Cognitive Revolution

During the mid to late 1950's an intellectual movement that came to be known as Cognitive Sciences began. The title cognitive revolution is somewhat misleading in that scientists did not abruptly attack the ideas of previous psychological research. Prior to the so-called revolution, behaviorism was the predominate theory in psychological research. Behaviorism stated that mental processes could not be objectively studied, only the simple serial processes of behavior are sufficient for experimental psychology. A few psychologists such as Karl Lashley, George Miller, and Noam Chomsky found gaps in researching the simple stimulus response model of behaviorism. In their various critiques they converged upon the importance of mental processes and the lacking ability to understand the human mind otherwise.

A Brief History of Experimental Psychology

Experimental psychology began in the late 19th century with a focus on introspection, which involved a trained researcher and participant through many, possibly hundreds of trials. Introspection was merely reporting ones experience of particular sensory information. Internal mental processes were thought to be too subjective to be studied empirically. When behaviorism came along in the 1920's, it also followed a model that considered the internal processes impossible to study objectively. Cognitive science was born under the idea that thinking, perception, and mental processes are key to understanding the human experience. The computer metaphor explains mental processes as programs that run on a computer which represents the brain. The information processing theory is based on that computer model in an attempt to understand how the mind transforms, stores, and recovers sensory stimulus.