Cognitive psychologists are experts in human cognition, sensory perception, information processing, reasoning, decision-making, memory retention, and other aspects of human learning. Neuroscience, philosophy, and linguistics are related fields.
Cognitive psychologists who participate in research develop methods to improve memory retention and learning and enhance cognitive abilities.
Cognitive therapy treatment is relatively new. Historically, behaviorism dominated psychological theories and treatments. After behaviorism declined in popularity, psychologists began promoting treatments to improve learning, memory retention, and problem solving. They also began using processing and cognitive research methodologies during research. Currently, researchers consider evolutionary and genetic factors during research projects.
Cognitive psychologists specialize in the following areas:
- Perception: Psychologists with this expertise study factors affecting human interpretation.
- Attention: Psychologists specializing in attention study how humans respond to situations in different environments.
- Learning: Most cognitive psychologists are experts in human learning. They counsel patients with learning disabilities.
- Memory: Psychologists who are experts in memory study factors that affect memory retention.
- Concept Formation: Psychologists specializing in concept formation study how people organize and interpret information.
- Judgment and decision: Most cognitive psychologists specialize in factors, environmental, social, and biological, that influence judgment and decision-making.
- Reasoning: Reasoning is the process of assessing logic and arguments. Most cognitive psychologists study factors that influence reasoning.
- Problem Solving: Changing behavior and setting goals are examples of problem solving. Cognitive psychologists often aid patients in these processes.
- Language Processing: Most cognitive psychologists are experts in language comprehension, development, and processing.
Cognitive psychologists usually participate in the following activities:
- Conducting research to improve understanding of cognitive processing.
- Teaching at colleges, universities, and secondary schools.
- Developing methods to improve memory retention.
- Treating individuals with Alzheimer’s Disease.
- Treating children with learning disabilities and memory problems.
- Treating patients with poor cognitive and language skills.
- Interviewing incarcerated prisoners to learn about cognitive processing in mentally ill and violent individuals.
Cognitive psychologists have a thoroughly understanding of human cognitive and brain function, but there are plenty of unanswered questions remaining in this field.
Education and Training
Most cognitive psychologists participating in research or clinical practice hold PhDs. Cognitive psychology doctorate programs can usually be completed in 4-5 years. Graduate students usually complete an internship before graduating.
Students earning graduate degrees in cognitive psychology typically complete courses in social psychology, research methodologies, statistics, neuroscience, behaviorism, cognitive learning, and sociology.