Cognitive psychology refers to a branch of psychology dealing with the study of mental processes, which includes how human beings acquire, process, and keep the learnt information in their memories for future use (Goldstein, 2007). This field of psychology has a close relationship with other disciplines, such as linguistics, neuroscience, and philosophy. Cognitive psychology has enabled linguists to describe language development in human beings (Goldstein, 2007). This discussion will consider the physical locations of language processing and perception of spoken word, early and late selection theories of attention, mental imagery, mental rotation, mental movement and cognitive maps and abstraction, flashbulb memories, decay theory and interference theory, explicit versus implicit memory, functional fixedness and pattern learning, inductive versus deductive reasoning, as well as bad decision-making in adolescents.
Physical Locations of Language Processing in the Brain and Perception of Spoken Word
The hman brain contains various sections that are essential in language processing and facilitating written and spoken language. The Broca’s area, Wernicke’s area, consisting of the angular gyrus and supramarginal gyrus, and the primary auditory area are some of the areas that support language processing in the brain and facilitate the perception of spoken word (Whitaker, 2010). Most of these sections are active in the left hemisphere of the brain and inactive in the brain’s right hemisphere, which provides evidence that the brain’s left hemisphere supports language processing. Broca’s area plays a significant role in the selection and manipulation of semantic elements. The tongue and mouth’s motor centers are close to the Broca’s area, and they facilitate language production and phonological processing (Whitaker, 2010).
The Wernicke’s area consists of three sections, with the first section responding to various sounds, including the spoken words. The second section responds selectively to the spoken words, especially by another person, but the ability to recall some words can also activate the second section. The third section of the Wernicke’s area has a close association with speech production (Whitaker, 2010). Supramarginal gyrus plays a role in the phonological processing, as well articulation of words. Angular gyrus plays a significant role in the translation of written words to an internal monologue, thereby facilitating semantic processing. The angular gyrus in both the left hemisphere and the brain's right hemisphere are active. Therefore, the brain’s right hemisphere, similar to the left hemisphere, plays a role in semantic processing (Whitaker, 2010).
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The primary auditory area contributes significantly to the perception of spoken word, because it facilitates processing of sound and ability to hear (Whitaker, 2010). Mute and deaf people may have a malfunctioning primary auditory area, but they possess language, because they have brains with similar structures as the brains of other people, who can hear and speak. Sign language can also enable individuals to express their feelings (Whitaker, 2010).
Early and Late Selection Theories of Attention
Attention refers to the cognitive process in which a person concentrates on various environmental aspects at different times (Matthews, 2004). Human beings have limited processing resources, which makes it impossible to concentrate on all environmental aspects at the same time. Various theories, including Treisman’s theory, Broadbent’s theory, and Deutsch and Deutsch’s theory, have been useful in explaining attention in human beings (Matthews, 2004). Early selection theories of attention include Treisman’s theory and Broadbent’s theory, while late selection theories of attention include Deutsch and Deutsch’s theory.
Broadbent’s selection theory of attention, which is among the early selection theories of attention, states that a selective filter blocks the irrelevant stimuli for the relevant stimulus to undergo semantic analysis in the brain (Matthews, 2004). The theoretical filter controls the movement of messages from the sensory register to the short-term memory, which ensures that the short term-memory does not undergo clogging. However, the unattended messages may undergo semantic analysis, after the mind has analyzed the most relevant messages (Matthews, 2004). For instance, when a person encounters two messages, one of which is strange, the person will concentrate on the familiar message and leave the strange message unattended. The person will then repeat the familiar message, after the mind has analyzed it semantically. Treisman’s theory is another selection theory, which is among the early selection theories of attention. This theory states that a person deemphasizes the unattended message that enters the mind with the relevant message. Deemphasizing of the unattended message prevents clogging of the short-term memory (Matthews, 2004).
Deutsch and Deutsch’s theory, which is among the late selection theories of attention, states that almost all the incoming messages in a person’s sensory register reach the same discriminatory and perceptual mechanisms, whether a person attends to the messages or not (Matthews, 2004). The mechanisms then segregate or group the acquired messages according to their characteristics. Some characteristics of the acquired messages excite the discriminatory mechanisms, depending on predetermined weightings of significance (Matthews, 2004). When a discriminatory mechanism outweighs others, it will transfer the weighting to other discriminatory mechanisms that have already classified the messages. Appropriate outputs, such as the motor response, undergo activation by the discriminatory mechanism, which outweighs all others. On the other hand, this discriminatory mechanism inhibits those outputs that have a close association with the discriminatory mechanisms having low weightings (Matthews, 2004).
Mental Imagery, Mental Rotation, Mental Movement and Cognitive Maps and Abstraction
Mental imagery is the process, through which human beings picture events or procedures in their minds (Graf, 2006). The use of mental imagery has helped people conceptualize new ideas due to a reinforced understanding. Mental imagery involves translation of verbal descriptions of new concepts into visual pictures, which improve comprehension (Graf, 2006). A significant factor that supports imagery in human beings is concentration or attention. When people pay attention to various words of a language, they will begin to create mental images that will enable them to understand the new language (Graf, 2006). Therefore, attention and mental imagery enables children or adults to learn a language and speak it fluently.
Mental rotation is a person’s ability to rotate three-dimensional and two-dimensional mental images (Graf, 2006). This ability plays a significant role in language and mathematic processing in deaf individuals. The strategy of mental rotation helps deaf females and males perform well in English and Mathematics tests. Mental rotation is a significant strategy that helps people become attentive (Graf, 2006).
Cognitive maps refer to the entire mental image of a physical object in the spatial environment (Graf, 2006). People develop internal representations of an object, after they have gained an experience of the object. The strategy of cognitive mapping is extremely significant during learning, because a person will conceptualize many ideas. Cognitive mapping improves attention, thereby resulting in the comprehension of an issue, such as a language (Graf, 2006). Teachers use this strategy to encourage vocabulary acquisition among children. Through cognitive mapping, children can chart new words in the interconnected categories. Children can learn numerous vocabularies within a short time with the aid of mental mapping (Graf, 2006).
Flashbulb memories refer to highly detailed, extremely vivid snapshots of the circumstances and moments, in which a person heard emotionally arousing and surprising news (Goldstein, 2007). Some of the emotional arousing events include traumatic moments, such as rape, fire, and assault incidents. When an event that exceeds levels of consequentiality and surprise triggers the mechanism of flashbulb memory, a person experiences permanent mental records of the circumstances and details that surround the experience (Goldstein, 2007). Flashbulb memory increases attention capacity over some issues. The memory can facilitate learning of languages, because individuals can remember a number of vocabularies. The flashbulb memories are accurate and a person cannot forget easily whatever has been learnt. Therefore, flashbulb memory facilitates the development of mental imagery and representation, which enables a person to continue remembering an event for a long time (Goldstein, 2007).
Decay Theory and Interference Theory and Explicit Versus Implicit Memory
Decay theory, or the theory of forgetting, asserts that human beings forget acquired information, because their memories fade with time (Edwards, 2011). Therefore, it is evident that memories are temporary and can fade due to various factors, including extended length of time without revisiting the stored information frequently. Another theory of forgetting is the interference theory, which asserts that interference happens when a person forgets older materials upon learning new materials because the two materials compete. The interference theory includes output, proactive, and retroactive (Edwards, 2011). Output interference takes place when an attempt to recall information hinders a person from retrieving required information. For instance, a person may forget the guideline for a speech at home and arrive at a meeting without it. The person may forget a couple of points, while trying to recall some points listed in the guideline. The proactive interference happens when the existing memories hinder the full potential of a person to keep new information in the mind (Edwards, 2011). Older people experience difficulties in learning new vocabularies because the memories of older vocabularies interfere with the ability to acquire new ones. It is necessary to learn a language well at a young age, so that all memories will attain the same priority. Retroactive interference happens when a person experiences a problem retrieving older information upon learning new information (Edwards, 2011).
Explicit memory refers to the memory that requires a person to execute conscious to remember something (Edwards, 2011). Implicit does not require a person to execute conscious in order to remember. For instance, remembering how to polish shoes is an implicit memory, because the subject does not need conscious execution in order to remember (Edwards, 2011). Another example of implicit memory is remembering vocabularies in one’s own native language. After a person fully learns a language as a child, remembrance of common vocabularies does not require conscious execution. However, during the first days of learning a new language, a person possesses explicit memory, because the remembrance of new vocabularies must require the person to recollect conscious (Edwards, 2011).
Therefore, implicit and explicit memories are significant in explaining the development of language skills in human beings. Language development continues for many months in children to master their native language. A child learns vocabularies from the adults in the immediate environment and incorporates them in the long-term memory (Edwards, 2011). The number of vocabularies continues to increase with time, as the vocal cords continue to develop. After about one year and six months old, the child will start to utter actual words. When a child speaks words after mastering them for a number of months, execution of conscious is not necessary. Therefore, it is evident that the child, who has started to speak actual words, possesses implicit memory. However, adults, who are learning new languages, must first possess explicit memory, before possessing the implicit memory after mastering new vocabularies (Edwards, 2011). It is crucial to practice a language thoroughly in order to possess the implicit memory for a person to speak in a fluent manner.
Functional Fixedness and Pattern Learning
Functional fixedness refers to the cognitive bias limiting people to using objects in the manner people used them traditionally (Goldstein, 2007). This cognitive bias does not allow a person to use new approaches in solving problems. Many people begin to exhibit functional fixedness since they attain the age of seven years. Research has shown that culture contributes a lot to functional fixedness (Goldstein, 2007). For instance, people in the non-industrialized societies exhibit functional fixedness due to inadequate exposure to advanced technology artifacts, which people can use for many purposes, regardless of the primary function. The ability to understand the language of the people in the industrial society may end functional fixedness, because it will be easier to share culture (Goldstein, 2007).
Pattern learning takes place in young children. Adults make use of the skills they attained during early childhood and perfected during later childhood. Babies explore their environment through sound, touch, and sight (Goldstein, 2007). It is necessary to increase the quantity of objects in their immediate environment, which will increase their learning capabilities. Adults should teach their children about different patterns in such a manner that they can facilitate the development of patterning skills. Patterns will help school-going children develop their language skills, especially when the patterns involve letters of the alphabet or vowels (Goldstein, 2007).
Therefore, language experts may use patterns to ensure that pre-school children develop sufficient language skills. This will facilitate uttering sentences fluently, reading, and writing, because they will understand syllables with ease, especially when the teacher introduces patterns that include letters of the alphabet or vowels. Pattern learning is extremely necessary at the early stages of child development (Goldstein, 2007).
Inductive Versus Deductive Reasoning and Bad Decision-Making in Adolescents
Inductive and deductive reasoning refers to the reasoning that people use in humanities, mathematics, and sciences (Lerner & Steinberg, 2004). Inductive reasoning is useful in evaluating or constructing propositions, which serve as the abstractions of the individual instances’ observations. In inductive reasoning people arrive at conclusions by using the general principles (Lerner & Steinberg, 2004). Deductive reasoning refers to a process through which people reason from general statements concerning what can lead to a conclusion that is certainly logic (Lerner & Steinberg, 2004). This reasoning involves the use of true premises to bring about a true conclusion. In deductive reasoning, people reach a conclusion by using examples. Most of the adolescents across the world make poor or inappropriate decisions concerning their lives. This has resulted in delinquency, unprotected sexual intercourse, substance abuse, and school failure. Adolescents have opportunities to arrive at conclusions regarding friendships, using alcohol and other substances, engaging in gang activities, and other social evils (Lerner & Steinberg, 2004). Most of choices that people make during adolescence may result in life-long consequences affecting their career, social acceptance, or psychological well-being.
Research has shown that the use of a foreign language helps people significantly in making appropriate decisions (Lerner & Steinberg, 2004). A foreign language does not have as much emotional resonance as a native language does. This characteristic of foreign languages facilitates effective decision-making, because hope dominates decisions a person makes. In a native language, fear dominates decisions that a person makes, thereby rendering the decisions inappropriate and unfavorable. Therefore, a person’s emotions may depend on whether the person uses a native language only, or the person can use a foreign language. Emotions have a significant influence on decision-making (Lerner & Steinberg, 2004).
Cognitive psychology is a significant branch of psychology, which explains how a person acquires, processes, and retains information in their memories for future use (Goldstein, 2007). This area of psychology explains how the acquisition and mastery of languages takes place in children and adults. Research has shown that language processing takes place in the left hemisphere of the brain (Whitaker, 2010). The human brain is responsible for the development of language skills even in deaf and mute individuals. Attention is a strategy that enables to recognize various stimuli in the environment. Early and late selection theories of attention explain how people concentrate on different stimuli after exposure. Mental imagery, mental rotation, mental movement and cognitive maps and abstraction help a person to conceptualize new stimuli (Graf, 2006). Some memories, such as flashbulb memories, do not fade after conceptualization of the stimuli. However, ordinary memories have a likelihood of fading from a person’s mind for various reasons. Decay theory and interference theory can explain this situation conclusively (Edwards, 2011). Explicit and implicit memories explain learning of language skills in human beings. Pattern learning facilitates the development of implicit memory in children (Goldstein, 2007). Finally, decision-making skills in adolescents depend on inductive versus deductive reasoning, which enables adolescents to make appropriate decisions in their lives (Lerner & Steinberg, 2004).
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