Why Does Cognitive Psychology Consider the Computer to Be Good Analogy of the Human Brain?


Vincent White

Cognitive psychology is a branch of psychology that focuses on the study of mental processes, including how people perceive, think, learn, and remember. As the field has evolved over time, researchers have sought to understand the workings of the human brain through a variety of methods and models.

One such model that has gained widespread acceptance in cognitive psychology is the computer analogy. This analogy posits that the human brain functions much like a computer in terms of information processing and storage.

But why exactly does cognitive psychology consider the computer to be a good analogy for the human brain? Here are some key reasons:

1. Information processing

At its core, the computer analogy suggests that both computers and human brains process information in a similar way. Just as a computer takes in input (such as keystrokes or mouse clicks), processes it using various algorithms and operations, and produces output (such as an image or text file), the brain also takes in sensory input, processes it using neural networks and other mechanisms, and produces behavioral output.

2. Storage capacity

Another reason why cognitive psychologists often use computers as an analogy for the brain is because of their shared capacity for storing vast amounts of information. Just as hard drives on computers can store terabytes of data, our brains can hold countless memories, thoughts, and experiences over our lifetimes.

What are some criticisms of this analogy?

While many researchers find the computer analogy to be useful for understanding certain aspects of cognition and neurology, others have raised concerns about its limitations.

For example:

  • Some argue that computers lack true consciousness or subjective experience – something that sets them apart from humans.
  • Others point out that while computers are designed to perform specific tasks efficiently (such as complex calculations), brains are much more adaptable and versatile in their functions.
  • Finally, some argue that the brain is simply too complex and nuanced to be truly captured by a simple analogy like a computer.


Despite these criticisms, the computer analogy remains a widely-used framework for understanding the workings of the human brain. By drawing parallels between these two powerful information processors, cognitive psychologists have made significant progress in unlocking some of the mysteries of cognition and perception. However, it’s important to continue exploring other models and frameworks as well – after all, the brain is one of the most complex and fascinating structures in existence!