Cognition is the term we give to the capacity to accumulate learned information. The term “Cognition” comes from the Latin word “cognoscere” which means to know and cognition is the term used to describe the way knowledge is introduced through the senses and stored in the brain for applications when needed.
What does that mean?
All-day every day, information about our world, our relationships, and our lives are being fed to our brain from the senses. Everything we experience from moment to moment is received through the combined descriptions provided through our senses, or our perception. Information from the senses is crucial to precisely evaluating and interpreting our world and all of this information is gathered together to form our repository of knowledge –– this process is called cognition.
In addition to everything we are learning about our world through the senses, cognition also includes the capacity to read, learn and study information, even abstract information, and be able to properly store this for later use. There are many “cognitive processes” in the category of cognition including memory, learning, decision making, language, reasoning and more and all of these constitute our capacity for cognition.
A good way to think about the cognitive processes is to consider all the ways this repository of information may be used and applied in daily life. Throughout any day you can think of a great many cases where your attention, reasoning or memory will be applied and engaged. Every time your perception and information centers are stimulated a greater understanding of the world around us is also achieved.
Cognitive processes are consistently working to learn more about the world and improve their strength at the same time. Following are some of the most important cognitive processes we all engage in fairly regularly.
Attention is the capacity to focus or concentrate our mental powers on a single stimulus or activity to ensure that the minutiae of the information and practice are properly processed into the experience sections of the brain. Attention is a fundamental part of the cognitive process and allows the brain to collect high-quality information, unaffected by peripheral information unaligned to the task at hand. The capacity to apply and manage attention is considered one of the most vital of all the cognitive processes as it regulates the quality and detail of stored information.
Memory is one of the most basic cognitive processes as it allows information from the stimuli to be recorded and those recordings brought up again in the future. Memory also adds an important element to our sense of self and identity. Even in the category of memory, there are many different types of memory that each has a different function. Short term memory allows us to remember details for a short period, like the memory required to remember an email address or telephone number until we can write them down. Long term memory is what holds information for longer periods and can be further divided into declarative or procedural memory.
Declarative memory is the type of memory for the information acquired through education and spoken interaction. For example, you may remember your Aunt’s upcoming birthday from a conversation with a relative or that Pearl Harbor was attacked during the Second World War.
Procedural Memory is the type that allows you to remember routines associated with specific tasks, like remembering to brush teeth before bed, how to ride a bike or even how to perform complex brain surgery.
Perception is the first of the cognitive processes and allows the mind to organize and identify what it is experiencing through various sense. It is common to assume that there are only 5 senses (touch, smell, sight, hearing, and taste) but there are more. Nociception is the sense of pain, proprioception is the sense of the self and interception is the perception of our organs and the sense that makes us feel hungry nor thirsty.
Another important cognitive function is the capacity to use grammar, vocabulary, and situation-specific terminology to express ourselves and get the things we need.
The thought is the cognitive process that allows all the information and data being processed to tie together. It allows opinions to be formed on new experiences based on past experiences and allows proper reactions to be chosen. Thoughtforms the all-important link between events and the knowledge they provide.