Essay on Cognitive Maps in Rats and Men

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Cognitive Maps in Rats and Men Edward Chance Tolman made many significant findings to the studies of learning , memory and motivation. By today's standards he would be considered a behaviorist. “He is best remembered for being a pioneer in cognitive psychology during a time when behaviorists dominated the field. Tolman made several significant contributions to the field of psychology. At Berkeley University he created a cognitive theory of learning, which became his trademark to the field. He thought of learning as developing from bits of knowledge and cognition about the environment and how the organism relates to it “(Kimble et al, 1991). Tolman's experiment questions whether complex internal cognitive activity occurs in an…show more content…
In his studies of rats, Tolman aimed to demonstrate that animals could learn facts about the world that they could subsequently use in a flexible manner, rather than simply learning automatic responses that were triggered off by environmental stimuli. According to Tolman cognitive maps are tools we use to construct and store spatial knowledge, they allow the mind to visualize images in order to reduce cognitive load, and enhance recall and learning of information. It is this map that indicates paths and environmental relationships, which inevitably determines what responses the organism will make .Tolman noted that learning involves the learner's creation of cognitive maps or internal schemas, that are not specifically, directly or instantly tied to performance. This means that new concepts are learned but not necessarily put into action immediately. This is the basic principle of latent learning , a theory which leads Tolman away from behaviorism and toward cognitive behaviorism. Cognitive behaviorism states that there is a purpose for all of an organism's behaviors. “Like Gestaltists, Tolman believed that looking at stimuli and responses alone is not an effective way of studying animal and human behavior. Unlike many other behaviorists, Tolman theorized about internal mental aspects of behavior. For example, as rats go through mazes, they create cognitive maps that they rely upon to

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