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Question: Critically discuss how the information-processing theory compares the functioning of a computer to explain human cognition and thinking development.
The Information-Processing Theory explains human cognition and thinking development primarily through a computational lens. Essentially, it equates the mechanism by which our brain processes information to how a computer operates, with information being taken in, processed, stored, and later retrieved. 1. Input: Similar to how a computer receives data, humans receive information through senses. This input of external stimuli is akin to the data that one would input through a keyboard or a mouse in a computer system. 2. Processing: Humans use cognitive processes to interpret and understand the input. This processing is equivalent to the computation performed by a computer's Central Processing Unit (CPU). Just as a CPU uses logic and arithmetic operations to process data, humans use cognitive operations like attention, perception, and memory to process incoming data. 3. Memory: Our brain stores information in three different categories, namely sensory memory, short-term memory, and long-term memory. This is parallel to how a computer uses RAM for short-term data storage and hard drive for long-term storage. 4. Output: Just as a computer displays processed data or executes commands, humans generate outputs, such as verbal responses, actions, thoughts, or emotions, based on the information that has been processed. Although the Information-Processing Theory provides valuable insight into understanding cognitive development, there are a few limitations. First, it oversimplifies human cognitive operations. Unlike computers, the human mind feels emotions, deals with unpredictable and irrational actions and does not always follow binary logic. Second, the theory cannot entirely explain creativity and spontaneous thought generated by the human brain, which a computer lacks. Last, it fails to account for social, cultural, and ecological factors that influence human cognition and thinking development. In conclusion, while the Information-Processing Theory offers a comprehensive and easy-to-understand framework for thinking and cognitive development, it should be complemented with other theories to get a holistic understanding of human cognition.
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