Home > Glossary > Cognition

What is Cognition?

What is Cognition?

Cognition directs to “the mental action or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and the senses”. It encloses numerous elements of intellectual operations and processes such as perception, awareness, thought, concentration, knowledge formation, memory information and working memory, judgment and evaluation, reasoning and “computation”, problem-solving and judgment making, understanding and exhibition of language.

Cognitive techniques use existing wisdom and uncover new knowledge. Such information was laid latent and unused by people before the discovery of the cognitive processes. Cognitive processes are examined from diverse contexts, notably in linguistics, musicology, anesthesia, neuroscience, psychiatry, psychology, education, philosophy, anthropology, biology, systematics, logic, and computer science.

These and other methods to analyze cognition are synthesized in the budding field of cognitive science, a progressively independent academic field. The term cognition dates to the 15th century, signifying “thinking and awareness”. The phrase comes from the Latin noun cognitio, emanated from the verb cognosco, a compound of con and gnosco. The latter half itself is a cognate of a Greek verb.

Early studies on Cognition

The word cognitive itself dates back to the 15th century; attention to cognitive processes came around more than eighteen centuries earlier, starting with Aristotle (384–322 BC) and his interest in the mind’s inner workings and how they affect humans' experience. Aristotle focused on cognitive areas about memory, perception, and mental imagery.

He emphasized ensuring that his studies were based on empirical evidence, that is, scientific information gathered through observation and conscientious experimentation. Two millennia later, the base for simple concepts of cognition was spread during the Enlightenment by philosophers such as John Locke and Dugald Stewart. They strived to produce a sample of the mind in which statements were obtained, recognised and exploited.

During the early nineteenth century, cognitive standards were designed both in philosophy—especially by authors reporting about the philosophy of mind—and within medicine, particularly by physicians aiming to comprehend how to cure delirium. In Britain, thinkers such as James Sully learned these models in the academy at University College London. They were even employed by politicians when assessing the national Elementary Education Act of 1870.

As psychology materialized as a burgeoning domain of study in Europe whilst also gaining followership in America, scientists such as Wilhelm Wundt, Herman Ebbinghaus, Mary Whiton Calkins, and William James would show their assistance to the analysis of human cognition.

Cognition in Psychology

In the field of psychology, the word “cognition” is commonly employed within an input processing perspective of a person’s psychological operations, which is identical to cognitive engineering. In the analysis of social cognition, a component of social psychology, the phrase is used to describe moods, attribution, and group dynamics. Nevertheless, psychological research within cognitive science has also offered an illustrated method to grasp cognition. Defiant to the standard computationalist system, represented awareness highlights the body’s influential role in developing and evolving cognitive capabilities.

Human cognition is mindful and unconscious, tangible or conceptual, and automatic and abstract. Recollection, association, concept formation, pattern recognition, language, attention, perception, action, problem-solving, and mental imagery come within the umbrella of cognition. Conventionally, emotion was not considered a cognitive process, but now much examination is being launched to explore the cognitive psychology of emotion; analysis is also concentrated on one’s understanding of one’s strategies and processes of cognition, called metacognition. The concept of cognition has undergone several modifications through the product of domains within psychology.

Psychologists initially comprehended cognition controlling human action as information processing. This was a movement called cognitivism in the 1950s, appearing after the Behaviorist movement considered cognition as a form of conduct. Cognitivism approached cognition as a form of computation, thinking of the mind as a machine and consciousness as an organizational process.

Nevertheless, post cognitivism started to appear in the 1990s as the development of cognitive science proposed theories that emphasized the necessity of mental action as embodied, extended, and producing dynamic processes in mind. The development of Cognitive psychology arose as psychology from different theories began exploring these dynamics concerning mind and environment, starting a movement from these prior dualist paradigms that prioritized cognition as systematic computation or exclusively behavior.


Metacognition is an understanding of one’s thinking processes and practices. The phrase comes from the root word meta, indicating “beyond” or “on top”. Metacognition can take numerous formats, such as contemplating one’s ways of reflection and learning when and how to use special techniques for problem-solving. There are typically two parts of metacognition: (1) information about cognition and (2) limitation of cognition.

Metamemory, described as learning about memory and mnemonic processes, is a primary state of metacognition. Educational analysis on metacognitive processing across societies is in the early phases. Still, there are gestures that additional work may deliver more probable results in cross-cultural knowledge between teachers and students. Reports on metacognition date back at least as far as two pieces by the Greek philosopher Aristotle (384–322 BC): On the Soul and the Parva Naturalia. How to improve Cognition-

Physical Exercise

Aerobic and anaerobic exercises have been studied regarding cognitive progress. Some investigations seem to have short-term gains in concentration span and verbal and visual recollection. The results are temporary and reduced overtime after lowering physical activity.

Dietary Supplements

Analyses estimating phytoestrogen, blueberry supplementation and antioxidants delivered nominal growths in cognitive operation after supplementation but no meaningful outcomes corresponded to placebo. Pleasurable Social Stimulation

Uncovering people with cognitive impairment (i.e., Dementia) in day-to-day exercises developed to promote reflection and memory in a friendly environment seems to enhance cognition. Although examination materials are minor, and more comprehensive studies need to substantiate the outcomes, the development of social cognitive stimulation appears to be more extensive than the products of some drug therapies.

Other Methods

Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) has enhanced cognition in people without Dementia one month after therapy, likened to before treatment. The result was not particularly powerful and corresponded to the placebo. Computerized cognitive training, employing a computer-based activity control for additional cognitive functions, has been investigated in a clinical stage, but no lasting results have been shown.

Sariel Angel
Cambiel Angel