Theories of Knowledge and Psychological Applications

Robin A. Finlayson
University of Saskatchewan
Ed.Psy: 855.3: Advanced Educational Psychology
October 16, 1996

How individuals are able to obtain knowledge is something that
psychologists have studied for a number of years. The ability to store and
retrieve knowledge provides individuals with the propensity to form logical
thought, express emotions and internalize the world around them. In order for a
psychologist to understand the theories of knowledge it is necessary to
investigate the aspects of the theories. In this paper we examine the history ,
the basic construct, the similarities of the theories and how those theories
relate to psychological therapies. History of the theories
The neural network model attempts to explain that which is known about
the retention and retrieval of knowledge. Neural network models have been
examined for a number of years. In the mid 1940\'s and 1950\'s the first of the
network models began to appear. These publications introduced the first models
of neural networks as computing machines, the basic model of a self-organizing
network (Arbib, 1995).
In 1943 McCulloch and Pitts published their model theory ( Arbib, 1995). In
1948 Rashevsky proposed a number of neural network models to explain
psychological phenomena. During this era not enough was known about the brain,
subsequently he was considered ahead of his time. Rashevsky relied heavily upon
complex mathematical equations within his model, consequently many people simply
did not understand his theoretical perspective ( Martindale, 1991). In 1958
Rosenblatt proposed his theory on neural network models which focused on
perception. The theory elicited a great deal of interest; however it was
considered too simple to sufficiently explain all aspects of perception (Arbib,
As a result of the lack of acceptance, neural network models "fell out
of fashion"(Martindale, 1991, P.12). For a nine year lapse no neural network
model theories were developed. In 1967 the network approach was again examined.
Konorski developed a useful network model that focused primarily on Pavlovian
conditioning as opposed to cognition. Grossberg developed his neural network
theory during the years of 1969, 1980, 1987, and 1988. Grossberg developed a
powerful network theory of the mind but, like the Rashevsky model, Grossberg\'s
theory was comprised of complex mathematical terms and was therefore extremely
difficult to understand. His neural network models are only now being recognized
as truly revolutionary (Martindale, 1991).
Many new theorists would enter the field of neural network models, but
it was the work of Rumelhart, Hinton, and McClelland that would simplify the way
we would view such models (Arbib, 1995). It was in 1986 that Rumelhart, Hinton,
and McClelland developed their network model. It was and still is regarded as
one of the most notable network theories. This is true because they structured
their theory in a clear, concise, and intelligible manner (Martindale ,1991).
Neural network models have evolved during the past sixty years. The
initial theories were extremely difficult to comprehend and they were not
interchangeable with a broad range of topics. Today\'s theories are simpler to
understand because they are less complex. The theories are capable of
encompassing numerous topics.
The dual coding approach is one that believes that knowledge is a series
of complex associative networks. Within these networks we find imaginal and
verbal representations. These verbal and nonverbal representations are means
that facilitate the retrieval and storage of knowledge (Paivio, 1986).
The individual who was at the fore front of the development of the dual
coding theory was Allan Paivio. He did research in the area of verbal and
nonverbal representations during the 1960\'s. Research papers that dealt with
topics of verbal and imaginal processes were: Abstractness, imagery, and
meaningfulness in paired-associated learning (1965) ; Latency of verbal
associations and imagery to noun stimuli as a function abstractness and
generality (1966) and; Mental imagery in associative learning and memory (1969),
( Paivio, 1986). In 1971 Allan Paivio presented his revolutionary paper, Imagery
and Verbal Processes. As a result of this paper the concept of a dual coding
process was conceived.
Paivio\'s subsequent paper in 1985, Mental Representations, retained the
same constructive empiricism and the same basic theoretical assumptions as the
earlier paper, Imagery and Verbal Processes. In this paper Paivio demonstrated
that the fundamentals of a dual coding approach have stood up well to challenges
over the years ( Paivio, 1986).
The dual coding process offers a clear explanation of how individuals
are able to store and retrieve knowledge. Through Paivio\'s dual coding approach
we are able to see how internal networks of verbal and imaginal representations
are capable of logging and retrieving information both nonverbally and verbally.

Construct of the theories

There are a number of theories that explain how it is