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Culture and Cognition

A collection of critical essays

Edited By Shamsul Haque and Elizabeth Sheppard

The past few decades have seen a huge increase in global interest in psychology, with more psychologists, psychology programmes and students than ever before. Culture and Cognition: A collection of critical essays is made up of chapters written by experts in each topic, and is aimed at those wishing to learn more about psychology. While culture and cognition have frequently been regarded as separate areas of study in psychology, this book brings together essays on both of these topics as well as several that consider the direct interplay between culture and thinking.
Essays focus on a range of fascinating topics, such as how culture affects memory for events in our own lives or our perceptions of human attractiveness. Essays also address a diverse range of psychological phenomena like déjà-vu, savant abilities, non-suicidal self-injury, theory of mind, problem gambling and sleep disorders. Socio-cultural and professional issues specifically within the Asian context are also discussed.
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Model systems of thought: A neuroscience perspective on cognitive frameworks

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One of the core issues in psychology and neuroscience research is that the nervous systems and behavior of human beings are complex, yet laboratory experiments must be kept relatively simple in order to be well-controlled and thus provide definitive answers to research questions. In this chapter, I first discuss how “model organisms” are used to reduce the complexity of scientific investigations in low-level (cellular) neuroscience research; that is, even if researchers are ultimately interested in the human mind and brain, it is often easier to begin by asking reduced forms of their questions about animals with simpler nervous systems, and attempt to build towards an understanding of increasingly complex systems. A similar approach can be taken in psychological studies of human beings. It is impossible to simultaneously examine all the multitude of factors that drive human behavior, so instead we must study individual facets of human behavior in the laboratory, and hope to build towards a more unified understanding. Here, I argue for a “component process” approach to studying human thought, wherein we use extremely simple laboratory tasks in an effort to identify fundamental “building blocks” of cognition that may form the basis of more complex thoughts and behaviors.

Model systems

As a scientist, one of my pet peeves is when media pundits or public figures take scientific investigations to task without properly understanding the context of the research. For example, in my home country (the ← 151 | 152 → United States), one might hear political...

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