Choose one of the following essays
1. The Unitary vs. the Duplex Model of Memory
One of the first debates initiating the rise of cognitive psychology concerned the issue of memory. The traditional approach, inherited from the learning theories of the behaviorist school, argued that forgetting was the result of interference between new learning and old learning. The cognitive school argued for a duplex memory system in which the processes responsible for forgetting depended on which components of the memory system were being tested.
a. Assume a group of subjects is presented 25 words in a serial learning task such that the words are presented one at a time with about a three second interval between each word. What pattern of results would you expect if you were to measure the probability of correct as a function of position on the list on a free recall task
b. How would a learning theorist who was an advocate of the unitary model of memory explain the pattern of results?
c. How would an advocate of the duplex model explain the results?
d. Describe at least one experiment comparing a free recall with a serial recall task and explain how these results would be interpreted by advocates of each of these models
e. Describe Glanzer’s experiment using the Peterson task and explain how this experiment answers the objections made by the unitary theorists to the duplex theorists’ interpretation of the results in “d” (above)
2. Working Memory vs. STS
Baddeley, one of today’s most influential theorists in memory, has argued that the concept of an undifferentiated STS is incorrect. As an alternative he has proposed the concept of working memory which has three main components.
a. Identify the components of this system and explain what each of them does and how they are related.
b. Explain how the word length effect as manipulated by Baddeley fails to support the simple chunking in STM hypothesis advocated by Miller.
c. Describe at least two experiments, the results of which support the existence of one or both of the other sub-systems of the executive component.
d. Describe the experimental evidence suggesting that the VSSP has two separable sub-components one purely visual and the other spatial.
e. Discuss the contribution of Farah’s work with brain injured patients on visual vs. spatial imagery tasks and its relevance to the issue addressed in “d’ above.
3. Selective Attention
In 1958 Broadbent proposed a filter model of attention which attempted to explain why only some but not all aspects of the stimulus environment reached attention. Following Broadbent’s lead, several variations on this model were proposed (Treisman, 1964; Deutsch & Deutsch, 1963).
a. Sketch out all three models indicating:
a. What each model assumes about the sort of processing that takes place with respect to both targeted and non-targeted stimulus information.
b. Describe at least one experiment which supports Broadbent’s model (indicat9ing, of course how the data support the model.)
b. Based upon your assigned readings, class notes, outside readings etc.
a. Select and discuss at least two experiments that led to the rejection of Broadbent’s model. (You may use but are not limited to Grey and Wedderborn, 1960; Treisman, 1964; Corteen and Wood, 1972; Mackay, 1973 etc.)
b. Explain how attenuation or late filtering models handle the data from the experiments you just described above.
c. Evaluate the merits of choosing between the Treisman’s and Deutsch and Deutsch’s model.
4. Categorization and Prototypes
The debate about the basis upon which we form category judgements has had a very long history (Plato’s ideal forms, Berkeley’s rejection of the “general triangle” etc.) More recently cognitive psychologists have entered this debate and have, predictably, generated theories that fall roughly into two historically respectable categories: “memory for individual instances” and “rule abstraction”.
a. Compare template with prototype theories.
b. What is the advantage prototype theories have over template theories?
c. Describe the Posner and Keele (1968) study in which a prototype is formed of a set of nine dots placed randomly on a screen.
d. What is the logic behind the conclusion that their results support an abstraction process in the formation of a prototype? Given the same results, how might it be argued that an “individual instances” approach could also explain the data?
e. (Optional) Is there any research that may throw some light on the question of abstraction vs. individual instances? (Simply saying “yes” or “no” will not do here).
5. Minds, Brains and Programs
Back in the early 1950’s, at the beginning of the computer age, Alan Turing devised a test that attempted to give criteria that would allow us to determine whether a machine could (in principle) think. In the 1980’s some researchers in artificial intelligence (AI) began to make claims that their machines were coming very close to passing Turing’s test.
a. Describe the Turing test and explain why passing it is presumed to be relevant to the question of whether a computer can think.
b. Distinguish between the claims of “strong” and “weak” AI.
c. Describe the situation encountered in Searle’s Chinese room.
d. Explain whether the “system” embodied in the “room” is passing the Turing test. What consequences, according to Searle does this have for the legitimacy of the test?
d. Present at least two the replies (the systems, the robot, the brain simulation or the combinations reply) along with Searle’s rebuttal to it.
e. So according to Searle, is there a kind of machine that can think? Is Searle right about the “causal powers” of the brain being due to the brain being made of the “right stuff” or do you think he is missing something important about thinking?
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