Information processing conceptualizations of human cognition: Past, present and future

TitleInformation processing conceptualizations of human cognition: Past, present and future
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication1985
AuthorsLoftus E.F., Schooler J.W.
EditorRuben B.D
Book TitleInformation & Behavior
PublisherTransaction Books
CityNew Brunswick, CA

Historically, scholars have used contemporary machines as models of the mind. Today, much of what we know about human cognition is guided by a three-stage computer model. Sensory memory is attributed with the qualities of a computer buffer store in which individual inputs are briefly maintained until a meaningful entry is recognized. Short-term memory is equivalent to the working memory of a computer, being highly flexible yet having only a limited capacity. Finally, long-term memory resembles the auxiliary store of a computer, with a virtually unlimited capacity for a variety of information. Although the computer analogy provides a useful framework for describing much of the present research on human cognition, it is insufficient in several respects. For example, it does not adequately represent the distinction between conscious and non-conscious thought. As an alternative. a corporate metaphor of the mind is suggested as a possible vehiclefor guiding future research. Depicting the mind as a corporation accommodates many aspects of cognition including consciousness. In addition, by offering a more familiar framework, a corporate model is easily applied to subjective psychological experience as well as other real world phenomena.

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