Psycholinguistics & Neurolinguistics

What is cognitive?

Cognitive psychology

What is cognitive?

The word cognitive comes from the Latin cognoscere,  which means knowing . Thus, both cognitive psychology and cognitive processes refer to the ability to know through the senses and the reason that all individuals possess

The term cognitive is used to refer to everything that is related to cognition . Cognition is the set of processes and mechanisms that allow the individual to process certain information, either through the senses or the experience, although both are usually required.

Cognitive psychology


Cognitive psychology is the branch of psychology that is responsible for the different forms of knowledge ; how these are produced and what are the factors that influence the process, among many other areas.

Among the main interests of cognitive psychology are memory and perception , both of which are closely related to the learning itself.

He had strong influences from different branches of psychology, mainly from the Behavioral School, from whom he takes much of his concepts but reformulated. As for his ideas of perception and memory, we can notice a strong imprint of the Gestalt School , which specialized in perception as a phenomenon of interest to psychology. He was also strongly influenced by linguistics, and to a lesser extent by other areas of the humanistic sciences.

The interest of cognitive psychology is unfolded: on the one hand we have the subject that knows, and on the other hand what that same subject does with the information. This seems to divide the subject into two:

  • Passive subject , who faces the world and receives information, through the senses and experience;
  • Active subject  , which processes this information and then be re-elaborated under the structural and cognitive frameworks of each individual.

These cognitive structural characteristics that we all possess have an inherited character; It is at this point that we find a strong positivist imprint.

Exponents of cognitive theory

Among his main figures are Noam Chomsky, considered one of the greatest linguists of the twentieth century , still valid, Norber Weiner, considered one of the first to radically deepen the cybernetic metaphor and Von Bertanlaffy, among many others. It is considered the paradigm of current psychology, with many reformulations and variations throughout its short but more than vast history.

Origins and differences with behaviorism

Cognitive psychology found its emergence after World War II , to have its peak during the seventies and continue in force today. As we said before, one of the main influences of the cognitive was behaviorism, although we found some differences between them.

As a first step, it would be convenient to expose the axis that articulates the entire cognitive theory: the computational metaphor . This is mainly due to the emergence of computers and the fascination that this generated worldwide.

According to the defenders of the cognitive current, there are deep similarities between the functioning of the mind and a computer : both process information, input (output) or output (output) in the form of symbols. The mathematics appears as the language under which our mind is structured like a computer.

However, as we said previously, there are differences with behaviorism .

  • Among them the computational metaphor complicates the classic stimulus-response model , so classic in behaviorism.
  • On the other hand, at an epistemological level we can affirm that behaviorism has strong empiricist roots (of a rather classical nature), and as such they defend the inductive position.
  • Cognitive psychologists were strongly driven by rationalism, both for denying mental explanations (something that behaviorists admit), and for their rejection of classical induction. A crucial difference with behaviorism is that psychological phenomena are no longer observable in themselves, but are the manifestation of internal cognitive processes to the subject.
  1. What is cognitive development?

When we talk about cognitive development, we refer to the various stages that consolidate the innate capacity of human beings to think , reason and use their mental tools. It is a gradual process, which has its beginnings in early childhood, and that motivates the individual’s desire to understand their environment and integrate into society .

Scholars of this process separate and delimit their progressive stages , in order to understand at what point in life certain mental skills are acquired . This involves, of course, the objective conditions (physical, social, emotional) in which the individual develops. This specific growth of abilities is known as  cognitive learning .

In describing these stages, various scholars such as Jean Piaget, Toldan, Gestalt and Bandura have proposed their approaches to a scientific system that understands them. The best known perhaps is the  Theory of cognitive development  of the Swiss Piaget, which serves as the basis for various educational approaches focused on the enrichment of children’s experience or “open education.”

Piaget’s theories contributed not only in this field, but also in the understanding of human intelligence, learning and the various forms of thinking .

Weaknesses of cognitive theory

Cognitive theory proved to have several weaknesses.

  • Among them we find their innatist character, a point strongly debated by ethology, by demonstrating that not all behavior is acquired.
  • On the other hand, we notice the clearly behavioral limitation of reducing psychology to mere cognitive phenomena. This has serious consequences, since it totally ignores any subjective characteristic of the individual, such as passions, emotions, among many others.


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