Introduction to Cognitive Psychology

In this module, you will complete a lab that demonstrates the importance of research in cognitive psychology and the way in which individual differences influence a study’s results. You will also introduce yourself to your classmates and choose an area of interest on which to focus your final project. Your instructor and classmates will give you feedback on that topic to help you refine it, and assignments in future modules will guide you through foundational work for your final paper and presentation.

Your final project requires you to look at research surrounding one of several topics in the field of cognitive psychology, identify a gap in the current research on this topic, and create your own study to address this gap. You will study perception, attention, neurocognition, memory, speech and language, problem solving, and judgment/reason/decision making. You touched on many of these topics in PSY 108 and in your other psychology courses. The Course Overview and Final Project Topic Ideas document provided in this module summarizes some of the topics this course covers and provides some related references to get you started.

For this discussion, think about your previous classes and read through the final project ideas. Consider how you see these topics applied in everyday life, as well as any news stories about research studies and technological breakthroughs.

Next, in your initial post, address the following:

  • Which of these topics and ideas interests you the most as a potential subject for your final paper?
  • Share your topic and explain why it interests you and how the provided references fit in.

Respond to two of your peers, sharing your thoughts on their chosen topics. Do you think their topics make sense? Why or why not? You may also share suggestions on how to clarify or refine the topic, or approach it in a different way. Feel free to provide an appropriate resource to support your suggestions.

In PSY 108, you learned about old beliefs on left brain/right brain function, and current knowledge on how the two parts of the brain function separately and work together.

After reading Chapter 2 of your text, and watching Split Brain Behavioral Experiment, address the following questions in your initial discussion post:

  • How did the video influence your thoughts about the topic of left brain/right brain?
  • What would your reaction be to a person’s claim that they are right-brained or left-brained? In other words, is hemispheric specialization absolute or relative (feel free to also search the internet to get your answer to this)?
  • Did the results of the studies depicted in the video surprise you? Why or why not?

Keep in mind that right-handed males are most likely to show cerebral asymmetry, especially for language. Differences are not as common in right-handed females or left-handed people of either sex.

Complete the Visual Search lab using the link within this module. When you complete this lab, you will see whether you fall into the majority or whether your performance beats the odds. When you complete this lab, see whether your performance matches the pattern of results predicted. The predicted results always show up when you receive the report of your individual results. Consider whether your reaction time goes up with the number of distractors in the feature versus conjunction conditions.

Share your results with your fellow students and give an example of how this concept applies in real life. It is important to learn concepts and see them demonstrated in an experimental environment, but the true test is being able to identify real-life examples.

This lab activity, which will take approximately 25 minutes to complete, will further assist you as you prepare your research question identification for this module’s Milestone Two discussion.

Complete the Visual Search lab and share your results here. Also, in your initial post, address the following:

  • Were your results follow the pattern predicted? Why or why not?
  • Explain why such research is valuable, and give an example of how it applies in real life.

First, read Chapter 4 from your textbook. Next, complete the Stroop Effect lab. In your initial post to the discussion topic, share your personal experience with the experiment. Address the following:

  • Did your results surprise you? Why or why not?
  • Briefly explain what the Stroop effect illustrates about task-irrelevant stimuli, and make up your own simple experiment that would demonstrate the same type of effect.

In responding to two of your classmates’ posts, let them know whether or not you relate to their feelings about their results. Do you think they came up with a good experiment? Why or why not?

In Chapter 5 you learned about short-term memory, and in Chapter 11 about the concepts of coherence and connection. Think about how these concepts, in relation to short-term memory, apply to movies or books you have seen or read lately. Think of a movie or book that was easy to understand because one thing seemed to follow another. Then think of a book or movie that was hard to understand because things were left out.

In your initial discussion post, briefly explain how coherence/connection were used in the easy-to-understand movie or book to make things easy to follow, and how/why the difficult movie or book was harder to follow.

In responding to at least two of your classmates, comment on their choices and whether you agree with their assessments and applications of the coherence/connection principles. Explain why or why not. Cite from the chapter readings to support your answer.

Chapter 6 discussed these movies and other examples of films in which memory loss is portrayed inaccurately. Using the concepts you learned in Chapters 6, 7, and 8, think of a similar example from a novel you have read or a movie you have seen. Be sure your example is one not cited in the textbook.

In your initial post, briefly describe how your chosen novel or movie portrays memory loss, and explain how the portrayal differs from reality, incorporating specific material from the chapters.

In responding to two of your peers, share your thoughts on their examples. Did they point out legitimate problems with the portrayal of memory loss in their chosen novel or movie? Do you see any other inaccuracies they missed, or other ways in which a real-life person would react differently than the fictional characters?

In Chapter 12, you learned about the concept of functional fixedness and how it gets in the way of creativity. The candle puzzle presented in the textbook was a great example of how stepping away from functional fixedness leads to more innovative ways to solve problems.

Consider the chapter material on functional fixedness and read the article The Cognitive Bias Keeping Us From Innovating, which explores how this concept prevents companies from coming up with innovations. Then, think of a time when you used creativity to solve a problem that involved using objects in ways outside of how they are standardly used, and describe it in your initial post. What was the problem? How, exactly, did you solve it, and what inspired your creative solution?

As an alternative to sharing a personal example, think of a problem faced by a major business and share your specific idea(s) on how it could be resolved by thinking outside of the box.

Respond to two of your classmates, sharing your thoughts on their solutions and other ideas on how they might have solved the personal or business problems they used in their posts.

This week, we explore the old question of “What do you want to be when you grow up?”—but with a twist. Module Eight covers decision making, and choosing an initial or alternate career is one of the biggest decisions you will ever make.

You are already a grown-up, whether you are in early adulthood or a later phase of life, and you are pursuing a psychology degree, so we will look at some options within the realm of cognitive psychology.

For this journal task, first explore the SNHU Career Development Center, the Psychologists: Occupational Outlook Handbook from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) on psychologists, and the cognitive psychology career-related links accessed from the webpage, A Career in Brain Science and Cognitive Psychology, of the American Psychological Association (APA).

Next, share your thoughts on these career-specific links and write a journal that addresses the following:

  • Can you envision yourself in a cognitive-psychology related career? If yes, what would it be, and why would you like to pursue it? If no, how does cognitive psychology relate to your current or future career?
  • What services offered by the Career Development Center would be most useful to you, and why?
  • Have the things you learned in this course influenced your potential career choices? How?

Refer to your experiences in this course and cite from the links, where appropriate, to support your answers.

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