The fields relevant to this overview are a part of the interdisciplinary studies of cognitive science, which includes anthropology, cognitive psychology, developmental psychology, psycholinguistics, artificial intelligence and computational science, and neuroscience. Each of these disciplines provides an important and unique perspective on how to understand the human psyche. Biological, psychodynamic, and social psychiatry can find a common home and language within cognitive science. The common divisions of nature versus nurture and biology versus psychology disappear when the origins of mental processes are examined.
[...] The cooperative communication of infant-caregiver attachments is thought to provide the building blocks for emotional development as well as for abstract reasoning and cognitive abilities. The patterns of interaction between child and caregiver have a direct impact on the way the brain develops and the mind of the child functions. Thus, cognitive processes need to be considered as the way in which the mind emerges from within the genetic, physiological, and experiential factors that shape the development and maintenance of mental function. [...]
[...] More recent views have considered the concept of general cognitive resource capacity, which limits the stimuli processed. These perspectives have been applied to understanding various psychiatric conditions, such as schizophrenia and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Selective Attention One aspect of attention is that it focuses a metaphorical spotlight on external stimuli or internal mental representations. In Broadbent's conceptualization, selectivity has three dimensions: filtering, focusing on specific attributes (e.g., large squares versus small squares); categorizing, based on stimulus class (e.g., attending to letters in whatever script they are written); and pigeonholing, reducing perceptual information needed to place a stimulus into a specified category (e.g., using only long hair to classify individuals as female). [...]
[...] Thus, complex visual images require more effort and time to rotate in internal and external reality. The ability of the mind to generate mental images is used in various forms of psychotherapy and may also be an important mechanism in the pathological production of hallucinations and illusions seen in several disorders. MEMORY SYSTEMS The neural networks of the brain are capable of responding to experience by the activation of particular patterns of distributed activation. Donald Hebb described a basic principle of memory that has been repeatedly supported by research: “Neurons which fire together, wire together.” Neurons that are activated in a particular pattern at one time will tend to fire together in a similar pattern in the future—this is the essence of memory. [...]
[...] Pupillary dilation is directly proportional to the level of arousal and has been used as a measure of the degree of processing demand for specific cognitive tasks. Sustained Attention The ability to sustain attention is called vigilance and can be tested with task demands for alertness and concentration over a period of a few minutes to an hour. The tests usually involve detection requirements for target stimuli that occur infrequently at random intervals. An example of such a test is the continuous performance test, which has been used to study various psychiatric disorders. [...]
[...] Computational science reveals that the nervous system can function as a parallel and serial process of information. This processing occurs when a symbol, such as a mental representation, causes an effect. Such effects can be seen as subsequent activations of neural net profiles. Information processing becomes even more complex when the effects themselves carry information. Within cognitive psychology, these information-processing events can be seen as the contrasting, comparing, generalizing, chunking, clustering, differentiating, and extracting processes that lead to a more highly interwoven set of mental representations. [...]
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