Cognition
Overview
In science
Science
Science is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe...

, cognition refers to mental processes. These processes include attention
Attention
Attention is the cognitive process of paying attention to one aspect of the environment while ignoring others. Attention is one of the most intensely studied topics within psychology and cognitive neuroscience....

, remembering, producing and understanding language, solving problems, and making decisions. Cognition is studied in various disciplines such as psychology, philosophy, linguistics, and computer science. Usage of the term varies in different disciplines; for example in psychology
Psychology
Psychology is the study of the mind and behavior. Its immediate goal is to understand individuals and groups by both establishing general principles and researching specific cases. For many, the ultimate goal of psychology is to benefit society...

 and cognitive science
Cognitive science
Cognitive science is the interdisciplinary scientific study of mind and its processes. It examines what cognition is, what it does and how it works. It includes research on how information is processed , represented, and transformed in behaviour, nervous system or machine...

, it usually refers to an information processing
Information processing
Information processing is the change of information in any manner detectable by an observer. As such, it is a process which describes everything which happens in the universe, from the falling of a rock to the printing of a text file from a digital computer system...

 view of an individual's psychological functions
Functionalism (philosophy of mind)
Functionalism is a theory of the mind in contemporary philosophy, developed largely as an alternative to both the identity theory of mind and behaviourism. Its core idea is that mental states are constituted solely by their functional role — that is, they are causal relations to other mental...

.
Encyclopedia
In science
Science
Science is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe...

, cognition refers to mental processes. These processes include attention
Attention
Attention is the cognitive process of paying attention to one aspect of the environment while ignoring others. Attention is one of the most intensely studied topics within psychology and cognitive neuroscience....

, remembering, producing and understanding language, solving problems, and making decisions. Cognition is studied in various disciplines such as psychology, philosophy, linguistics, and computer science. Usage of the term varies in different disciplines; for example in psychology
Psychology
Psychology is the study of the mind and behavior. Its immediate goal is to understand individuals and groups by both establishing general principles and researching specific cases. For many, the ultimate goal of psychology is to benefit society...

 and cognitive science
Cognitive science
Cognitive science is the interdisciplinary scientific study of mind and its processes. It examines what cognition is, what it does and how it works. It includes research on how information is processed , represented, and transformed in behaviour, nervous system or machine...

, it usually refers to an information processing
Information processing
Information processing is the change of information in any manner detectable by an observer. As such, it is a process which describes everything which happens in the universe, from the falling of a rock to the printing of a text file from a digital computer system...

 view of an individual's psychological functions
Functionalism (philosophy of mind)
Functionalism is a theory of the mind in contemporary philosophy, developed largely as an alternative to both the identity theory of mind and behaviourism. Its core idea is that mental states are constituted solely by their functional role — that is, they are causal relations to other mental...

. It is also used in a branch of social psychology
Social psychology
Social psychology is the scientific study of how people's thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are influenced by the actual, imagined, or implied presence of others. By this definition, scientific refers to the empirical method of investigation. The terms thoughts, feelings, and behaviors include all...

 called social cognition
Social cognition
Social cognition is the encoding, storage, retrieval, and processing, in the brain, of information relating to conspecifics, or members of the same species. At one time social cognition referred specifically to an approach to social psychology in which these processes were studied according to the...

 to explain attitudes, attribution
Attribution
Attribution may refer to:Something, such as a quality or characteristic, that is related to a particular possessor; an attribute.*Attribution , concept in copyright law requiring an author to be credited...

 and groups dynamics.

The term cognition (Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

: cognoscere, "to know", "to conceptualize" or "to recognize") refers to a faculty for the processing of information
Information
Information in its most restricted technical sense is a message or collection of messages that consists of an ordered sequence of symbols, or it is the meaning that can be interpreted from such a message or collection of messages. Information can be recorded or transmitted. It can be recorded as...

, applying knowledge, and changing preferences. Cognition, or cognitive processes, can be natural or artificial, conscious or unconscious. These processes are analyzed from different perspectives within different contexts, notably in the fields of linguistics
Linguistics
Linguistics is the scientific study of human language. Linguistics can be broadly broken into three categories or subfields of study: language form, language meaning, and language in context....

, anesthesia
Anesthesia
Anesthesia, or anaesthesia , traditionally meant the condition of having sensation blocked or temporarily taken away...

, neurology
Neurology
Neurology is a medical specialty dealing with disorders of the nervous system. Specifically, it deals with the diagnosis and treatment of all categories of disease involving the central, peripheral, and autonomic nervous systems, including their coverings, blood vessels, and all effector tissue,...

 and psychiatry
Psychiatry
Psychiatry is the medical specialty devoted to the study and treatment of mental disorders. These mental disorders include various affective, behavioural, cognitive and perceptual abnormalities...

, psychology
Psychology
Psychology is the study of the mind and behavior. Its immediate goal is to understand individuals and groups by both establishing general principles and researching specific cases. For many, the ultimate goal of psychology is to benefit society...

, philosophy
Philosophy
Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Philosophy is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational...

, anthropology
Anthropology
Anthropology is the study of humanity. It has origins in the humanities, the natural sciences, and the social sciences. The term "anthropology" is from the Greek anthrōpos , "man", understood to mean mankind or humanity, and -logia , "discourse" or "study", and was first used in 1501 by German...

, systemics
Systemics
In the context of systems science and systems philosophy, the term systemics refers to an initiative to study systems from a holistic point of view...

, computer science
Computer science
Computer science or computing science is the study of the theoretical foundations of information and computation and of practical techniques for their implementation and application in computer systems...

 and creed
Creed
A creed is a statement of belief—usually a statement of faith that describes the beliefs shared by a religious community—and is often recited as part of a religious service. When the statement of faith is longer and polemical, as well as didactic, it is not called a creed but a Confession of faith...

. Within psychology or philosophy, the concept of cognition is closely related to abstract concept
Concept
The word concept is used in ordinary language as well as in almost all academic disciplines. Particularly in philosophy, psychology and cognitive sciences the term is much used and much discussed. WordNet defines concept: "conception, construct ". However, the meaning of the term concept is much...

s such as mind
Mind
The concept of mind is understood in many different ways by many different traditions, ranging from panpsychism and animism to traditional and organized religious views, as well as secular and materialist philosophies. Most agree that minds are constituted by conscious experience and intelligent...

, intelligence
Intelligence
Intelligence has been defined in different ways, including the abilities for abstract thought, understanding, communication, reasoning, learning, planning, emotional intelligence and problem solving....

, cognition is used to refer to the mental function
Mental function
Mental processes, mental functions and cognitive processes are terms often used interchangeably to mean such functions or processes as perception, introspection, memory, creativity, imagination, conception, belief, reasoning, volition, and emotion—in...

s, mental processes
Thought
"Thought" generally refers to any mental or intellectual activity involving an individual's subjective consciousness. It can refer either to the act of thinking or the resulting ideas or arrangements of ideas. Similar concepts include cognition, sentience, consciousness, and imagination...

 (thoughts) and states of intelligent
Intelligence
Intelligence has been defined in different ways, including the abilities for abstract thought, understanding, communication, reasoning, learning, planning, emotional intelligence and problem solving....

 entities (humans
Human
Humans are the only living species in the Homo genus...

, human organizations, highly autonomous machines and artificial intelligences
Artificial intelligence
Artificial intelligence is the intelligence of machines and the branch of computer science that aims to create it. AI textbooks define the field as "the study and design of intelligent agents" where an intelligent agent is a system that perceives its environment and takes actions that maximize its...

).

Piaget's Theory of Cognitive Development

For years, sociologists and psychologists have conducted studies on cognitive development
Cognitive development
Cognitive development is a field of study in neuroscience and psychology focusing on a child's development in terms of information processing, conceptual resources, perceptual skill, language learning, and other aspects of brain development and cognitive psychology compared to an adult's point of...

 or the construction of human thought or mental processes.

Jean Piaget
Jean Piaget
Jean Piaget was a French-speaking Swiss developmental psychologist and philosopher known for his epistemological studies with children. His theory of cognitive development and epistemological view are together called "genetic epistemology"....

 was one of the more important and influential people in the field of Developmental Psychology. He believed that humans are unique in comparison to animals because we have the ability to do "abstract symbolic reasoning." His work can be compared to Lev Vygotsky, Sigmund Freud, and Erik Erikson
Erik Erikson
Erik Erikson was a Danish-German-American developmental psychologist and psychoanalyst known for his theory on social development of human beings. He may be most famous for coining the phrase identity crisis. His son, Kai T...

 who were also great contributors in the field of Developmental Psychology.

Piaget's theory of Developmental Psychology tackled cognitive development from infancy to adulthood.
Stage Age or Period Description
Sensorimotor stage Infancy Intelligence is present; motor activity but no symbols; knowledge is developing yet limited; knowledge is based on experiences/ interactions; mobility allows child to learn new things; some language skills are developed at the end of this stage
Pre-operational stage Toddler and Early Childhood Symbols or language skills are present; memory and imagination are developed; nonreversible and nonlogical thinking; egocentric thinking predominates
Concrete operational stage Elementary and Early Adolescence Logical and systematic form of intelligence; manipulation of symbols related to concrete objects; operational thinking predominates nonreversible and egocentric thinking
Formal operational stage Adolescence and Adulthood Logical use of symbols related to abstract concepts; egocentric thinking comes back early in this stage; formal thinking is uncommon

Psychology

The sort of mental processes described as cognitive are largely influenced by research which has successfully used this paradigm in the past, likely starting with Thomas Aquinas
Thomas Aquinas
Thomas Aquinas, O.P. , also Thomas of Aquin or Aquino, was an Italian Dominican priest of the Catholic Church, and an immensely influential philosopher and theologian in the tradition of scholasticism, known as Doctor Angelicus, Doctor Communis, or Doctor Universalis...

, who divided the study of behavior into two broad categories: cognitive (how we know the world), and affective
Affect (psychology)
Affect refers to the experience of feeling or emotion. Affect is a key part of the process of an organism's interaction with stimuli. The word also refers sometimes to affect display, which is "a facial, vocal, or gestural behavior that serves as an indicator of affect" .The affective domain...

 (feelings and emotions). Consequently, this description tends to apply to processes such as memory
Memory
In psychology, memory is an organism's ability to store, retain, and recall information and experiences. Traditional studies of memory began in the fields of philosophy, including techniques of artificially enhancing memory....

, association
Association of Ideas
Association of Ideas, or Mental association, is a term used principally in the history of philosophy and of psychology to refer to explanations about the conditions under which representations arise in consciousness, and also for a principle put forward by an important historical school of thinkers...

, concept formation, pattern recognition
Pattern recognition
In machine learning, pattern recognition is the assignment of some sort of output value to a given input value , according to some specific algorithm. An example of pattern recognition is classification, which attempts to assign each input value to one of a given set of classes...

, language
Language
Language may refer either to the specifically human capacity for acquiring and using complex systems of communication, or to a specific instance of such a system of complex communication...

, attention
Attention
Attention is the cognitive process of paying attention to one aspect of the environment while ignoring others. Attention is one of the most intensely studied topics within psychology and cognitive neuroscience....

, perception
Perception
Perception is the process of attaining awareness or understanding of the environment by organizing and interpreting sensory information. All perception involves signals in the nervous system, which in turn result from physical stimulation of the sense organs...

, action, problem solving
Problem solving
Problem solving is a mental process and is part of the larger problem process that includes problem finding and problem shaping. Consideredthe most complex of all intellectual functions, problem solving has been defined as higher-order cognitive process that requires the modulation and control of...

 and mental imagery. Traditionally, emotion
Emotion
Emotion is a complex psychophysiological experience of an individual's state of mind as interacting with biochemical and environmental influences. In humans, emotion fundamentally involves "physiological arousal, expressive behaviors, and conscious experience." Emotion is associated with mood,...

 was not thought of as a cognitive process. This division is now regarded as largely artificial, and much research is currently being undertaken to examine the cognitive psychology
Cognitive psychology
Cognitive psychology is a subdiscipline of psychology exploring internal mental processes.It is the study of how people perceive, remember, think, speak, and solve problems.Cognitive psychology differs from previous psychological approaches in two key ways....

 of emotion; research also includes one's awareness of their own strategies and methods of cognition called metacognition
Metacognition
Metacognition is defined as "cognition about cognition", or "knowing about knowing." It can take many forms; it includes knowledge about when and how to use particular strategies for learning or for problem solving...

 and includes metamemory
Metamemory
Metamemory, one component of metacognition, is about one’s memory capabilities and strategies that can aid memory, as well as the processes involved in memory self-monitoring. This self-awareness of memory has important implications for how people learn and use memories...

.

Empirical research into cognition is usually scientific and quantitative, or involves creating models to describe or explain certain behaviors.

While few people would deny that cognitive processes are a function of the brain
Brain
The brain is the center of the nervous system in all vertebrate and most invertebrate animals—only a few primitive invertebrates such as sponges, jellyfish, sea squirts and starfishes do not have one. It is located in the head, usually close to primary sensory apparatus such as vision, hearing,...

, a cognitive theory will not necessarily make reference to the brain or other biological process (compare neurocognitive
Neurocognitive
Neurocognitive is a term used to describe cognitive functions closely linked to the function of particular areas, neural pathways, or cortical networks in the brain substrate layers of neurological matrix at the cellular molecular level...

). It may purely describe behavior in terms of information flow or function. Relatively recent fields of study such as cognitive science
Cognitive science
Cognitive science is the interdisciplinary scientific study of mind and its processes. It examines what cognition is, what it does and how it works. It includes research on how information is processed , represented, and transformed in behaviour, nervous system or machine...

 and neuropsychology
Neuropsychology
Neuropsychology studies the structure and function of the brain related to specific psychological processes and behaviors. The term neuropsychology has been applied to lesion studies in humans and animals. It has also been applied to efforts to record electrical activity from individual cells in...

 aim to bridge this gap, using cognitive paradigms to understand how the brain implements these information-processing functions (see also cognitive neuroscience
Cognitive neuroscience
Cognitive neuroscience is an academic field concerned with the scientific study of biological substrates underlying cognition, with a specific focus on the neural substrates of mental processes. It addresses the questions of how psychological/cognitive functions are produced by the brain...

), or how pure information-processing systems (e.g., computers) can simulate cognition (see also artificial intelligence
Artificial intelligence
Artificial intelligence is the intelligence of machines and the branch of computer science that aims to create it. AI textbooks define the field as "the study and design of intelligent agents" where an intelligent agent is a system that perceives its environment and takes actions that maximize its...

). The branch of psychology that studies brain injury to infer normal cognitive function is called cognitive neuropsychology
Cognitive neuropsychology
Cognitive neuropsychology is a branch of cognitive psychology that aims to understand how the structure and function of the brain relates to specific psychological processes. It places a particular emphasis on studying the cognitive effects of brain injury or neurological illness with a view to...

. The links of cognition to evolution
Evolution
Evolution is any change across successive generations in the heritable characteristics of biological populations. Evolutionary processes give rise to diversity at every level of biological organisation, including species, individual organisms and molecules such as DNA and proteins.Life on Earth...

ary demands are studied through the investigation of animal cognition
Animal cognition
Animal cognition is the title given to the study of the mental capacities of non-human animals. It has developed out of comparative psychology, but has also been strongly influenced by the approach of ethology, behavioral ecology, and evolutionary psychology...

. And conversely, evolutionary-based perspectives can inform hypotheses about cognitive functional systems evolutionary psychology
Evolutionary psychology
Evolutionary psychology is an approach in the social and natural sciences that examines psychological traits such as memory, perception, and language from a modern evolutionary perspective. It seeks to identify which human psychological traits are evolved adaptations, that is, the functional...

.

The theoretical school of thought derived from the cognitive approach is often called cognitivism
Cognitivism (psychology)
In psychology, cognitivism is a theoretical framework for understanding the mind that came into usage in the 1950s. The movement was a response to behaviorism, which cognitivists said neglected to explain cognition...

.

The phenomenal success of the cognitive approach can be seen by its current dominance as the core model in contemporary psychology (usurping behaviorism
Behaviorism
Behaviorism , also called the learning perspective , is a philosophy of psychology based on the proposition that all things that organisms do—including acting, thinking, and feeling—can and should be regarded as behaviors, and that psychological disorders are best treated by altering behavior...

 in the late 1950s).
Cognition is severely damaged in dementia.

Cognition as social process

For every individual, the social context in which he's embedded provides the symbols of his representation and linguistic expression. The human society sets the environment where the newborn will be socialized and develop his cognition. For example, face perception
Face perception
Face perception is the process by which the brain and mind understand and interpret the face, particularly the human face.The human face's proportions and expressions are important to identify origin, emotional tendencies, health qualities, and some social information. From birth, faces are...

 in human babies emerges by the age of two months: young children at a playground or swimming pool develop their social recognition by being exposed to multiple faces and associating the experiences to those faces. Education
Education
Education in its broadest, general sense is the means through which the aims and habits of a group of people lives on from one generation to the next. Generally, it occurs through any experience that has a formative effect on the way one thinks, feels, or acts...

 has the explicit task in society
Society
A society, or a human society, is a group of people related to each other through persistent relations, or a large social grouping sharing the same geographical or virtual territory, subject to the same political authority and dominant cultural expectations...

 of developing cognition. Choices are made regarding the environment
Social environment
The social environment of an individual, also called social context or milieu, is the culture that s/he was educated or lives in, and the people and institutions with whom the person interacts....

 and permitted action that lead to a formed experience
Experience
Experience as a general concept comprises knowledge of or skill in or observation of some thing or some event gained through involvement in or exposure to that thing or event....

.

Language acquisition is an example of an emergent behavior. From a large systemic perspective, cognition is considered closely related to the social and human organization functioning and constrains. For example, the macro-choices made by the teachers influence the micro-choices made by students.

See also

In addition to the topics below, see the List of thinking-related topics


  • Cognitive bias
    Cognitive bias
    A cognitive bias is a pattern of deviation in judgment that occurs in particular situations. Implicit in the concept of a "pattern of deviation" is a standard of comparison; this may be the judgment of people outside those particular situations, or may be a set of independently verifiable...

  • Cognitive dissonance
    Cognitive dissonance
    Cognitive dissonance is a discomfort caused by holding conflicting ideas simultaneously. The theory of cognitive dissonance proposes that people have a motivational drive to reduce dissonance. They do this by changing their attitudes, beliefs, and actions. Dissonance is also reduced by justifying,...

  • Cognitive linguistics
    Cognitive linguistics
    In linguistics, cognitive linguistics refers to the branch of linguistics that interprets language in terms of the concepts, sometimes universal, sometimes specific to a particular tongue, which underlie its forms...

  • Cognitive module
    Cognitive module
    A cognitive module is, in theories of the modularity of mind and the closely related society of mind theory, a specialised tool or sub-unit that can be used by other parts to resolve cognitive tasks. The question of their existence and nature is a major topic in cognitive science and evolutionary...

  • Cognitive space
  • Cognitive style
    Cognitive style
    Cognitive style or "thinking style" is a term used in cognitive psychology to describe the way individuals think, perceive and remember information. Cognitive style differs from cognitive ability , the latter being measured by aptitude tests or so-called intelligence tests...

  • Comparative Cognition
    Comparative Cognition
    Comparative cognition is the comparative study of the mechanisms and origins of cognition in various species.From a biological point of view, work is being done on the brains of fruit flies that should yield techniques precise enough to allow an understanding of the workings of the human brain on a...

  • Decade of the Mind
    Decade of the Mind
    The Decade of the Mind Project is an international initiative to advance our scientific understanding of how the mind and complex behaviors are related to the activity of human brains. The problem of explaining the mind is so complex as to require "big science" to make real progress...

  • Educational psychology
    Educational psychology
    Educational psychology is the study of how humans learn in educational settings, the effectiveness of educational interventions, the psychology of teaching, and the social psychology of schools as organizations. Educational psychology is concerned with how students learn and develop, often focusing...


  • Embodied cognition
    Embodied cognition
    Philosophers, psychologists, cognitive scientists and artificial intelligence researchers who study embodied cognition and the embodied mind believe that the nature of the human mind is largely determined by the form of the human body. They argue that all aspects of cognition, such as ideas,...

  • Functional neuroimaging
    Functional neuroimaging
    Functional neuroimaging is the use of neuroimaging technology to measure an aspect of brain function, often with a view to understanding the relationship between activity in certain brain areas and specific mental functions...

  • Gestalt psychology
    Gestalt psychology
    Gestalt psychology or gestaltism is a theory of mind and brain of the Berlin School; the operational principle of gestalt psychology is that the brain is holistic, parallel, and analog, with self-organizing tendencies...

  • Holonomic brain theory
    Holonomic brain theory
    The holonomic brain theory, originated by psychologist Karl Pribram and initially developed in collaboration with physicist David Bohm, is a model for human cognition that is drastically different from conventionally accepted ideas: Pribram and Bohm posit a model of cognitive function as being...

  • Intentionality
    Intentionality
    The term intentionality was introduced by Jeremy Bentham as a principle of utility in his doctrine of consciousness for the purpose of distinguishing acts that are intentional and acts that are not...

  • List of cognitive scientists
  • Molecular Cellular Cognition
    Molecular cellular cognition
    Molecular cellular cognition is that branch of neuroscience that involves the study of cognitive processes with approaches that integrate molecular, cellular and behavioral mechanisms...

  • Numerical cognition
    Numerical cognition
    Numerical cognition is a subdiscipline of cognitive science that studies the cognitive, developmental and neural bases of numbers and mathematics. As with many cognitive science endeavors, this is a highly interdisciplinary topic, and includes researchers in cognitive psychology, developmental...

  • Personal knowledge management
    Personal knowledge management
    Personal knowledge management refers to a collection of processes that an individual carries out to gather, classify, store, search, retrieve, and share knowledge in his/her daily activities and how these processes support work activities...


  • Philosophy of mind
    Philosophy of mind
    Philosophy of mind is a branch of philosophy that studies the nature of the mind, mental events, mental functions, mental properties, consciousness and their relationship to the physical body, particularly the brain. The mind-body problem, i.e...

  • Jean Piaget
    Jean Piaget
    Jean Piaget was a French-speaking Swiss developmental psychologist and philosopher known for his epistemological studies with children. His theory of cognitive development and epistemological view are together called "genetic epistemology"....

  • Santiago theory of cognition
    Santiago Theory of Cognition
    Biologists, Humberto Maturana and Francisco Varela contributed their Santiago theory of cognition in which they wrote:Living systems are cognitive systems, and living as a process is a process of cognition...

  • Situated cognition
    Situated cognition
    Situated cognition poses that knowing is inseparable from doing by arguing that all knowledge is situated in activity bound to social, cultural and physical contexts....

  • Spatial Cognition
    Spatial cognition
    Spatial cognition is concerned with the acquisition, organization, utilization, and revision of knowledge about spatial environments. These capabilities enable humans to manage basic and high-level cognitive tasks in everyday life...

  • Theory of cognitive development
    Theory of cognitive development
    Piaget's theory of cognitive development is a comprehensive theory about the nature and development of human intelligence first developed by Jean Piaget. It is primarily known as a developmental stage theory, but in fact, it deals with the nature of knowledge itself and how humans come gradually to...

  • Theory of mind
    Theory of mind
    Theory of mind is the ability to attribute mental states—beliefs, intents, desires, pretending, knowledge, etc.—to oneself and others and to understand that others have beliefs, desires and intentions that are different from one's own...

  • Wason selection task
    Wason selection task
    Devised in 1966 by Peter Cathcart Wason, the Wason selection task, one of the most famous tasks in the psychology of reasoning, is a logic puzzle which is formally equivalent to the following question:...



Wikipedia portals
  • Portal:philosophy
  • Portal:thinking

Further reading

  • Lycan, W.G., (ed.). (1999). Mind and Cognition: An Anthology, 2nd Edition. Malden, Mass: Blackwell Publishers, Inc.

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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