Cognitive psychology is the scientific study of mental processes such as "attention, language use, memory, perception, problem solving, creativity, and thinking". Much of the work derived from cognitive psychology has been integrated into various other modern disciplines such as Cognitive Science and of psychological study, including educational psychology, social psychology, personality psychology, abnormal psychology, developmental psychology, linguistics, and economics.
Philosophically, ruminations of the human mind and its processes have been around since the times of the ancient Greeks. In 387 BCE, Plato is known to have suggested that the brain was the seat of the mental processes. In 1637, René Descartes posited that humans are born with innate ideas, and forwarded the idea of mind-body dualism, which would come to be known as substance dualism (essentially the idea that the mind and the body are two separate substances). From that time, major debates ensued through the 19th century regarding whether human thought was solely experiential (empiricism), or included innate knowledge (nativism). Some of those involved in this debate included George Berkeley and John Locke on the side of empiricism, and Immanuel Kant on the side of nativism.
With the philosophical debate continuing, the mid to late 19th century was a critical time in the development of psychology as a scientific discipline. Two discoveries that would later play substantial roles in cognitive psychology were Paul Broca's discovery of the area of the brain largely responsible for language production, and Carl Wernicke's discovery of an area thought to be mostly responsible for comprehension of language. Both areas were subsequently formally named for their founders and disruptions of an individual's language production or comprehension due to trauma or malformation in these areas have come to commonly be known as Broca's aphasia and Wernicke's aphasia.
From the 1920s to the 1950s, the main approach to psychology was behaviorism. Initially, its adherents viewed mental events such as thoughts, ideas, attention, and consciousness as unobservables, hence outside the realm of a science of psychology. One pioneer of cognitive psychology, who worked outside the boundaries (both intellectual and geographical) of behaviorism was Jean Piaget. From 1926 to the 1950s and into the 1980s, he studied the thoughts, language, and intelligence of children and adults.
In the mid-20th century, three main influences arose that would inspire and shape cognitive psychology as a formal school of thought:
Ulric Neisser put the term "cognitive psychology" into common use through his book Cognitive Psychology, published in 1967. Neisser's definition of "cognition" illustrates the then-progressive concept of cognitive processes:
The term "cognition" refers to all processes by which the sensory input is transformed, reduced, elaborated, stored, recovered, and used. It is concerned with these processes even when they operate in the absence of relevant stimulation, as in images and hallucinations. ... Given such a sweeping definition, it is apparent that cognition is involved in everything a human being might possibly do; that every psychological phenomenon is a cognitive phenomenon. But although cognitive psychology is concerned with all human activity rather than some fraction of it, the concern is from a particular point of view. Other viewpoints are equally legitimate and necessary. Dynamic psychology, which begins with motives rather than with sensory input, is a case in point. Instead of asking how a man's actions and experiences result from what he saw, remembered, or believed, the dynamic psychologist asks how they follow from the subject's goals, needs, or instincts.
The main focus of cognitive psychologists is on the mental processes that affect behavior. Those processes include, but are not limited to, the following:
The psychological definition of attention is "a state of focused awareness on a subset of the available perceptual information". A key function of attention is to identify irrelevant data and filter it out, enabling significant data to be distributed to the other mental processes. For example, the human brain may simultaneously receive auditory, visual, olfactory, taste, and tactile information. The brain is able to consciously handle only a small subset of this information, and this is accomplished through the attentional processes.
Attention can be divided into two major attentional systems: exogenous control and endogenous control. Exogenous control works in a bottom-up manner and is responsible for orienting reflex, and pop-out effects. Endogenous control works top-down and is the more deliberate attentional system, responsible for divided attention and conscious processing.
One major focal point relating to attention within the field of cognitive psychology is the concept of divided attention. A number of early studies dealt with the ability of a person wearing headphones to discern meaningful conversation when presented with different messages into each ear; this is known as the dichotic listening task. Key findings involved an increased understanding of the mind's ability to both focus on one message, while still being somewhat aware of information being taken in from the ear not being consciously attended to. E.g., participants (wearing earphones) may be told that they will be hearing separate messages in each ear and that they are expected to attend only to information related to basketball. When the experiment starts, the message about basketball will be presented to the left ear and non-relevant information will be presented to the right ear. At some point the message related to basketball will switch to the right ear and the non-relevant information to the left ear. When this happens, the listener is usually able to repeat the entire message at the end, having attended to the left or right ear only when it was appropriate. The ability to attend to one conversation in the face of many is known as the cocktail party effect.
Other major findings include that participants can't comprehend both passages, when shadowing one passage, they can't report content of the unattended message, they can shadow a message better if the pitches in each ear are different. However, while deep processing doesn't occur, early sensory processing does. Subjects did notice if the pitch of the unattended message changed or if it ceased altogether, and some even oriented to the unattended message if their name was mentioned.
The two main types of memory are short-term memory and long-term memory; however, short-term memory has become better understood to be working memory. Cognitive psychologists often study memory in terms of working memory.
Though working memory is often thought of as just short-term memory, it is more clearly defined as the ability to process and maintain temporary information in a wide range of everyday activities in the face of distraction. The famously known capacity of memory of 7 plus or minus 2 is a combination of both memory in working memory and long term memory.
One of the classic experiments is by Ebbinghaus, who found the serial position effect where information from the beginning and end of list of random words were better recalled than those in the center. This primacy and recency effect varies in intensity based on list length. Its typical U-shaped curve can be disrupted by an attention-grabbing word; this is known as the Von Restorff effect.
Many models of working memory have been made. One of the most regarded is the Baddeley and Hitch model of working memory. It takes into account both visual and auditory stimuli, long-term memory to use as a reference, and a central processor to combine and understand it all.
Modern conceptions of memory are usually about long-term memory and break it down into three main sub-classes. These three classes are somewhat hierarchical in nature, in terms of the level of conscious thought related to their use.
Perception involves both the physical senses (sight, smell, hearing, taste, touch, and proprioception) as well as the cognitive processes involved in interpreting those senses. Essentially, it is how people come to understand the world around them through interpretation of stimuli. Early psychologists like Edward B. Titchener began to work with perception in their structuralist approach to psychology. Structuralism dealt heavily with trying to reduce human thought (or "consciousness," as Titchener would have called it) into its most basic elements by gaining understanding of how an individual perceives particular stimuli.
Current perspectives on perception within cognitive psychology tend to focus on particular ways in which the human mind interprets stimuli from the senses and how these interpretations affect behavior. An example of the way in which modern psychologists approach the study of perception is the research being done at the Center for Ecological Study of Perception and Action at the University of Connecticut (CESPA). One study at CESPA concerns ways in which individuals perceive their physical environment and how that influences their navigation through that environment.
Psychologists have had an interest in the cognitive processes involved with language that dates back to the 1870s, when Carl Wernicke proposed a model for the mental processing of language. Current work on language within the field of cognitive psychology varies widely. Cognitive psychologists may study language acquisition, individual components of language formation (like phonemes), how language use is involved in mood, or numerous other related areas.
Significant work has been done recently with regard to understanding the timing of language acquisition and how it can be used to determine if a child has, or is at risk of, developing a learning disability. A study from 2012, showed that while this can be an effective strategy, it is important that those making evaluations include all relevant information when making their assessments. Factors such as individual variability, socioeconomic status, short-term and long-term memory capacity, and others must be included in order to make valid assessments.
Metacognition, in a broad sense, is the thoughts that a person has about their own thoughts. More specifically, metacognition includes things like:
Much of the current study regarding metacognition within the field of cognitive psychology deals with its application within the area of education. Being able to increase a student's metacognitive abilities has been shown to have a significant impact on their learning and study habits. One key aspect of this concept is the improvement of students' ability to set goals and self-regulate effectively to meet those goals. As a part of this process, it is also important to ensure that students are realistically evaluating their personal degree of knowledge and setting realistic goals (another metacognitive task).
Common phenomena related to metacognition include:
Modern perspectives on cognitive psychology generally address cognition as a dual process theory, expounded upon by Daniel Kahneman in 2011. Kahneman differentiated the two styles of processing more, calling them intuition and reasoning. Intuition (or system 1), similar to associative reasoning, was determined to be fast and automatic, usually with strong emotional bonds included in the reasoning process. Kahneman said that this kind of reasoning was based on formed habits and very difficult to change or manipulate. Reasoning (or system 2) was slower and much more volatile, being subject to conscious judgments and attitudes.
Following the cognitive revolution, and as a result of many of the principle discoveries to come out of the field of cognitive psychology, the discipline of cognitive therapy evolved. Aaron T. Beck is generally regarded as the father of cognitive therapy. His work in the areas of recognition and treatment of depression has gained worldwide recognition. In his 1987 book titled Cognitive Therapy of Depression, Beck puts forth three salient points with regard to his reasoning for the treatment of depression by means of therapy or therapy and antidepressants versus using a pharmacological-only approach:
1. Despite the prevalent use of antidepressants, the fact remains that not all patients respond to them. Beck cites (in 1987) that only 60 to 65% of patients respond to antidepressants, and recent meta-analyses (a statistical breakdown of multiple studies) show very similar numbers.
2. Many of those who do respond to antidepressants end up not taking their medications, for various reasons. They may develop side-effects or have some form of personal objection to taking the drugs.
3. Beck posits that the use of psychotropic drugs may lead to an eventual breakdown in the individual's coping mechanisms. His theory is that the person essentially becomes reliant on the medication as a means of improving mood and fails to practice those coping techniques typically practiced by healthy individuals to alleviate the effects of depressive symptoms. By failing to do so, once the patient is weaned off of the antidepressants, they often are unable to cope with normal levels of depressed mood and feel driven to reinstate use of the antidepressants.
Many facets of modern social psychology have roots in research done within the field of cognitive psychology. Social cognition is a specific sub-set of social psychology that concentrates on processes that have been of particular focus within cognitive psychology, specifically applied to human interactions. Gordon B. Moskowitz defines social cognition as "... the study of the mental processes involved in perceiving, attending to, remembering, thinking about, and making sense of the people in our social world".
The development of multiple social information processing (SIP) models has been influential in studies involving aggressive and anti-social behavior. Kenneth Dodge's SIP model is one of, if not the most, empirically supported models relating to aggression. Among his research, Dodge posits that children who possess a greater ability to process social information more often display higher levels of socially acceptable behavior. His model asserts that there are five steps that an individual proceeds through when evaluating interactions with other individuals and that how the person interprets cues is key to their reactionary process.
Many of the prominent names in the field of developmental psychology base their understanding of development on cognitive models. One of the major paradigms of developmental psychology, the Theory of Mind (ToM), deals specifically with the ability of an individual to effectively understand and attribute cognition to those around them. This concept typically becomes fully apparent in children between the ages of 4 and 6. Essentially, before the child develops ToM, they are unable to understand that those around them can have different thoughts, ideas, or feelings than themselves. The development of ToM is a matter of metacognition, or thinking about one's thoughts. The child must be able to recognize that they have their own thoughts and in turn, that others possess thoughts of their own.
One of the foremost minds with regard to developmental psychology, Jean Piaget, focused much of his attention on cognitive development from birth through adulthood. Though there have been considerable challenges to parts of his stages of cognitive development, they remain a staple in the realm of education. Piaget's concepts and ideas predated the cognitive revolution but inspired a wealth of research in the field of cognitive psychology and many of his principles have been blended with modern theory to synthesize the predominant views of today.
Modern theories of education have applied many concepts that are focal points of cognitive psychology. Some of the most prominent concepts include:
Cognitive therapeutic approaches have received considerable attention in the treatment of personality disorders in recent years. The approach focuses on the formation of what it believes to be faulty schemata, centralized on judgmental biases and general cognitive errors.
The line between cognitive psychology and cognitive science can be blurry. Cognitive psychology is better understood as predominantly concerned with applied psychology and the understanding of psychological phenomena. Cognitive psychologists are often heavily involved in running psychological experiments involving human participants, with the goal of gathering information related to how the human mind takes in, processes, and acts upon inputs received from the outside world. The information gained in this area is then often used in the applied field of clinical psychology.
Cognitive science is better understood as predominantly concerned with a much broader scope, with links to philosophy, linguistics, anthropology, neuroscience, and particularly with artificial intelligence. It could be said that cognitive science provides the corpus of information feeding the theories used by cognitive psychologists. Cognitive scientists' research sometimes involves non-human subjects, allowing them to delve into areas which would come under ethical scrutiny if performed on human participants. I.e., they may do research implanting devices in the brains of rats to track the firing of neurons while the rat performs a particular task. Cognitive science is highly involved in the area of artificial intelligence and its application to the understanding of mental processes.
In the early years of cognitive psychology, behaviorist critics held that the empiricism it pursued was incompatible with the concept of internal mental states. Cognitive neuroscience, however, continues to gather evidence of direct correlations between physiological brain activity and putative mental states, endorsing the basis for cognitive psychology.
Some observers have suggested that as cognitive psychology became a movement during the 1970s, the intricacies of the phenomena and processes it examined meant it also began to lose cohesion as a field of study. In Psychology: Pythagoras to Present, for example, John Malone writes: "Examinations of late twentieth-century textbooks dealing with "cognitive psychology", "human cognition", "cognitive science" and the like quickly reveal that there are many, many varieties of cognitive psychology and very little agreement about exactly what may be its domain."  This misfortune produced competing models that questioned information-processing approaches to cognitive functioning such as Decision Making and Behavioral Science.
Some of the research that is conducted in the field of psychology is more "fundamental" than the research conducted in the applied psychological disciplines, and does not necessarily have a direct application. The subdisciplines within psychology that can be thought to reflect a basic-science orientation include biological psychology, cognitive psychology, neuropsychology, and so on. Research in these subdisciplines is characterized by methodological rigor. The concern of psychology as a basic science is in understanding the laws and processes that underlie behavior, cognition, and emotion. Psychology as a basic science provides a foundation for applied psychology. Applied psychology, by contrast, involves the application of psychological principles and theories yielded up by the basic psychological sciences; these applications are aimed at overcoming problems or promoting well-being in areas such as mental and physical health and education.Cognitive neuroscience
Cognitive neuroscience is the scientific field that is concerned with the study of the biological processes and aspects that underlie cognition, with a specific focus on the neural connections in the brain which are involved in mental processes. It addresses the questions of how cognitive activities are affected or controlled by neural circuits in the brain. Cognitive neuroscience is a branch of both neuroscience and psychology, overlapping with disciplines such as behavioral neuroscience, cognitive psychology, physiological psychology and affective neuroscience. Cognitive neuroscience relies upon theories in cognitive science coupled with evidence from neurobiology, and computational modeling.Parts of the brain play an important role in this field. Neurons play the most vital role, since the main point is to establish an understanding of cognition from a neural perspective, along with the different lobes of the cerebral cortex.
Methods employed in cognitive neuroscience include experimental procedures from psychophysics and cognitive psychology, functional neuroimaging, electrophysiology, cognitive genomics, and behavioral genetics.
Studies of patients with cognitive deficits due to brain lesions constitute an important aspect of cognitive neuroscience. The damages in lesioned brains provide a comparable basis with regards to healthy and fully functioning brains.
These damages change the neural circuits in the brain and cause it to malfunction during basic cognitive processes, such as memory or learning. With the damage, we can compare how the healthy neural circuits are functioning, and possibly draw conclusions about the basis of the affected cognitive processes.
Also, cognitive abilities based on brain development are studied and examined under the subfield of developmental cognitive neuroscience. This shows brain development over time, analyzing differences and concocting possible reasons for those differences.
Theoretical approaches include computational neuroscience and cognitive psychology.Cognitive science of religion
Cognitive science of religion is the study of religious thought and behavior from the perspective of the cognitive and evolutionary sciences. The field employs methods and theories from a very broad range of disciplines, including: cognitive psychology, evolutionary psychology, cognitive anthropology, artificial intelligence, neurotheology, developmental psychology, and archaeology. Scholars in this field seek to explain how human minds acquire, generate, and transmit religious thoughts, practices, and schemas by means of ordinary cognitive capacities.Cognitivism (psychology)
In psychology, cognitivism is a theoretical framework for understanding the mind that gained credence in the 1950s. The movement was a response to behaviorism, which cognitivists said neglected to explain cognition. Cognitive psychology derived its name from the Latin cognoscere, referring to knowing and information, thus cognitive psychology is an information-processing psychology derived in part from earlier traditions of the investigation of thought and problem solving.Behaviorists acknowledged the existence of thinking, but identified it as a behavior. Cognitivists argued that the way people think impacts their behavior and therefore cannot be a behavior in and of itself. Cognitivists later argued that thinking is so essential to psychology that the study of thinking should become its own field. However, cognitivists typically presuppose a specific form of mental activity, of the kind advanced by computationalism.Deese–Roediger–McDermott paradigm
The Deese–Roediger–McDermott (DRM) paradigm is a procedure in cognitive psychology used to study false memory in humans. The procedure was pioneered by James Deese in 1959, but it was not until Henry L. Roediger III and Kathleen McDermott extended the line of research in 1995 that the paradigm became popular. The procedure typically involves the oral presentation of a list of related words (e.g. bed, rest, awake, tired, dream, wake, snooze, blanket, doze, slumber, snore, nap, peace, yawn, drowsy) and then requires the subject to remember as many words from the list as possible. Typical results show that subjects recall a related but nonpresented word (e.g. sleep), known as a 'lure', with the same frequency as other presented words. When subjects are asked about their experience after the test, about half of all participants report that they are sure that they remember hearing the nonpresented word, indicating a false memory – memory for an event that never occurred.
The simplicity of the paradigm and the ease with which DRM studies can be conducted have helped the DRM paradigm become popular among human memory researchers, as well as researchers from other fields.Delboeuf illusion
The Delboeuf illusion is an optical illusion of relative size perception. In the best-known version of the illusion, two circles of identical size have been placed near to each other and one is surrounded by an annulus; the surrounded circle then appears larger than the non-surrounded circle if the annulus is close, while appearing smaller than the non-surrounded circle if the annulus is distant. A 2005 study suggests it is caused by the same visual processes that cause the Ebbinghaus illusion.Eyewitness testimony
Eyewitness testimony is the account a bystander or victim gives in the courtroom, describing what that person observed that occurred during the specific incident under investigation. Ideally this recollection of events is detailed; however, this is not always the case. This recollection is used as evidence to show what happened from a witness' point of view. Memory recall has been considered a credible source in the past, but has recently come under attack as forensics can now support psychologists in their claim that memories and individual perceptions can be unreliable, manipulated, and biased. Due to this, many countries and states within the US are now attempting to make changes in how eyewitness testimony is presented in court. Eyewitness testimony is a specialized focus within cognitive psychology.Kuleshov effect
The Kuleshov effect is a film editing (montage) effect demonstrated by Soviet film-maker Lev Kuleshov in the 1910s and 1920s. It is a mental phenomenon by which viewers derive more meaning from the interaction of two sequential shots than from a single shot in isolation.Lacunar amnesia
Lacunar amnesia is the loss of memory about one specific event. It is a type of amnesia that leaves a lacuna (a gap) in the record of memory in the cortex region of the brain. The cause of this type of amnesia is the result of brain damage to the limbic system which control our memories and emotions.Mathematical psychology
Mathematical psychology is an approach to psychological research that is based on mathematical modeling of perceptual, thought, cognitive and motor processes, and on the establishment of law-like rules that relate quantifiable stimulus characteristics with quantifiable behavior. The mathematical approach is used with the goal of deriving hypotheses that are more exact and thus yield stricter empirical validations. Quantifiable behavior is in practice often constituted by task performance.
As quantification of behavior is fundamental in this endeavor, the theory of measurement is a central topic in mathematical psychology.
Mathematical psychology is therefore closely related to psychometrics. However, where psychometrics is concerned with individual differences (or population structure) in mostly static variables, mathematical psychology focuses on process models of perceptual, cognitive and motor processes as inferred from the 'average individual'. Furthermore, where psychometrics investigates the stochastic dependence structure between variables as observed in the population, mathematical psychology almost exclusively focuses on the modeling of data obtained from experimental paradigms and is therefore even more closely related to experimental psychology/cognitive psychology/psychonomics. Like computational neuroscience and econometrics, mathematical psychology theory often uses statistical optimality as a guiding principle, assuming that the human brain has evolved to solve problems in an optimized way. Central themes from cognitive psychology; limited vs. unlimited processing capacity, serial vs. parallel processing, etc., and their implications, are central in rigorous analysis in mathematical psychology.
Mathematical psychologists are active in many fields of psychology, especially in psychophysics, sensation and perception, problem solving, decision-making, learning, memory, and language, collectively known as cognitive psychology, and the quantitative analysis of behavior but also, e.g., in clinical psychology, social psychology, and psychology of music.Memory implantation
Memory implantation is a technique used in cognitive psychology to investigate human memory. In memory implantation studies researchers make people believe that they remember an event that actually never happened. The false memories that have been successfully implanted in people’s memories include remembering being lost in a mall as a child, taking a hot air balloon ride, and putting slime in a teacher’s desk in primary school.Memory implantation techniques were developed in the 1990s as a way of providing evidence of how easy it is to distort people's memories of past events. Most of the studies on memory implantation were published in the context of the debate about repressed memories and the possible danger of digging for lost memories in therapy. The successful implantation of memories in people’s minds has implications for therapy and legal settings.Mental event
A mental event is anything which happens within the mind or mind substitute of a conscious individual. Examples include thoughts, feelings, decisions, dreams, and realizations.Some believe that mental events are not limited to human thought but can be associated with animals and artificial intelligence as well. Whether mental events are identical to complex physical events, or whether such an identity even makes sense, is central to the mind-body problem.Mentalism (psychology)
In psychology, mentalism refers to those branches of study that concentrate on perception and thought processes: for example, mental imagery, consciousness and cognition, as in cognitive psychology. The term mentalism has been used primarily by behaviorists who believe that scientific psychology should focus on the structure of causal relationships to conditioned responses, or on the functions of behavior.Neither mentalism nor behaviorism are mutually exclusive fields; elements of one can be seen in the other, perhaps more so in modern times compared to the advent of psychology over a century ago.Neuromanagement
Neuromanagement uses cognitive neuroscience, among other life science fields, and technology to analyze economic and managerial issues. It focuses on exploring human brain activities and mental processes when people are faced with typical problems of economics and management. This research provides insight into human decision-making and other general social behavior. The main research areas include decision neuroscience, neuroeconomics, neuromarketing, neuro-industrial engineering, and neuro-information systems. Neuromanagement was first proposed in 2006 by Professor Qingguo Ma, the director of Neuromanagement Laboratory of Zhejiang University.Procedural knowledge
Procedural knowledge, also known as imperative knowledge, is the knowledge exercised in the performance of some task. See below for the specific meaning of this term in cognitive psychology and intellectual property law.
In some legal systems, such procedural knowledge has been considered the intellectual property of a company, and can be transferred when that company is purchased.
One limitation of procedural knowledge is its job-dependent nature. As a result, it tends to be less general than declarative knowledge. For example, a computer expert might have knowledge about a computer algorithm in multiple languages, or in pseudo-code, but a Visual Basic programmer might know only about a specific implementation of that algorithm, written in Visual Basic. Thus the 'hands-on' expertise and experience of the Visual Basic programmer might be of commercial value only to Microsoft job-shops, for example.
One advantage of procedural knowledge is that it can involve more senses, such as hands-on experience, practice at solving problems, understanding of the limitations of a specific solution, etc. Thus procedural knowledge can frequently eclipse theory.Spatial–temporal reasoning
Spatial–temporal reasoning is an area of artificial intelligence which draws from the fields of computer science, cognitive science, and cognitive psychology. The theoretic goal—on the cognitive side—involves representing and reasoning spatial-temporal knowledge in mind. The applied goal—on the computing side—involves developing high-level control systems of automata for navigating and understanding time and space.Subjective validation
Subjective validation, sometimes called personal validation effect, is a cognitive bias by which a person will consider a statement or another piece of information to be correct if it has any personal meaning or significance to them. In other words, a person whose opinion is affected by subjective validation will perceive two unrelated events (i.e., a coincidence) to be related because their personal belief demands that they be related. Closely related to the Forer effect, subjective validation is an important element in cold reading. It is considered to be the main reason behind most reports of paranormal phenomena. According to Bob Carroll, psychologist Ray Hyman is considered to be the foremost expert on subjective validation and cold reading.The term subjective validation first appeared in the 1980 book The Psychology of the Psychic by David F. Marks and Richard Kammann.Ulric Neisser
Ulric Gustav Neisser (December 8, 1928 – February 17, 2012) was a German-born American psychologist and member of the US National Academy of Sciences. He has been referred to as the "father of cognitive psychology". Neisser researched and wrote about perception and memory. He posited that a person's mental processes could be measured and subsequently analyzed. In 1967, Neisser published Cognitive Psychology, which he later said was considered an attack on behaviorist psychological paradigms. Cognitive Psychology brought Neisser instant fame and recognition in the field of psychology. While Cognitive Psychology was considered unconventional, it was Neisser's Cognition and Reality that contained some of his most controversial ideas. A main theme in Cognition and Reality is Neisser's advocacy for experiments on perception occurring in natural ("ecologically valid") settings. Neisser postulated that memory is, largely, reconstructed and not a snap shot of the moment. Neisser illustrated this during one of his highly publicized studies on people's memories of the Challenger explosion. In his later career, he summed up current research on human intelligence and edited the first major scholarly monograph on the Flynn effect. A Review of General Psychology survey, published in 2002, ranked Neisser as the 32nd most cited psychologist of the 20th century.Voluntary action
Voluntary action is an anticipated goal-oriented movement. The concept arises in many areas of study, including cognitive psychology, operant conditioning, philosophy, neurology, and criminology among others, and it has various meanings depending on the context in which it is used. For example, operant psychology uses the term to refer to the actions that are modifiable by their consequences. A more cognitive account may refer to voluntary action as involving the identification of a desired outcome together with the action necessary to achieve that outcome. Voluntary action is often associated with consciousness and will. For example, Psychologist Charles Nuckolls holds that we control our voluntary behavior, and that it is not known how we come to plan what actions will be executed. Many psychologists, notably Tolman, apply the concept of voluntary action to both animal and human behavior, raising the issue of animal consciousness and its role in voluntary action. (See animal consciousness)