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A mechanical, repetitive procedure for solving a problem or testing every hypothesis


Strategies for simplifying a problem and generating a satisfactory guess


Thoroughly considering every possibility to find the best one (use of algorithm)


Searching only until you find something satisfactory (use of heuristics)

Who makes better choices?

• Maximizers usually make better choices but have more difficulty in making a choice and are less satisfied with their choices

Representativeness heuristic.

The assumption that an item that resembles members of some category is also in that category

Base-rate information.

How common the two categories are

Availability heuristic.

The tendency to assume that if we easily think of examples of a category, then that category must be common

When are people overconfident? Underconfident?

• On difficult questions
• On easy questions

Confirmation bias.

Accepting a hypothesis and then looking for evidence to support it instead of considering other possibilities

Functional fixedness.

The tendency to adhere to a single approach or a single way of using an item

Framing effect.

The tendency to answer a question differently when it is framed (phrased) differently

The sunk cost effect.

The willingness to do something because of money or effort already spent

How long does expertise require?

• About 10 years of intense practice

How does developing expertise affect the brain?

• Developing expertise expands the axons and dendrites of neurons relevant to a skill

How does unconscious thinking benefit problem solving?

• Likely to choose item with more positives and fewer negatives
• More likely to be happy with their choice


The ability to combine our words into new sentences that express an unlimited variety of ideas

Transformational grammar.

A system for converting a deep structure into a surface structure

Does brain size determine language ability?

• No - normal human brain size and normal intelligence do not automatically produce language

Language acquisition device.

A built-in mechanism for acquiring language

What evidence is there of language acquisition device? (2)

• Deaf children invent a sign language of their own
• Children learn to use complex grammatical structures even though they don't hear that kind of expression very often

How does damage to Broca's area (Broca's aphasia) affect language?

• Especially impaired with using and understanding grammatical devices

How does damage to Wernicke's area (Wernicke's aphasia) affect language?

• Impaired recall of nouns and impaired comprehension of language, despite the ability to speak fluently and grammatically

When do children string words into combinations they have not heard before?

• Once they speak 2-word combinations (around 2 years old)

What happens to children who are not exposed to language?

• A child who doesn't learn a language while young is permanently impaired at learning one

Name 2 advantages of being bilingual.

• Can communicate with more people
• Gain practice in controlling attention, shifting from on language frame to another; improve the skills needed for controlling attention in other areas such as tasks that require someone to ignore distractions and tasks in which the instructions change suddenly

Name 2 disadvantages of being bilingual.

• Children take longer to master two languages
• Usually don't master one as well as a person who spoke only one language

What does the way you perceive a word depend on?

• Context

What does the way you perceive a sentence depend on?

• Your knowledge of the world and all the assumptions that you share with the speaker or writer of the sentence

Give 3 examples of limits to our language understanding.

• Doubly embedded sentences
• Double negatives (triple negatives, etc.)
• With a single negative, people often don't fully accept the meaning of the word not (e.g. not poison)


Unit of sound


Unit of meaning

Word superiority effect.

Identify the letter more accurately when it is part of a word than when it is presented by itself

How are our perceptions and memories connected?

• Our perceptions and memories are represented by connections among "units" corresponding to sets of neurons. Each unit connects to other units. Any activated unit excited some of its neighbors and inhibits others.


When your eyes are stationary


Quick eye movements from one fixation point to another

Explain why your eyes only read during fixations. (3)

• Certain neurons in the parietal cortex monitor impending eye movements and send a message to the visual cortex
• Even in total darkness, the visual cortex decreases its activity 75 ms before the eye movement and remains depressed throughout the movement
• Blood flow to the visual cortex decreases, and responsiveness to light decreases. Activity is especially suppressed

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