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Cognition () refers to "the mental action or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and the senses". It encompasses many aspects of
intellectual function Intellectual functioning refers to the "general mental ability that includes reasoning Reason is the capacity of consciously making sense of things, applying logic Logic (from Ancient Greek, Greek: grc, wikt:λογική, λογική, lab ...
s and processes such as:
perception Perception (from the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the powe ...

perception
,
attention Attention is the behavioral and cognitive process Cognition () refers to "the mental action or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and the senses". It encompasses many aspects of intellectual funct ...

attention
, the formation of
knowledge Knowledge is a familiarity or awareness, of someone or something, such as facts A fact is something that is truth, true. The usual test for a statement of fact is verifiability—that is whether it can be demonstrated to correspond to e ...
,
memory Memory is the faculty of the by which or is , stored, and retrieved when needed. It is the retention of information over time for the purpose of influencing future action. If s could not be remembered, it would be impossible for language, r ...

memory
and
working memory Working memory is a cognitive system with a limited capacity that can hold information temporarily. Working memory is important for reasoning and the guidance of decision-making and behavior. Working memory is often used synonymously with short-te ...
,
judgment Judgement (or US spelling judgment) is also known as ''adjudication Adjudication is the legal process by which an arbitration, arbiter or judge reviews evidence (law), evidence and argumentation, including legal reasoning set forth by opposing ...

judgment
and
evaluation Evaluation is a system A system is a group of interacting Interaction is a kind of action that occurs as two or more objects have an effect upon one another. The idea of a two-way effect is essential in the concept of interaction, as oppos ...

evaluation
,
reason Reason is the capacity of consciously applying logic Logic is an interdisciplinary field which studies truth and reasoning Reason is the capacity of consciously making sense of things, applying logic Logic (from Ancient Greek, Greek ...
ing and "
computation Computation is any type of that includes both al and non-arithmetical steps and which follows a well-defined model (e.g. an ). Mechanical or electronic devices (or, , people) that perform computations are known as ''s''. An especially well-know ...

computation
",
problem solving Problem solving consists of using generic or ad hoc Ad hoc is a Latin phrase __NOTOC__ This is a list of Wikipedia articles of Latin phrases and their translation into English. To view all phrases on a single, lengthy document, see: * L ...

problem solving
and
decision making In psychology Psychology is the science of mind and behavior. Psychology includes the study of consciousness, conscious and Unconscious mind, unconscious phenomena, as well as feeling and thought. It is an academic discipline of immense s ...

decision making
, comprehension and production of
language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the ...

language
. Cognitive processes use existing knowledge and discover new knowledge. Cognitive processes are analyzed from different perspectives within different contexts, notably in the fields of
linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise study of language. Linguistics encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying ...

linguistics
,
musicology Musicology (from Greek 'μουσική' (mousikē) for 'music' and 'λογος' (logos) for 'domain of study') is the scholarly analysis and research-based study of music Music is the of arranging s in time through the of melody, harmony ...
,
anesthesia Anesthesia or anaesthesia (from Greek "without sensation") is a state of controlled, temporary loss of sensation or awareness that is induced for medical purposes. It may include some or all of analgesia An analgesic or painkiller is any memb ...
,
neuroscience Neuroscience is the of the . It is a science that combines , , , , , and to understand the fundamental and emergent properties of s, and s. The understanding of the biological basis of , , , , and has been described by as the "epic chal ...

neuroscience
,
psychiatry Psychiatry is the devoted to the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of s. These include various s related to mood, behaviour, , and s. See . Initial psychiatric assessment of a person typically begins with a and . Physical examinations and ...
,
psychology Psychology is the scientific Science () is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge Knowledge is a familiarity or awareness, of someone or something, such as facts A fact is an occurrence in the real world. ...

psychology
,
education Education is the process of facilitating learning, or the acquisition of knowledge, skills, value (ethics), values, morals, beliefs, habits, and personal development. Educational methods include teaching, training, storytelling, discussion ...

education
,
philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about Metaphysics, existence, reason, Epistemology, knowledge, Ethics, values, Philosophy of mind, mind, and Philosophy of language, language. Such questio ...

philosophy
,
anthropology Anthropology is the scientific study of human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most abundant and widespread species In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, ...
,
biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular biology, molecular interactions, Physiology, physiological mechanisms, Development ...

biology
,
systemics In the context of systems science Systems science is an interdisciplinary Interdisciplinarity or interdisciplinary studies involves the combination of two or more academic disciplines into one activity (e.g., a research project). It draws k ...
,
logic Logic is an interdisciplinary field which studies truth and reasoning. Informal logic seeks to characterize Validity (logic), valid arguments informally, for instance by listing varieties of fallacies. Formal logic represents statements and ar ...

logic
, and
computer science Computer science deals with the theoretical foundations of information, algorithms and the architectures of its computation as well as practical techniques for their application. Computer science is the study of , , and . Computer science ...
. These and other different approaches to the analysis of cognition are synthesised in the developing field of
cognitive science Cognitive science is the interdisciplinary Interdisciplinarity or interdisciplinary studies involves the combination of two or more academic discipline An academic discipline or academic field is a subdivision of knowledge that is Educ ...

cognitive science
, a progressively autonomous
academic discipline An academic discipline or academic field is a subdivision of knowledge Knowledge is a familiarity or awareness, of someone or something, such as facts A fact is an occurrence in the real world. The usual test for a statement of fact is ...
.


Etymology

The word ''cognition'' dates back to the 15th century, where it meant "
thinking In their most common sense, the terms thought and thinking refer to conscious cognitive processes that can happen independently of sensory stimulation. Their most paradigmatic forms are judging, reasoning, concept formation, problem solving, an ...

thinking
and awareness". The term comes from the
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in relation with") is "an appa ...

Latin
noun ('examination,' 'learning,' or 'knowledge'), derived from the verb , a
compound Compound may refer to: Architecture and built environments * Compound (enclosure), a cluster of buildings having a shared purpose, usually inside a fence or wall ** Compound (fortification), a version of the above fortified with defensive structu ...
of ('with') and ('know'). The latter half, ''gnōscō'', itself is a
cognate In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most langu ...
of a
Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of ...
verb, ' ().


Early studies

Despite the word ''cognitive'' itself dating back to the 15th century, attention to ''cognitive processes'' came about more than eighteen centuries earlier, beginning with
Aristotle Aristotle (; grc-gre, Ἀριστοτέλης ''Aristotélēs'', ; 384–322 BC) was a Greek philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental quest ...

Aristotle
(384–322 BC) and his interest in the inner workings of the mind and how they affect the human experience. Aristotle focused on cognitive areas pertaining to memory, perception, and mental imagery. He placed great importance on ensuring that his studies were based on empirical evidence, that is, scientific information that is gathered through observation and conscientious experimentation. Two millennia later, the groundwork for modern concepts of cognition was laid during the
Enlightenment Enlightenment, enlighten or enlightened may refer to: Age of Enlightenment * Age of Enlightenment, period in Western intellectual history from the late 17th to late 18th century, centered in France but also encompassing: ** Midlands Enlightenment ...
by thinkers such as
John Locke John Locke (; 29 August 1632 – 28 October 1704) was an English philosopher and physician, widely regarded as one of the most influential of Enlightenment Enlightenment, enlighten or enlightened may refer to: Age of Enlightenment * ...

John Locke
and
Dugald Stewart Dugald Stewart (; 22 November 175311 June 1828) was a Scottish philosopher and mathematician. Today regarded as one of the most important figures of the later Scottish Enlightenment, he was renowned as a populariser of the work of Francis Hutc ...

Dugald Stewart
who sought to develop a model of the mind in which ideas were acquired, remembered and manipulated. During the early nineteenth century cognitive models were developed both in
philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about Metaphysics, existence, reason, Epistemology, knowledge, Ethics, values, Philosophy of mind, mind, and Philosophy of language, language. Such questio ...

philosophy
—particularly by authors writing about the
philosophy of mind Philosophy of mind is a branch of that studies the and nature of the and its relationship with the body. The is a paradigmatic issue in philosophy of mind, although a number of other issues are addressed, such as the and the nature of parti ...

philosophy of mind
—and within
medicine Medicine is the science Science () is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge Knowledge is a familiarity, awareness, or understanding of someone or something, such as facts ( descriptive knowledge), skills (proced ...

medicine
, especially by physicians seeking to understand how to cure madness. In
Britain Britain usually refers to: * United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as a synonym for the United ...

Britain
, these models were studied in the academy by scholars such as James Sully at
University College London University College London, which Trade name, operates as UCL, is a major public university , public research university located in London, United Kingdom. UCL is a Member institutions of the University of London, member institution of the Federa ...
, and they were even used by politicians when considering the national ''Elementary Education Act'' of 1870. As
psychology Psychology is the scientific Science () is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge Knowledge is a familiarity or awareness, of someone or something, such as facts A fact is an occurrence in the real world. ...

psychology
emerged as a burgeoning field of study in
Europe Europe is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven geographical regions are commonly regarded as continents. Ordered ...

Europe
, whilst also gaining a following in
America The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country primarily located in North America North America is a continent entirely within the Northern Hemisphere and a ...

America
, scientists such as
Wilhelm Wundt Wilhelm Maximilian Wundt (; ; 16 August 1832 – 31 August 1920) was a German physiologist, philosopher, and professor, known today as one of the fathers of modern psychology Psychology is the science of mind and behavior. Psychology incl ...

Wilhelm Wundt
, Herman Ebbinghaus,
Mary Whiton Calkins Mary Whiton Calkins (; 30 March 1863 – 26 February 1930) was an American philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy. The term ''philosopher'' comes from the grc, φιλόσοφος, , translit=philosophos, meaning 'lover ...
, and
William James William James (January 11, 1842 – August 26, 1910) was an American philosopher American(s) may refer to: * American, something of, from, or related to the United States of America, commonly known as the United States ** Americans, citi ...
would offer their contributions to the study of human cognition.


Early theorists

Wilhelm Wundt Wilhelm Maximilian Wundt (; ; 16 August 1832 – 31 August 1920) was a German physiologist, philosopher, and professor, known today as one of the fathers of modern psychology Psychology is the science of mind and behavior. Psychology incl ...

Wilhelm Wundt
(1832–1920) emphasized the notion of what he called ''
introspection Introspection is the examination of one's own conscious thoughts and feelings. In psychology, the process of introspection relies on the observation of one's Mental representation, mental state, while in a Spirituality, spiritual context it may r ...
'': examining the inner feelings of an individual. With introspection, the subject had to be careful to describe their feelings in the most objective manner possible in order for Wundt to find the information scientific. Though Wundt's contributions are by no means minimal, modern psychologists find his methods to be quite subjective and choose to rely on more objective procedures of experimentation to make conclusions about the human cognitive process.
Hermann Ebbinghaus Hermann Ebbinghaus (January 24, 1850 – February 26, 1909) was a German psychologist A psychologist is a person who studies normal and abnormal mental states, perceptual, cognitive, emotional, and social processes and behavior by experiment ...
(1850–1909) conducted cognitive studies that mainly examined the function and capacity of human memory. Ebbinghaus developed his own experiment in which he constructed over 2,000 syllables made out of nonexistent words, for instance, EAS. He then examined his own personal ability to learn these non-words. He purposely chose non-words as opposed to real words to control for the influence of pre-existing experience on what the words might symbolize, thus enabling easier recollection of them. Ebbinghaus observed and hypothesized a number of variables that may have affected his ability to learn and recall the non-words he created. One of the reasons, he concluded, was the amount of time between the presentation of the list of stimuli and the recitation or recall of the same. Ebbinghaus was the first to record and plot a "
learning curve A learning curve is a graphical representation of the relationship between how proficient someone is at a task and the amount of experience Experience is the process through which conscious organisms Perception, perceive the world around them ...

learning curve
" and a "
forgetting curve The forgetting curve hypothesizes the decline of memory retention in time. This curve shows how information is lost over time when there is no attempt to retain it. A related concept is the strength of memory that refers to the durability that mem ...
". His work heavily influenced the study of serial position and its effect on memory (discussed further below).
Mary Whiton Calkins Mary Whiton Calkins (; 30 March 1863 – 26 February 1930) was an American philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy. The term ''philosopher'' comes from the grc, φιλόσοφος, , translit=philosophos, meaning 'lover ...
(1863–1930) was an influential American pioneer in the realm of psychology. Her work also focused on human memory capacity. A common theory, called the
recency effect Image:Serial position.png, 250px, Graph showing the U-shaped serial-position curve, created by the serial-position effect Serial-position effect is the tendency of a person to recall the first and last items in a series best, and the middle items wo ...
, can be attributed to the studies that she conducted. The recency effect, also discussed in the subsequent experiment section, is the tendency for individuals to be able to accurately recollect the final items presented in a sequence of stimuli. Calkin's theory is closely related to the aforementioned study and conclusion of the memory experiments conducted by Hermann Ebbinghaus.
William James William James (January 11, 1842 – August 26, 1910) was an American philosopher American(s) may refer to: * American, something of, from, or related to the United States of America, commonly known as the United States ** Americans, citi ...
(1842–1910) is another pivotal figure in the history of cognitive science. James was quite discontent with Wundt's emphasis on introspection and Ebbinghaus' use of nonsense stimuli. He instead chose to focus on the human learning experience in everyday life and its importance to the study of cognition. James' most significant contribution to the study and theory of cognition was his textbook ''Principles of Psychology'' which preliminarily examines aspects of cognition such as perception, memory, reasoning, and attention.
René Descartes René Descartes ( or ; ; Latinisation of names, Latinized: Renatus Cartesius; 31 March 1596 – 11 February 1650) was a French philosopher, Mathematics, mathematician, and scientist who invented analytic geometry, linking the previously sep ...

René Descartes
(1596-1650) was a seventeenth-century philosopher who came up with the phrase "Cogito, ergo sum." Which means "I think, therefore I am." He took a philosophical approach to the study of cognition and the mind, with his Meditations he wanted people to meditate along with him to come to the same conclusions as he did but in their own free cognition.


Psychology

In
psychology Psychology is the scientific Science () is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge Knowledge is a familiarity or awareness, of someone or something, such as facts A fact is an occurrence in the real world. ...

psychology
, the term "cognition" is usually used within an
information processing Information processing is the change (processing) of information Information is processed, organised and structured data. It provides context for data and enables decision making process. For example, a single customer’s sale at a resta ...
view of an individual's psychological
functions Function or functionality may refer to: Computing * Function key A function key is a key on a computer A computer is a machine that can be programmed to carry out sequences of arithmetic or logical operations automatically. Modern comp ...
, and such is the same in
cognitive engineering Cognitive engineering is a method of study using cognitive psychology to design and develop engineering systems to support the cognitive processes of users. History It was an engineering method used in the 1970s at Bell Labs, focused on how peop ...
. In the study of social cognition, a branch of
social psychology Social psychology is the scientific Science () is a systematic enterprise that Scientific method, builds and organizes knowledge in the form of Testability, testable explanations and predictions about the universe."... modern scienc ...

social psychology
, the term is used to explain attitudes,
attribution Attribution may refer to: * Attribution (copyright), concept in copyright law requiring an author to be credited * Attribution (journalism), the identification of the source of reported information * Attribution (law), legal doctrines by which lia ...
, and
group dynamics Group dynamics is a system of behaviors and psychological processes occurring within a social group In the social sciences, a social group can be defined as two or more people who interact with one another, share similar characteristics, and co ...
. Human cognition is conscious and
unconscious Unconscious may refer to: Physiology * Unconsciousness, the lack of consciousness or responsiveness to people and other environmental stimuli Psychology * Unconscious mind, the mind operating well outside the attention of the conscious mind as ...
,
concrete Concrete is a composite material A composite material (also called a composition material or shortened to composite, which is the common name) is a material Material is a substance Substance may refer to: * Substance (Jainism), a ter ...
or , as well as
intuitive Intuition is the ability to acquire knowledge Knowledge is a familiarity, awareness, or understanding of someone or something, such as facts ( descriptive knowledge), skills (procedural knowledge), or objects (Knowledge by acquaintance, acqu ...

intuitive
(like knowledge of a language) and
conceptual Conceptual may refer to: Philosophy and Humanities *Concept *Conceptualism *Philosophical analysis (Conceptual analysis) *Theoretical definition (Conceptual definition) *Thinking about Consciousness (Conceptual dualism) *Pragmatism (Conceptual pra ...
(like a model of a language). It encompasses processes such as
memory Memory is the faculty of the by which or is , stored, and retrieved when needed. It is the retention of information over time for the purpose of influencing future action. If s could not be remembered, it would be impossible for language, r ...

memory
,
association Association may refer to: *Club (organization), an association of two or more people united by a common interest or goal *Trade association, an organization founded and funded by businesses that operate in a specific industry *Voluntary association ...
, concept formation,
pattern recognition Pattern recognition is the automated recognition of pattern A pattern is a regularity in the world, in human-made design, or in abstract ideas. As such, the elements of a pattern repeat in a predictable manner. A geometric pattern is a kind of ...
,
language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the ...

language
,
attention Attention is the behavioral and cognitive process Cognition () refers to "the mental action or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and the senses". It encompasses many aspects of intellectual funct ...

attention
,
perception Perception (from the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the powe ...

perception
,
action ACTION is a bus operator in , Australia owned by the . History On 19 July 1926, the commenced operating public bus services between Eastlake (now ) in the south and in the north. The service was first known as Canberra City Omnibus Se ...
,
problem solving Problem solving consists of using generic or ad hoc Ad hoc is a Latin phrase __NOTOC__ This is a list of Wikipedia articles of Latin phrases and their translation into English. To view all phrases on a single, lengthy document, see: * L ...

problem solving
, and
mental image A mental image or mental picture is an experience that, on most occasions, significantly resembles the experience of visually perceiving some object, event, or scene, but occurs when the relevant object, event, or scene is not actually present ...
ry. Traditionally,
emotion Emotions are psychological state A mental state is a state of mind that an agent is in. Most simplistically, a mental state is a mental condition. It is a relation that connects the agent with a proposition. Several of these states are a comb ...

emotion
was not thought of as a cognitive process, but now much research is being undertaken to examine the
cognitive psychology Cognitive psychology is the scientific study of mental process Cognition () refers to "the mental action or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and the senses". It encompasses many aspects of intelle ...
of emotion; research is also focused on one's awareness of one's own strategies and methods of cognition, which is called
metacognition Metacognition is an awareness of one's own thought processes and an understanding Understanding is a psychological process related to concepts, such as a person, situation, or message whereby one is able to make sense of them. Understanding is a ...

metacognition
. While few people would deny that cognitive processes are a function of the
brain A brain is an organ Organ may refer to: Biology * Organ (anatomy) An organ is a group of Tissue (biology), tissues with similar functions. Plant life and animal life rely on many organs that co-exist in organ systems. A given organ's tiss ...

brain
, a cognitive theory will not necessarily make reference to the brain or to biological processes (
cf. The abbreviation ''cf.'' (short for the la, confer/conferatur, both meaning 'compare') is used in writing to refer the reader to other material to make a comparison with the topic being discussed. Style guides recommend that ''cf.'' be used only ...
neurocognitive Neurocognitive functions are cognitive functionCognitive skills, also called cognitive functions, cognitive abilities or cognitive capacities, are brain-based skills which are needed in acquisition of knowledge, manipulation of information, and rea ...
). It may purely describe behavior in terms of information flow or function. Relatively recent fields of study such as
neuropsychology Neuropsychology is a branch of psychology. It is concerned with how a person's cognition and behavior are related to the brain and the rest of the nervous system. Professionals in this branch of psychology often focus on how injuries or illness ...
aim to bridge this gap, using cognitive paradigms to understand how the brain implements the information-processing functions (cf.
cognitive neuroscience Cognitive neuroscience is the scientific field that is concerned with the study of the biological Biology is the natural science Natural science is a branch of science Science (from the Latin word ''scientia'', meaning "knowle ...
), or to understand how pure information-processing systems (e.g., computers) can simulate human cognition (cf.
artificial intelligence Artificial intelligence (AI) is intelligence Intelligence has been defined in many ways: the capacity for abstraction Abstraction in its main sense is a conceptual process where general rules and concept Concepts are defined as abstra ...

artificial intelligence
). The branch of psychology that studies brain injury to infer normal cognitive function is called
cognitive neuropsychology Cognitive neuropsychology is a branch of cognitive psychology that aims to understand how the structure and function of the brain A brain is an organ (anatomy), organ that serves as the center of the nervous system in all vertebrate and most i ...
. The links of cognition to
evolution Evolution is change in the heritable Heredity, also called inheritance or biological inheritance, is the passing on of Phenotypic trait, traits from parents to their offspring; either through asexual reproduction or sexual reproduction, ...

evolution
ary demands are studied through the investigation of
animal cognition Animal cognition encompasses the mental capacities of non-human animal Animals (also called Metazoa) are organisms that form the Animalia. With few exceptions, animals , , are , can , and grow from a hollow sphere of , the , during ...
.


Piaget's theory of cognitive development

For years,
sociologists This is a list of sociologists. It is intended to cover those who have made substantive contributions to social theory and research Research is "creativity, creative and systematic work undertaken to increase the stock of knowledge". It i ...
and
psychologist A psychologist is a professional who practices psychology and studies normal and abnormal mental states, perceptual, cognitive, emotional, and social processes and behavior by experimenting with, and observing, interpreting, and recording how ...
s have conducted studies on
cognitive development Cognitive development is a field of study in neuroscience Neuroscience is the science, scientific study of the nervous system. It is a Multidisciplinary approach, multidisciplinary science that combines physiology, anatomy, molecular biology, ...
, i.e. the construction of human thought or mental processes.
Jean Piaget Jean Piaget (, , ; 9 August 1896 – 16 September 1980) was a Swiss Swiss may refer to: * the adjectival form of Switzerland *Swiss people Places *Swiss, Missouri *Swiss, North Carolina *Swiss, West Virginia *Swiss, Wisconsin Other uses *Swiss ...

Jean Piaget
was one of the most important and influential people in the field of
developmental psychology Developmental psychology is the scientific Science () is a systematic enterprise that Scientific method, builds and organizes knowledge in the form of Testability, testable explanations and predictions about the universe."... modern ...
. He believed that humans are unique in comparison to animals because we have the capacity to do "abstract symbolic reasoning". His work can be compared to
Lev Vygotsky Lev Semyonovich Vygotsky (russian: Лев Семёнович Выго́тский, p=vɨˈɡotskʲɪj; be, Леў Сямёнавіч Выго́цкі, p=vɨˈɡotskʲɪj; – June 11, 1934) was a Soviet psychologist A psychologist is a pers ...
,
Sigmund Freud Sigmund Freud ( , ; born Sigismund Schlomo Freud; 6 May 1856 – 23 September 1939) was an Austrian neurologist Neurology (from el, νεῦρον (neûron), "string, nerve" and the suffix -logia, "study of") is a branch of medicine M ...

Sigmund Freud
, and
Erik Erikson Erik Homburger Erikson (born Erik Salomonsen; 15 June 1902 – 12 May 1994) was a Danish-German-American developmental psychologist Developmental psychology is the science, scientific study of how and why human beings change over the cour ...

Erik Erikson
who were also great contributors in the field of developmental psychology. Today, Piaget is known for studying the cognitive development in children, having studied his own three children and their intellectual development, from which he would come to a
theory of cognitive development Piaget's theory of cognitive development is a comprehensive theory about the nature and development of human intelligence Intelligence has been defined in many ways: the capacity for abstraction Abstraction in its main sense is a conceptual ...
that describes the developmental stages of childhood.


Common types of tests on human cognition

Serial position The ''
serial position Serial may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media The presentation of works in sequential segments * Serial (literature), serialised fiction in print * Serial (publishing), periodical publications and newspapers * Serial (radio and television), ...
experiment'' is meant to test a theory of memory that states that when information is given in a serial manner, we tend to remember information at the beginning of the sequence, called the ''primacy effect'', and information at the end of the sequence, called the ''recency effect''. Consequently, information given in the middle of the sequence is typically forgotten, or not recalled as easily. This study predicts that the recency effect is stronger than the primacy effect, because the information that is most recently learned is still in working memory when asked to be recalled. Information that is learned first still has to go through a retrieval process. This experiment focuses on human memory processes. Word superiority The '' experiment'' presents a subject with a word, or a letter by itself, for a brief period of time, i.e. 40ms, and they are then asked to recall the letter that was in a particular location in the word. In theory, the subject should be better able to correctly recall the letter when it was presented in a word than when it was presented in isolation. This experiment focuses on human speech and language. Brown-Peterson In the '' Brown-Peterson experiment'', participants are briefly presented with a
trigram Trigrams are a special case of the N-gram, ''n''-gram, where ''n'' is 3. They are often used in natural language processing for performing statistical analysis of texts and in cryptography for control and use of ciphers and codes. Frequency Conte ...
and in one particular version of the experiment, they are then given a distractor task, asking them to identify whether a sequence of words is in fact words, or non-words (due to being misspelled, etc.). After the distractor task, they are asked to recall the trigram from before the distractor task. In theory, the longer the distractor task, the harder it will be for participants to correctly recall the trigram. This experiment focuses on human
short-term memory Short-term memory (or "primary" or "active memory") is the capacity for holding, but not manipulating, a small amount of information in mind The mind is the set of faculties responsible for mental Phenomenon, phenomena. Often the term is also ...
. Memory span During the ''
memory spanIn psychology Psychology is the science of mind and behavior. Psychology includes the study of consciousness, conscious and Unconscious mind, unconscious phenomena, as well as feeling and thought. It is an academic discipline of immense scope ...
experiment'', each subject is presented with a sequence of
stimuli A stimulus is something that causes a physiological response. It may refer to: *Stimulation Stimulation is the encouragement of development or the cause of activity generally. For example, "The press provides stimulation of political discourse." ...
of the same kind; words depicting objects, numbers, letters that sound similar, and letters that sound dissimilar. After being presented with the stimuli, the subject is asked to recall the sequence of stimuli that they were given in the exact order in which it was given. In one particular version of the experiment, if the subject recalled a list correctly, the list length was increased by one for that type of material, and vice versa if it was recalled incorrectly. The theory is that people have a memory span of about seven items for numbers, the same for letters that sound dissimilar and short words. The memory span is projected to be shorter with letters that sound similar and with longer words. Visual search In one version of the ''
visual search Visual search is a type of perception, perceptual task requiring attention that typically involves an active scan of the visual environment for a particular object or feature (the target) among other objects or features (the distractors). Visual sea ...
experiment'', a participant is presented with a window that displays circles and squares scattered across it. The participant is to identify whether there is a green circle on the window. In the ''featured'' search, the subject is presented with several trial windows that have blue squares or circles and one green circle or no green circle in it at all. In the '' conjunctive'' search, the subject is presented with trial windows that have blue circles or green squares and a present or absent green circle whose presence the participant is asked to identify. What is expected is that in the feature searches, reaction time, that is the time it takes for a participant to identify whether a green circle is present or not, should not change as the number of distractors increases. Conjunctive searches where the target is absent should have a longer reaction time than the conjunctive searches where the target is present. The theory is that in feature searches, it is easy to spot the target, or if it is absent, because of the difference in color between the target and the distractors. In conjunctive searches where the target is absent, reaction time increases because the subject has to look at each shape to determine whether it is the target or not because some of the distractors if not all of them, are the same color as the target stimuli. Conjunctive searches where the target is present take less time because if the target is found, the search between each shape stops. Knowledge representation The semantic network of Knowledge representation and reasoning, knowledge representation systems have been studied in various paradigms. One of the oldest paradigms is the leveling and sharpening of stories as they are repeated from memory studied by Frederic Bartlett, Bartlett. The semantic differential used factor analysis to determine the main meanings of words, finding that value (ethics), value or "goodness" of words is the first factor. More controlled experiments examine the categorical relationships of words in free recall. The hierarchical structure of words has been explicitly mapped in George Armitage Miller, George Miller's Wordnet. More dynamic models of semantic networks have been created and tested with neural network experiments based on computational systems such as latent semantic analysis (LSA), Thomas Bayes, Bayesian analysis, and multidimensional factor analysis. The semantics (meaning) of words is studied by all the disciplines of
cognitive science Cognitive science is the interdisciplinary Interdisciplinarity or interdisciplinary studies involves the combination of two or more academic discipline An academic discipline or academic field is a subdivision of knowledge that is Educ ...

cognitive science
.


Metacognition


Improving cognition

Physical exercise Aerobic and anaerobic exercise have been studied concerning cognitive improvement. There appear to be short-term increases in attention span, verbal and visual memory in some studies. However, the effects are transient and diminish over time, after cessation of the physical activity. Dietary supplements Studies evaluating phytoestrogen, blueberry supplementation and antioxidants showed minor increases in cognitive function after supplementation but no significant effects compared to placebo. Pleasurable social stimulation Exposing individuals with cognitive impairment (i.e., Dementia) to daily activities designed to stimulate thinking and memory in a social setting, seems to improve cognition. Although study materials are small, and larger studies need to confirm the results, the effect of social cognitive stimulation seems to be larger than the effects of some drug treatments. Other methods Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) has been shown to improve cognition in individuals without dementia 1 month after treatment session compared to before treatment. The effect was not significantly larger compared to placebo. Computerized cognitive training, utilising a computer based training regime for different cognitive functions has been examined in a clinical setting but no lasting effects has been shown.


See also

* Cognitive biology * Cognitive musicology * Cognitive computing * Cognitive psychology * Cognitive science * Cognitivism (psychology), Cognitivism * Comparative cognition * Information processing technology and aging * Mental chronometry – i.e., the measuring of cognitive processing speed * Nootropic * Outline of human intelligence – a list of traits, capacities, models, and research fields of human intelligence, and more. * Outline of thought – a list that identifies many types of thoughts, types of thinking, aspects of thought, related fields, and more. * Cognitive Abilities Screening Instrument


References


Further reading

* * * *


External links


''Cognition''
An international journal publishing theoretical and experimental papers on the study of the mind.
Information on music cognition, University of Amsterdam

Cognitie.NL
Information on cognition research, Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) and University of Amsterdam (UvA) * Emotional and Decision Making Lab, Carnegie Mellon
EDM Lab

The Limits of Human Cognition
– an article describing the evolution of mammals' cognitive abilities


The limits of intelligence
Douglas Fox, ''Scientific American'', 14 June 14, 2011. {{Authority control Cognition, Cognitive psychology Cognitive science Mental processes Thought