Cognitive Psychology is a sub branch of psychology which studies the acquiring, retention, interpretation and implementation of knowledge. In other words it studies human cognition. All our mental capabilities which are, perceive, learning, remembering, thinking, reasoning, and understanding fall under the structure of Cognitive Psychology. The word cognition is derived from the Latin word “Cognoscere” which means “to know”. Cognitive Psychology is closely interrelated to Cognitive science, Anthropology, Philosophy, Linguistic and Neuroscience.
The term ‘Cognitive Psychology’ was coined by Ulric Neisser in his 1965 book by the same name. Musing over the state of learning and though-action perception is ongoing since the time of Plato who is known to have suggested that brain is the seat of the metal process. René Descartes in 1637 suggested the existence of Innate Ideas.
The mental processes which affect behaviour are the chief focus of Cognitive Psychologists. Experiments have been carried out to further study the cognitive psychology and promising results continue to out pour.
The key areas of focus in Cognitive Psychology are:
- Attention – “A state of focused awareness on a subset of the available perceptual information” is the psychological definition of attention. Attention allows us to eradicate the unwanted pieces of information which we don’t want to keep. It also helps us to retain the important piece of information relevant at that particular point of time.
- Memory – Memory is the function of brain which helps us to retain information in our brain’s hard-disk for future use. Modern science breaks memory into three sub-categories according to the level of conscious through involved in each.
- Procedural Memory: it is the first break up of Memory psychology. It requires least amount of conscious effort and is based on stimulus-response. The actions which are seemingly ‘automatic’ in nature are actually a result of procedural memory.
- Semantic Memory: It is the encyclopaedic knowledge a person possess, like the name of a friend from 8th grade and what the Statue of liberty looks like. It requires slight to extreme amount of effort depending upon various other factors like, time when the memory was encoded, how frequently it is revived and the level of attachment are some of the factors which affect the retention and revival of semantic memory.
- Episodic memory: it is the type of memory which is related to a particular episode. Alternatively, it is the memory of autobiographical things which can be expressed. Episodic memories are necessarily temporal in nature. Memories such as when did you adopt a dog, or where were you when the accident happen, fall into this category.
- Perception – Perception is the link between our senses and how we remember the world using those senses. Basically, this is how we come to understand the world around us, by the interpretation of stimuli. Current studies in cognitive psychology focus on interpretation of stimuli by the mind and who it affects our behaviour.
- Language – cognitive psychologists from a time which dates back to 1870 are involved in the study of how a human gains the knowledge of a language and how it affects his behaviour. Various researches all around the world show a relevant development in the studies related to language.