Cognitive psychology is the study of mental processes, such as attention, memory, language, perception, problem solving, reasoning and decision making, and how these processes influence behavior. Cognitive science and developmental psychology are some disciplines related to the field of cognitive psychology.
In terms of mental health issues, how people process and obtain information is greatly important and alters the way they may perceive the world and themselves. In the past, behaviorism was the focus in psychology, with the idea that behaviors are learned through conditioning and abnormal behavior could be treated by re-teaching the individual certain behaviors. However, there is now more of a focus on the internal processes of the mind as the reason behind certain behaviors.
For example, an individual's thinking style may lead them to interpret everything people say to them as a negative comment. A seemingly positive compliment may even be processed as a lie due to the person's negative thinking. A cumulation of these negative thought patterns could lead to developing depressive thoughts and behavior, which could then be understood and treated using cognitive therapies to teach the person to stop their negative, automatic thinking and learn to control their thought processes more.
A major focus in cognitive psychology is on information gathering, processing, encoding, and retrieving. With the invention of the computer, a popular model was created comparing the human mind to how a computer processes information. This model is called the Turing machine and it simulates the logical decision making of a computer and demonstrates how this same logic can also be used to demonstrate how the brain thinks.
By studying how people use information, advancements can be made in treating people with memory problems, learning disorders, or other related disorders. Therefore the field is valuable and cognitive psychologists are often employed in a research laboratory or educational institution.
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