The cognitive revolution is a series of events that relate to the middle of the XX century when science developed an interest in human cognitive processes and their peculiarities. In fact, this surge affected not only psychology but also a whole range of related sciences. Therefore, the emergence of cognitive psychology, cognitive science as an interdisciplinary research field started to interest researches in the 50-ies of XX century. These sciences include linguistics, neuroscience, computer science, philosophy and anthropology of consciousness. The goal of this essay is to analyze the essence and development of the cognitive revolution.

Preconditions and Approaches of the Cognitive Revolution

The cognitive revolution in psychology was a counter-revolution. In fact, psychology as a science started from the analysis of human cognition. In the middle of the XIX, researches created psychophysics that measured the association between exposure and feeling, and formulated psychophysical and mathematical laws. At the end of the XIX century, the founder of experimental psychology Wilhelm Wundt studied the structure of consciousness and measured the amount of attention. At the same time, researches started the experimental studies of memory. At the beginning of the XX, the direction, which was called behaviorism came out to the fore in the American psychology. Proponents of this theory, especially the psychologist John Watson, declared that it is impossible to provide a scientific study of the subjective experience of what is happening in the mind of a person. In fact, psychologists of this direction worked with a number of methods. Researchers peered inside and gave a report on what is going on in their heads. The behaviorists argued that it is impossible to learn what cannot be observed externally, cannot be replicated in any other laboratory, and cannot be fixed with the help of special equipment. They began to offer to study the behavior as a set of external reactions to the same external stimuli. Moreover, with the 10-ies of the XX century, behaviorism dominated as a scientific discipline in the American psychology. While in the 30s, the situation began to change because there was evidence that it is impossible to describe the behavior based on only the external influences and external reactions. Scientists have created a new direction that called new behaviorism. This direction developed a special notion, which they explained in one interesting example. Thus, when scientists describe the motion of a laboratory mouse in a maze, they must allow the existence of purpose in the mouse. Besides, the mouse may have a general idea of the labyrinth, and it is a principle of operation. This approach has been called cognitive maps. In particular, Edward Chace Tolman formulated the idea of the intermediate variables, to which he attributed the goals and cognitive maps as a black box between the external action and external reaction. In fact, cognitive psychology has grown into the consequences of these provisions.


Intelligence in Europe and Intellectual Inventions

The investigations of learning continued in Europe, but they were relatively isolated. In England, Frederick Charles Bartlett studied the features of human memory and introduced an essential notion for cognitive psychology, a scheme as the concept of knowledge as a circuit pack. Bartlett invented ways of organizing experience, based on which people remodel received, heard, and learned information. In Switzerland, Jean Piaget conducted research on human intelligence and its levels of development. In USSR, Alexander Luria built a concept of a systemic organization of the dynamic localization of higher mental functions and analyzed how knowledge is represented in the brain. American psychology developed in line with behaviorism and focused on the study of behavior. At the same time, computer science began to develop. An idea of the universal Turing machine, ideas about the general architecture of the John von Neumann’s computer, Claude Shannon’s theory of communication, and Wiener’s foundations of cybernetics as the science of managing artificial living systems have changed the possibilities of possible human achievements. Theses researches provided an idea that people can build a computer that would think like a man. After these inventions, everyone realized that no one understands how a person thinks. As a result, scientists, pushed by these requests, appealed to the research of knowledge. After these requests, a cognitive revolution was accomplished.

Intellectual Reports and the Beginning of the Cognitive Era

The start of cognitive revolution had occurred on 11 September 1956, when the Massachusetts Institute of Technology held the second day of the symposium on the problems of information processing. In fact, there were many interesting reports on the first day, but on the second day, researchers provided three reports that laid the foundation for the study of knowledge from the position of cognitive approach. The first speaker was the linguist Noam Chomsky with a report “Three Models for the Description of Language”, in which he contrasted the model of probability, stochastic structure model of what is happening in his head, as an important component of the generation and understanding the speech. The second speaker psychologist George Miller, a person with an outstanding reputation, provided the report “The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two: Some Limits on Our Capacity for Processing Information.” Miller presented a model of working memory, and short-term memory with a cell type. In fact, this process was based on the computer metaphor. Miller presented a short-term memory as a set of cells, which can be written to the structural units of information, and if it was necessary to supplement it by new, a person must erase an old. The third report, which made a political scientist and mathematician Herbert Simon and programmer Allen Newell, made an incredible contribution to the development of cognitive psychology. They presented the world’s first model of artificial intelligence that was called “Logic Theorist.” This invention was the first attempt to describe human thinking in the language of a computer program, and at the same time, it was a working model that proved the logic theorems of Bertrand Russell and Alfred North Whitehead. The model was constructed to use data and solve different problems as a person. Thus, this computer program used the protocols of real human judgments. However, such association of representatives of various sciences noticed the interesting conclusions. Firstly, people from different areas of knowledge began to work on some single and common theme. They strived to understand how a person perceives the world. Secondly, researches were interested in all internal processes rather than external action, and the external reactions. Thirdly, most of the arguments were based on the computer metaphor, thus, the comparison of the mind and human knowledge with the computer operation. Therefore, the massive cognitive studies began after this prominent symposium.

The Rise of the Cognitive Revolution

In the same 1956, there was the first Symposium on Artificial Intelligence. Besides, many seminal works came out this year. For example, a well-known work on the formation of concepts, written by Harvard psychologist Jerome Bruner, who has established the first Harvard Center for Cognitive Studies in 1960. However, the first magazine devoted to cognitive research and cognitive science, and the first Cognitive Science Society were created after 15 years of the symposium. In fact, the representatives of western and eastern coasts of America could not agree on who will manage the processes and create the main elements of the work of a science society. Harvard and the University of Massachusetts had a confrontation with the University of California at San Diego. In fact, they held a congress in Dallas, at the Texas airport. As a result, the representatives signed a paper about the establishment of the organization in Dallas, but the conference was held in California. A year later, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation has started a large-scale funding for cognitive research. In 1981, they founded the first university programs, and research centers. After these events, cognitive science began to develop as rapidly and intensively as it is developing now. In the late 70, there was the famous cognitive hexagon, which included experimental psychology of cognitive processes that dominated in the early stages of the development of cognitive science. Besides, the neuroscience, linguistics, computer science, cultural anthropology, and philosophy of mind became general elements of a hexagon. All these subjects were interlinked with each other, and cognitive studies begun at the joints between them but not inside them. For example, the researchers began in the field of psycholinguistics, neuropsychology, philosophy, computer science, and philosophy of artificial intelligence. At the same time, people created the first Nobel Prize for cognitive research. Herbert Simon, a creator of the first model of artificial intelligence, was the first who received this prize. At about the same area psychologist Daniel Kahneman received the Nobel Prize for his description of the basic mistakes and pitfalls of human thinking in making economic decisions. Therefore, cognitive revolution received international recognition.


Therefore, cognitive psychology is an area of psychology that studies the processes of cognition in humans. Representatives from several disciplines have come to understand that the solution of many important issues needs assistance from other sciences. Therefore, many scientists began to cooperate in order to achieve success and marked the start of the cognitive revolution. Thus, the term cognitive scientists is a right definition, as it marks the complex areas of research knowledge and thinking, which includes linguistics, computer science, cultural anthropology, and philosophy of mind. Cognitive psychologists studied how people get their information about the world, and how the information presented in a brain and transformed into knowledge. Besides, they searched how this knowledge affects our attention and behavior. Since the 1970s, cognitive psychology began to occupy prominent areas of research and therapeutic practice. However, cognitive psychology is not a theory of personality. This theory does not form a single system, but incorporates many theories and types of therapeutic practice with different objectives and methods. Universal inventions, the development of computer science and cybernetics has pushed scientists to create a computer that would be thinking as a person. As a result, scientists have begun to understand that they do not know how a person thinks. For the solution of this issue psychologists integrated with the best mathematicians, computer scientists, linguists and political scientists. When researches created the world’s first model of artificial intelligence, people have seen the result of unification of scientific intelligence and the power of a cognitive revolution. Over the years, scientists have created a society of cognitive science and then science funds started a large-scale funding for cognitive research. After a series of discoveries and promotion, cognitive revolution has gained worldwide recognition. Therefore, the cognitive revolution was a world scientific phenomenon and intellectual unification that created the fundamental discoveries to the world.