Cognitive Processes Associated With Critical Thinking

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This area of the brain is what we now refer to as Wernicke’s area and these two findings together provided important evidence for theories related to functional localization within the brain, a theory separate from previous ideas related to the study of phrenology.

Around the turn of the 20th century, experimental research stemming out of the first experimental labs of Wilhelm Wundt and Ernst Weber in German, and Charles Bell in Britain lead to the experimental study of behavior beginning with Edward Thorndike’s Law of Effect (1898) which describes how behavior can be shaped by conditions and patterns of reinforcement.

Shortly after Broca’s publication documenting language deficits related to damage to the lateral frontal cortex, the German physician, psychiatrist and anatomist Carl Wernicke noticed that not all language deficits were related to damage to Broca’s area.

Wernicke found that damage to the left posterior and superior temporal gyrus resulted in deficits in language comprehension as opposed to language production.

For example, many decisions we make about choosing to do something or retaining from doing something involve cognitive processes related to weighing options and making comparisons to other events in memory.

However, cognition has been argued to not be involved in all the actions we make such as reflexes that recoil your hand after touching an extremely hot surface which operates on automatic feedback loops between the effector and spinal cord.

Although discussions and descriptions of thought processes can be dated back millennia to societies such as the ancient Greeks, Egyptians and Maya, the formal scientific study of cognition is relatively new, growing out of philosophical debates including Rene Descartes 16th century arguments suggesting humans are born with innate knowledge and the that the mind and body reflect two different entities, a theory known as substance dualism.

From Descartes theories in the 16th century major debates formed on whether human thought is created solely through the stimulation of our sense organs (empiricism), or that we are born with innate knowledge which allows us to form language and maintain conscious experience (nativism).

Supporters of empiricist views included philosophers such as George Berkeley an Irish bishop who denied the existence of material substance suggesting objects we interact with are only ideas in the minds of the perceivers, and John Locke, an English philosopher who founded the study of theory of mind which bread modern conceptions of identity and the self, while supporters of nativism included Immanuel Kant, a German philosopher who argued that the human mind creates the structure of human experience and that the world as it is, is independent of humanities concepts of it.

These arguments in philosophy would later lead to important advancements by way of two discoveries in the 19th century by Paul Broca and Carl Wernicke.

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