selecting and processing ongoing information. Capacity about 7 items. Compare with long-term memory (LTM).
    • Studies with the Brown-Peterson procedure show that information that was in short-term memory is lost after 18-20 seconds (without rehearsal).
    • Often a search of short-term memory appears to be serial and exhaustive.
    • Information in short-term memory usually gets lost by decay and interference: some decay is essential to avoid catastrophic proactive interference.
    • Prior knowledge lets you hold more information in short-term memory by chunking.

    Inhibited social interaction due to discomfort or inhibition in interpersonal situations; interferes with one's pursuit of interpersonal or professional goals. Arises from too much dopamine in the limbic system and not enough in the cortex, which can also lead to paranoia.

    (law of).
    A Gestalt law or rule that one tends to group together the most similar elements.

    Sleeper effect .
    The delayed persuasive of a message from a noncredible source.

    Slow Consolidation.
    Occurs in many areas of the cortex.

    Social anxiety.
    Unpleasant emotion one can experience due to one's concern with interpersonal evaluation in a social setting.

    Social dilemma.
    Any situation in which the most rewarding short-term choice for an individual will ultimately cause negative consequences for the group as a whole.

    Social loafing.
    Reduction in individual output when one is in a group and one's efforts are pooled, so that they cannot be individually judged.

    Social roles.
    Social positions governed by social norms. Socially defined patterns that individuals in a given situation are expected to follow.

    Social cognition.
    How the social environment influences thought, perception, and belief:

    Stack method (mnemonic).
    Imagine the first thing on the ground. Imagine the second thing as if it's placed or stacked on top of the first thing and interacting with it. And so on.

    Spotlight effect.
    People overestimate how much others think about them.

    State-dependent memory.
    Memory connected to a state of emotional arousal.
    Memory recall is more effective for events when their associated emotion matches the person's current emotional state. Example: when depressed a person more readily remembers sad events of her life.

    State-dependent-learning effects and context effects occur only for recall tests (and not for recognition tests or for paired-associate tests).

    A rigid way of thinking about people, putting them into categories without allowance for individual variation.
    A set of expectations that the members of a social category share a common trait or characteristic. Typically based on faulty or incomplete data and therefore wrong. Stereotypes:
    • Tend to be simple.
    • Are guides to behavior.
    • Often get activated automatically, especially by superficial physical characteristics such as sex, age, and race.
    • Are activated by the categories triggered by the prominent or differentiating salient features. Such a feature draws one's attention and that kind of idea gets primed.
    • Often are chronically accessible. A bigot routinely uses qualities of race that are for him/her accessible chronically.

    Storage (Memory).
    Retention of information for some time (ranging from a fraction of a second to decades).
    Movement of memory from STM to LTM.
    One of the general memory processes, which include:

    The pattern of responses (specific and nonspecific) one makes to stimulus events that disturb one's equilibrium or tax or exceed its ability to cope. Too much stress in children can create permanently low levels of serotonin and high levels of norephinephrine create a potential of violent behavior.

    The tendency to emphasize structure. Cognitive structures are basic units of thought, and include: concept, prototype, exemplar. Thoughts are produced by combining sensations and perceptions. Structuralism views all human mental experience as a combination of simple elements, and posits that the underlying structure of the human mind are revealed by analysis of the basic elements of sensation. After Wilhem Wundt.

    Subconscious awareness.
    The mental processing of information not currently in consciousness working memory and not available from long term memory by customary recall. An example is when one's mind works in 'background' on a puzzle of a personal or professional nature, and presents the solution as a sudden insight or 'ah-ha' moment.

    Supervisory Attentional System (SAS).
    Norman and Shallice's Model is intuitively appealing:
    • SAS plans, organizes, and controls actions.
    • SAS model:
      • Procedures can be automatic.
      • Automatic procedure can be prioritized.
      • Procedures can get controlled processing, which is SAS.
    • Tested by Wisconsin Card Sorting: participants sort cards by color or number or shape; rules are switched; perseverative errors are common.
    • SAS explains:

    Symbolic Reasoning.
    The cognitive ability to connect concepts and manipulate them mentally.

    Supervisory attentional system.
    Devised by Norman and Shallice. Explains 'action slips'.

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


    Template matching.
    • Detect stimulus configurations and match them to patterns stored in LTM.
    • If several templates are close to matching, do further processing to find the best fit.


    • Would need an impossibly large number of templates for 20,000 common objects and their multitude of brands and models.
    • How do we explain how a new template is created for a new stimulus?
    • How do we explain how we recognize incomplete patterns such as partially hidden objects?



    Top-down processing.
    One's expectations guide the selection and combination of information. We use prior knowledge to organize data from the senses. Expectations (due to prior experiences) trigger interpretation of ambiguous stimuli.

    A relatively stable attribute of an individual; differs between individuals.

    Occurs in psychoanalysis if one attaches to a therapist some feeling(s) that one held toward a significant person of a past emotional conflict.

  20. Unipolar.
    Mania episodes. Twice as common in women as in men; more common for married women; less common for married men.
    On average seven episodes per lifetime for a unipolar person. Compare with bipolar.

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

    Verbatim memory.
    Reproduction of the detailed memory. Compare with gist memory.

    Visual agnosia.
    Impairment of ability to interpret or make sense of but not to see visual information. Thus it is a problem of perception not sensation.

    Visual memory.
    Can hold information for up to half a second. Contrast acoustic memory.

    Visual perception.
    A person with damage to the right parietal lobe cannot pay attention to objects on the opposite (left) side of the visual stage.

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

    Word association.
    A memory method in which verbal associations are created for items to be learned. e.g. 'homes' for the Great Lakes. e.g. create a story that links the words to remember can let one remember six times as much.

    Word superiority effect.
    The context of words influences the recognition of letters.

    Identify a letter more quickly and accurately if it appears within a word.

    Connectionist theories explain this effect:

    • Network exist that connect related units of information.
    • One sees fragments of features in a word.
    • Detecting these features activates some letter units
    • The letter units activate a word unit (a combination of letters).
    • The activated word unit activates all the letters in that word.

    Connectionist explanation is debated and unproved. Alternate explanations are that the memory has been primed or is currently active.

    Experiment: participants were given identical text with ambiguous information on Rasputin, except that his date of birth was manipulated; half of the participants were shown the text with their (month-day) birth-date and they 'like' Rasputin; half were controls, given text where Rasputin's birthday was not altered to match theirs, and their response was 'mixed'. Having something in common increases liking.

    Working memory.
    That part of memory:
    1. Accomplishes immediate tasks of reasoning and language comprehension.
    2. Has the phonological loop, visuo-spatial sketch pad, and central executive.
    3. Holds less information than is held by sensory storage.
    4. Holds information for longer than it's held by sensory storage.

    The different working-memory systems work independently unless they are too heavily loaded.

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

    Yerkes-Dodson law.
    Correlation of task performance with optimal level of arousal.

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

    Zimbardo's prison study.
    In 1971, Dr. Philip Zimbardo assigned 18 Stanford students to 'guard' or 'prisoner' roles. Their behavior reflected their assigned role and the experiment was discontinued for the safety (physical as well as mental) of the students in the 'prisoner' roles. In 1971, a psychologist divided 18 student volunteers into 'guards' and 'prisoners'. Within six days the guards' behavior had become so brutal (particularly at night when they thought they were unobserved) that the experiment had to be stopped. Zimbardo was cited by The Guardian (Emma Brockes on Tuesday October 16, 2001, at,9837,575022,00.html) as saying:
    It wasn't until much later that I realized how far into my prison role I was, that I was thinking like a prison superintendent rather than a research psychologist. [For example] less than 36 hours into the experiment, Prisoner no 8612 began suffering from acute emotional disturbance, disorganized thinking, uncontrollable crying, and rage. In spite of all of this, we had already come to think so much like prison authorities that we thought he was trying to con us — to fool us into releasing him.

    Compare with

    Milgram's obedience study.