The Brain

The Brain

Cognitive Psy

  • Is the branch of psychology that studies mental processes including how people think, perceive, remember and learn
  • Related to other disciplines including neuroscience, philosophy and linguistics
  • Core focus of cognitive psychology is on how people acquire, process and store information
  • Practical applications for cognitive research, such as improving memory, increasing decision-making accuracy and structuring educational curricula to enhance learning
  • Between 1950 and 1970, the tide began to shift against behavioral psychology to focus on topics such as attention, memory and problem-solving ( Now referred to as cognitive psychology)
  • First used in 1967 by American psychologist Ulric Neisser
  • According to Neisser, cognition involves "all processes by which the sensory input is transformed, reduced, elaborated, stored, recovered, and used

Different from


  • Which focuses only on observable behaviors, cognitive psychology is concerned with internal mental states.


  • Which relies heavily on subjective perceptions, cognitive psychology uses scientific research methods to study mental processes.

Who should study this

  • Students interested in behavioral neuroscience, linguistics, industrial-organizational psychology, artificial intelligence and other related areas
  • Teachers, educators and curriculum designers can benefit by learning more about how people process, learn, and remember information
  • Engineers, scientists, artists, architects and designers can all benefit from understanding internal mental states and processes.

Important areas

  • Perception
  • Language ( will go into further detail when talking about Chomsky)
  • Attention
  • Memory
  • Problem-Solving
  • Decision-Making and Judgment
  • Intelligence

Important People in Cognitive Psy

  • Gustav Fechner (His book contains his first explicit, philosophical treatment of the problem of the relationship of mind to body )
  • Wilhelm Wundt ( Believed in Introspection of the Mind)
  • Edward B. Titchener (belief that all consciousness was capable of being reduced to three states: sensations, which are the basic elements of perception; images, which are the pictures formed in our minds to characterize what is perceived; and affections, which are the constituents of emotions, also a follower of Wilhelm Wundt)
  • Hermann Ebbinghaus (study higher mental processes and examine these processes that were neglected by Wundt, also studied forgetfulness)
  • William James (Studied Functionalism, which is the adaption of living persons to their environment, I.E. We run because we are afraid)
  • Wolfgang Kohler  (characterization of problem solving, Introspection, Famous study was of Sultan an Ape that had a predicament of getting a banana outside of his cage with 2 sticks)
  • Edward Tolman (He believed that rats used a cognitive map in order to complete the maze instead of memorization)
  • Noam Chomsky (showed that language was much more complex than anyone previously believed and that behavioral explanations could not reasonably explain the complexities of language)
  • David Rumelhart and James McClelland (information processing happens simultaneously (parallel) as opposed to serially (one at a time))

A baby’s brain

  • Only four weeks into gestation the first brain cells, the neurons, are already forming at an astonishing rate: 250,000 every minute. Billions of neurons will forge links with billions of other neurons and eventually there will be trillions and trillions of connections between cells. Every cell is precisely in its place, every link between neurons carefully organized. Nothing is random, nothing arbitrary.
  • A newborn is introduced to the world is through vision
  • The eyes and the visual cortex of an infant continue to develop after birth according to how much stimulation she can handle
  • Our brains are more open to the shaping hand of experience than at any time in our lives

A child’s brain

  • A child learns to crawl, then walk, run and explore. A child learns to reason, to pay attention, to remember, but nowhere is learning more dramatic than in the way a child learns language
  • In nearly all adults, the language center of the brain resides in the left hemisphere, but in children the brain is less specialized. Scientists have demonstrated that until babies become about a year old, they respond to language with their entire brains, but then, gradually, language shifts to the left hemisphere, driven by the acquisition of language itself

Teenagers Brain

  • As the brain begins teeming with hormones, the prefrontal cortex, the center of reasoning and impulse control, is still a work in progress

Adults brain

  • The adult brain is the apotheosis of the human intellect, but what of emotion? The study of emotion was once relegated to the backwaters of neuroscience, a testament to the popular conception that what we feel exists outside our brains, acting only to intrude on normal thought
  • The science has changed: Emotion is now considered integral to our over-all mental health. In mapping our emotions, scientists have found that our emotional brain overlays our thinking brain: The two exist forever intertwined.

Short Term memory ( working memory)

  • Holding onto a number such as a telephone number is a good example of short term memory, which is a way to accomplish something that you have planned to do
  • Perhaps the most extreme example of short-term memory is a chess master who can explore several possible solutions mentally before choosing the one that will lead to checkmate.
  • This ability to hold on to a piece of information temporarily in order to complete a task is specifically human
  • It causes certain regions of the brain to become very active, in particular the pre-frontal lobe.

Frontal Lobe

  • This region, at the very front of the brain, is highly developed in humans.
  •  It is the reason that we have such high, upright foreheads, compared with the receding foreheads of our cousins the apes.
  • Hence it is no surprise that the part of the brain that seems most active during one of the most human of activities is located precisely in this prefrontal region that is well developed only in human beings.

Long term Memory

  • Information is transferred from short-term memory (also known as working memory) to long-term memory through the hippocampus, so named because its shape resembles the curved tail of a seahorse
  • The hippocampus is a bit like a sorting center where these new sensations are compared with previously recorded ones
  • When new information is learned we are actually processing the information through the hippocampus several times
  • The hippocampus keeps strengthening the associations among these new elements until, after a while, it no longer needs to do so. The cortex will have learned to associate these various properties itself to reconstruct what we call a memory.
  • Unlimited capacity to retain information over an extended time

Short and Long term memory

  • Are composed of three processes: encoding, storage, and retrieval
  • These processes take place in various locations in the brain, often simultaneously
  • Note: It is unclear where long-term memories are stored, although there is some evidence that a single memory may be broken down into various elements and stored in many places at once.

Pre-frontal cortex

  • Site of Working Memory
  • Experiments using PET scans and functional MRI on primates, coupled with observations of human brain injuries, point to the fact that "the prefrontal cortex always seems to be "busy" when target information is kept "in mind“
  • Short-term memories are formed by brief changes in synaptic transmissions

Parts of the Brain

  • Occipital lobe (are positioned at the back region of the cerebral cortex and are the main centers for visual processing)
  • Temporal lobe (temporal lobes play an important role in organizing sensory input, auditory perception, language and speech production, as well as memory association and formation)
  • Parietal Lobe ( which can be divided into 2 areas : One involves sensation and perception and the other is concerned with integrating sensory input, primarily with the visual system)
  • Primary Motor Cortex (All of the body's voluntary movements are controlled by the brain)
  • Olfactory Bulb  (Relays Sensory Signals to the Olfactory Tract ;Sense of Smell)
  • Cerebral Cortex (often referred to as gray matter; is gray because nerves in this area lack the insulation that makes most other parts of the brain appear to be white, most developed area responsible for thinking, perceiving, producing and understanding language) This is the WHOLE BRAIN
  • Cerebellum (In Latin, the word cerebellum means little brain, area of the hindbrain that controls motor movement coordination, balance, equilibrium and muscle tone
  • Brain Stem ( Connects Cerebellum to spinal cord, controls, Alertness,Arousal,Breathing ,Blood Pressure ,Digestion ,Heart Rate ,Other Autonomic Functions as well as relays Information between the Peripheral Nerves and Spinal Cord to the upper parts of the Brain
  • Primary Somatosensory Cortex (activated when the skin is touched. However, the body is NOT represented in the cortex in proportion to the amount of skin)
  • Wernicke's Area (Wernicke's area is the region of the brain that is important in language development. The Wernicke's Area is located on the temporal lobe on the left side of the brain and is responsible for the comprehension of speech, Language development or usage can be seriously impaired by damage to the Wernicke's Area.
  • Boca's Area  (This brain area controls motor functions involved with speech production. As well as Speech Production ,Facial Neuron Control, Language Processing)

Videos of interest

  • How Memory Works
  • Learning and Memory , how it works
  • Understanding memory
  • Brain Anatomy and Functions