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Cognitive Psychology: Attention · Decision making · Learning · Judgement · Memory · Motivation · Perception · Reasoning · Thinking  - Cognitive processes Cognition - Outline Index


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Introduction Edit

A cognitive module is, in theories of the modularity of mind and the closely-related society of mind theory, a specialised tool or sub-unit that can be used by other parts to resolve cognitive tasks. The question of their existence and nature is a major topic in cognitive science and evolutionary psychology. Some see cognitive modules as an independent part of the mind.[2] Others see also new thought patterns achieved by experience as cognitive modules.[3]

Other theories similar to the Cognitive Module are Cognitive description[4], Cognitive pattern[5] and Psychological Mechanism. Such a mechanism, if created by evolution, is known as Evolved Psychological Mechanism[6].

ExamplesEdit

Some examples of cognitive modules:

  • The modules controlling your hands when you ride a bike, to stop it from crashing, by minor left and right turns.
  • The modules which allow a basket-ball player to accurately put the ball into the basket by tracking ballistic orbits.[7]
  • The modules which recognize hunger and tell you that you need food.[8]
  • The modules which cause you to appreciate a beautiful flower, painting or person.[9]
  • The modules which make humans very efficient in recognizing faces, already shown in two month old babies.[10]
  • The modules which cause some humans to be jealous of their partners' friends.[11] [12]
  • The modules which compute the speeds of incoming vehicles and tells you if you have time to cross without crashing into said vehicles.[13]
  • The modules which tell you to look both to the right and to the left before crossing a street.
  • Modules that specifically discern the movements of animals. [16] [17]

Psychic disorders - cognitive modules run amokEdit

Many common psychic and personality disorders are caused by cognitive modules run amok.

Jealousy A common cause of unnecessary conflict in relations is that a man is jealous of a woman's of other previous sexual partners before she met him.[21] All people are born with a basic jealousy cognitive module, developed through as evolutionary strategy in order to safeguard a mate and trigger aggression towards competitors to ensure paternity and prevent bastards[22] If this module is activated to too strong a degree, it becomes a personality disorder.[23][24][25]

Stalking An extreme psychic disorder related to jealousy is stalking.[26]A stalker is a person (usually a man) who behaves as if he had a relation to another person (usually a woman) who is not interested in him. There are also women who stalk men, men who stalk men and women who stalk women, but most common is a man stalking a woman. In modern western culture this behaviour is strongly frowned upon.

Paranoia[27] Being suspicious of fellow human beings is a trait to safeguard against perceived, secret plots against us, a basic human cognitive module useful for survival. But in some people, this turns into unreasonable suspiciousness where there is in reality no plotting against one. Such behaviour is by psychiatrists labeled as paranoid schizophrenia or in milder forms as paranoid personality disorder[28]. These disorders thus occur when the suspiciousness cognitive module is triggered too often and too strongly for triggers which would not trigger this module in normal people.[29]

Obsessive-compulsive disorder: In this quite common disorder, a person will repeatedly check, for example, that a door is locked. One may repeatedly wash hands or other body parts, sometimes for hours, in order to ensure cleanliness [30]. Again, this disorder is malfunction of a normal adaptationin all humans to check that a door is looked, to wash to keep us clean, etc.

Transference:[31] A cognitive module developed to solve a particular problem can sometimes crop up in other situations where it is not appropriate. One may be angry at one's boss, but take the anger out on one's fellow man. Often, the transference is unconscious (see also subconscious mind and unconscious mind). In psychotherapy, the patient is made aware of this which makes it easier to modify the unsuitable behaviour[32]

Sigmund Freud's theory of sublimation[33] said that cognitive modules for some activities, such as sex, may incorrectly show up in disguise in cases where they are not suitable. Freud also introduced the idea of the unconscious, which interpreted as cognitive modules where a person is not aware of the initial cause of these modules and may use them inappropriately.

Schizophrenia is a psychotic disorder where cognitive modules are triggered too often, overwhelming the brain with information.[34] The inability to repress overwhelming information is a cause of Schizophrenia.[35]

Treatment of cognitive module psychic disordersEdit

Cognitive therapy is a psychotherapeutic method which helps people to understand better which cognitive modules cause them to do certain things, and to teach them alternative, more appropriate cognitive modules to use instead in the future.

Psychoanalytic view of cognitive modulesEdit

According to psychoanalytic theory, many cognitive modules are unconscious and repressed, in order to avoid mental conflicts. Defenses are meant to be cognitive modules used to suppress the awareness of other cognitive modules. Unconscious cognitive modules may influence our behaviour without our being aware of it.

Evolutionary psychology view of cognitive modulesEdit

In the research field of Evolutionary psychology it is believed that some cognitive modules are inherited and some are created by learning, but the creation of new modules by learning is often guided by inherited modules.[36]

For example, the ability to ride a car or throw a basket ball are certainly learned and not inherited modules, but they may make use of inherited modules to rapidly compute trajectories.

There is some disagreement between different social scientists on the importance to the capabilities of the human mind of inherited modules. Evolutionary psychologists claim that other social scientists do not accept that some modules are partially inherited[37], other social scientists claim that evolutionary psychologists are exaggerating the importance of inherited cognitive modules.

Memory and creative thoughtEdit

A very important aspect of how humans think is the ability, when encountering a situation or problem, to find more or less similar, but not identical, experiences or cognitive modules. This can be compared to what happens if you sound a tone near a piano. The piano string corresponding to this particular tone will then vibrate. But also other strings, from nearby strings, will vibrate to a lesser extent.

Exactly how the human mind does this is not known, but it is believed that when you encounter a situation or problem, many different cognitive modules are activated at the same time, and the mind selects those which are most useful for understanding a new situation or solving a new problem.[38][39]

Ethics and lawEdit

Most law-abiding people have cognitive modules which stop them from committing crimes. Criminals have different modules, causing criminal behaviour. Thus, cognitive modules can be a cause of both ethical and unethical behaviour.[40]

See alsoEdit

References Edit

This article is based on an article in Web4Health.

  1. More news from the savannah The Economist, Sep 27th 2007
  2. Max Coltheart: Modularity and cognition - Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 1999
  3. Tooby, John and Cosmides, Leda 1992 The Psychological Foundations of Culture, in Barkow, Jerome H., Cosmides, Leda, Tooby, John, (1992) The Adapted Mind: Evolutionary Psychology and the Generation of Culture, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-506023-7, page 30-32.
  4. Tooby, John and Cosmides, Leda 1992 The Psychological Foundations of Culture, in Barkow, Jerome H., Cosmides, Leda, Tooby, John, (1992) The Adapted Mind: Evolutionary Psychology and the Generation of Culture, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-506023-7, page 64.
  5. Doreen Kimura, Elizabeth Hampson (1994) Cognitive Pattern in Men and Women Is Influenced by Fluctuations in Sex Hormones. Current Directions in Psychological Science 3 (2), 57–61. doi:10.1111/1467-8721.ep10769964.
  6. David M. Buss: Evolutionary Psychology - The New Science of the Mind] - 2nd edition, Pearson Education 2004, pages 50ff.
  7. Ralf Th. Krampe, Ralf Engbert and Reinhold Kliegl: "Representational Models and Nonlinear Dynamics: Irreconcilable Approaches to Human Movement Timing and Coordination or Two Sides of the Same Coin? Introduction to the Special Issue on Movement Timing and Coordination", Brain and Cognition Volume 48, Issue 1, February 2002, Pages 1-6.
  8. David M. Buss: Evolutionary Psychology - The New Science of the Mind] - 1st edition, Pearson Education 2004, pages 71-87.
  9. David M. Buss: Evolutionary Psychology - The New Science of the Mind] - 2nd edition, Pearson Education 2004, pages 407-410.
  10. Bruce, Vicki; Young, Andy: "Understanding face recognition", British Journal of Psychology. 1986 Aug Vol 77(3) 305-327.
  11. David M. Buss: Evolutionary Psychology - The New Science of the Mind] - 2nd edition, Pearson Education 2004, pages 325-330.
  12. The Evolution of Jealousy: The Specific Innate Module Theory Scientific American, Volume: 92 Number: 1, (January-February 2004)
  13. Ralf Th. Krampe, Ralf Engbert and Reinhold Kliegl: "Representational Models and Nonlinear Dynamics: Irreconcilable Approaches to Human Movement Timing and Coordination or Two Sides of the Same Coin? Introduction to the Special Issue on Movement Timing and Coordination", Brain and Cognition Volume 48, Issue 1, February 2002, Pages 1-6.
  14. David M. Buss: Evolutionary Psychology - The New Sciend of the Mind] - 2nd edition, Pearson Education 2004, pages 188ff
  15. David M. Buss: Evolutionary Psychology - The New Science of the Mind] - 2nd edition, Pearson Education 2004, pages 103 ff.
  16. Category-specific attention for animals reflects ancestral priorities, not expertise Joshua New, Leda Cosmides, and John Tooby. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, October 2, 2007; 104 (40)
  17. More news from the savannah The Economist, Sep 27th 2007
  18. W.B. Cannon: Bodily Changes in Pain, Hunger, Fear and Rage: An Account of Recent Research Into the Function of Emotional Excitement, 2nd ed. New York, Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1929
  19. Daniel Kruger and Randolph Nesse: Sexual selection and the Male:Female Mortality Ratio, Human Nature Review 2004. 2: 68.
  20. Arthur S. P. Jansen: Central Command Neurons of the Sympathetic Nervous System: Basis of the Fight-or-Flight Response, Science 27 October 1995: Vol. 270. no. 5236, pp. 644 - 646.
  21. Problem with Jealousy of Past Relations By Gunborg Palme 2006
  22. Tatiana's Sex Advice to All Creation: The Definitive Guide to the Evolutionary Biology of Sex Olivia Judson, Dr. Publisher: Vintage; New Ed (2003), 320p. ISBN 0099283751
  23. David M. Buss: The evolution of desire] - 2nd edition, Basic Books 2003, pages 125ff.
  24. Margo Wilson and Martin Daly: The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Chattel, in Jerome H. Barkow et al, The Adapted Mind, Oxford University Press, 1992, page 302-305.
  25. David M. Buss: The evolution of desire] - 2nd edition, Basic Books 2003, pages 129ff.
  26. J. Reid Meloy The Psychology of Stalking - Clinical and Forensic Perspectives, by J. Reid Meloy (ed.), Academic Press, 2001.
  27. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders - DSM-IV, American Psychiatric Association 1994 page 287
  28. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders - DSM-IV, American Psychiatric Association 1994 pages 634ff
  29. Erlene Rosowsky, Robert C. Abrams, Richard A. Zweig: Personality Disorders in Older Adults: Emerging Issues in Diagnosis and Treatment; Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1999. p. 154.
  30. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders - DSM-IV, American Psychiatric Association 1994 pages 417ff
  31. Thornton, Stephen P. (2006) Sigmund Freud (1856-1939)
  32. Gabbard GO, Horwitz L, Allen JG, Frieswyk S, Newsom G, Colson DB, Coyne L.: "Transference interpretation in the psychotherapy of borderline patients: a high-risk, high-gain phenomenon", Harv Rev Psychiatry. 1994 Jul-Aug;2(2):59-69.
  33. Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) Thornton, Stephen P. (2006)
  34. D. Weinberger, Prefrontal neurons and the genetics of schizophrenia Biological Psychiatry, Volume 50, Issue 11, Pages 825-844.
  35. Randolph M. Nesse and Alan T. Lloyd, The Evolution of Psychodynamic Mechanisms, in Jerome H. Barkow et al, The Adapted Mind, Oxford University Press, 1992, page 608.
  36. David M. Buss: Evolutionary Psychology - The New Sciend of the Mind] - 2nd edition, Pearson Education 2004, pages 19-21
  37. Tooby, John and Cosmides, Leda 1992 The Psychological Foundations of Culture, in The Adapted Mind: Evolutionary Psychology and the Generation of Culture, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-506023-7 page 38.
  38. Liane Gabora: Toward a theory of creative inklings In (R. Ascott, ed.) Art, Technology, and Consciousness, Intellect Press, p. 159-164.
  39. D. Goleman, Vital lies, simple truths, Simon & Schuster 1985.
  40. David Abrahamsen: The Psychology of Crime; Columbia University Press, 1960. p. 158ff

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