Understanding Cognition

Quite simply, cognition refers to thinking. There are the obvious applications of conscious reasoning—doing taxes, playing chess, deconstructing Macbeth—but thought takes many subtler forms, such as interpreting sensory input, guiding physical actions, and empathizing with others. The old metaphor for human cognition was the computer—a logical information-processing machine. (You can’t spell cognition without “cog.”) But while some of our thoughts may be binary, there's a lot more to our 'wetware' than 0's and 1's.

Recent Posts on Cognition

Should We Fan the Romantic Flame?

By Aaron Ben-Zeév Ph.D. on February 26, 2015 in In the Name of Love
All human experiences, including romantic ones, can be boring. The remedy for boredom is often change and novelty. Should we then change our romantic partners in order to fan our romantic flames? Although change is indeed essential to emotional intensity, there are several types of changes, and emotional intensity is far from being the whole story when it comes to romance.

ADHD and Weed: What’s the Draw?

Does marijuana help with ADHD?

Is Declining Ability With Aging Inevitable?

By E. Paul Zehr Ph.D. on February 26, 2015 in Black Belt Brain
There’s an inevitable decline in ability across the lifespan, or so we’ve been told. This idea that we have to deteriorate as we age has had widespread and pervasive traction in our society. But is it true?

Is Good Psychotherapy Worth the Investment?

By Judith Coche Ph.D., ABPP on February 26, 2015 in No Ordinary Life
Nick, age 55, gets unstuck when he and wife Barbara join together to invest in their own depth therapy to deal with how to feel passion, be more cognitively flexible, and create a happier marriage. They are glad they did.

Can You Get Drunk Off of Water?

Don't blame it on the alcohol! Blame it on your expectations about drinking.

The Psychology of Wonder

By Thomas Hills Ph.D. on February 26, 2015 in Statistical Life
Who we are is a consequence of our internal model, and when we change that by learning something new, we change our understanding of ourselves.

Entangled Empathy: How to Improve Human-Animal Relationships

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on February 26, 2015 in Animal Emotions
A new book by philosopher Lori Gruen called "Entangled Empathy" sets out a new ethic for our interactions with other animals, including humans, that involves blending our feelings and our knowledge of the others with whom we are in relationship and focusing on their situations by attending to their needs, interests, desires, vulnerabilities, hopes, and sensitivities.

Coping With Traumatic Brain Injury

By Robert T Muller Ph.D. on February 26, 2015 in Talking About Trauma
Tricia Williams, a clinical neuropsychologist at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital, explains how to improve child development and mental health for individuals coping with a TBI.

Are Kids Curious?

By Glenn C. Altschuler Ph.D. on February 26, 2015 in This Is America
In The Hungry Mind, Engel draws on the latest social science research to understand why curiosity is nearly universal in babies, and less evident in school. Although most children learn more when their curiosity is piqued, “schools do not always, or even often, foster curiosity.” But in an era that prizes quantifiable results, curiosity is not likely to be a priority.

Some Things Get Better With Age

By F. Diane Barth L.C.S.W. on February 26, 2015 in Off the Couch
My ninety year old aunt complains that she does not have much energy anymore. She doesn’t like it that she can’t remember what day it is, or the names of new acquaintances. But when it comes to emotional advice, there’s no one better to ask. Research has shown that as we age, not all of our cognitive abilities are on a steady downward path.

Is Sadomasochism a Uniquely Human Form of Sexuality?

By Hal Herzog Ph.D. on February 25, 2015 in Animals and Us
From an evolutionary point of view, the enjoyment of pain would seem to be maladaptive. Is there an animal analog of finding sexual satisfaction in being whipped, poked with needles, or having hot wax dripped on your skin?

Are People Naturally Scientific?

By Paul Thagard Ph.D. on February 25, 2015 in Hot Thought
Some social and developmental psychologists have claimed that people—even children—naturally think like scientists. I find this claim implausible because: people are naturally religious rather than scientific; everyday thinking frequently deviates from scientific reasoning; and science is a relatively recent cultural development.

Work Smarter, Not Harder by Breaking Bad Habits

Just like a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, we're only as good as our worst habits. Getting rid of worst habits allows us to operate more efficiently.

Online Dating: The Dark Side

By Martin Graff Ph.D. on February 25, 2015 in Love, Digitally
These people use devious psychological ploys. Have you ever been suspicious about an online relationship?

What Do Scientists Know About Finding a Purpose in Life?

By Todd B Kashdan Ph.D. on February 24, 2015 in Curious?
Providing information on the science of a purpose in life. heavy, beautiful, and of paramount importance

Ebb and Flow

By Stephen Gray Wallace on February 24, 2015 in Decisions Teens Make
Overuse of technology by young people may result in distraction, stress and impaired performance. Help them find flow!

First Synesthete on Mars?

By Maureen Seaberg on February 24, 2015 in Sensorium
Synesthete Andrew Tunks believes our mind's inner space is crucial to success in outer space.

Dogs Don't Believe Information From Liars

By Stanley Coren Ph.D., F.R.S.C. on February 24, 2015 in Canine Corner
Dogs keep track of whether people lie or tell the truth, and they use these memories to determine whether they can trust particular humans and any new information that they get from them.

A+ Students/C- Learners: Education’s Report Card

By APA Division 15 on February 24, 2015 in PsychEd
Today’s educational system is contributing to an undesirable and unanticipated problem—the production of many achievement-oriented, high-performing students who are, at best, mediocre learners. This is a bold and controversial claim that demands substantiation. beginning with what distinguishes good students from good learners.

In the Name of Knowledge, Schools are Stupid

By Lois Holzman Ph.D. on February 23, 2015 in A Conceptual Revolution
People in schools are trapped in an authoritarian educational bureaucracy beholden to corporate and political interests. But they’re also trapped by a culture that insists we (especially the professional knowers among us) must know what we’re doing or we wouldn’t be doing it.

How Technology is Tricking You Into Tipping More

By Nir Eyal on February 23, 2015 in Automatic You
Digital payment systems use subtle tactics to increase tips, and while it’s certainly good for hard-working service workers, it may not be so good for your wallet. Here's the hidden psychology of why you unconsciously pay more.

Can Liars Be Caught by Aviation Security?

By Art Markman Ph.D. on February 23, 2015 in Ulterior Motives
If you travel frequently, then you have probably endured more than one security screening interview at an airport. At passport control, for example, border agents ask a few questions, stare at your passport, check you on electronic databases, and then send you on your way.

Chronic Fatigue in the Context of the History of Medicine

In the way that lives were once ruined with such toxic diagnoses as ovarian hysteria, lives today are ruined by CFS.

A Response to Sam Harris's Writings on Moral Truth Pt 1 of 3

By John A. Johnson Ph.D. on February 23, 2015 in Cui Bono
In August of 2013, Sam Harris issued a challenge to refute, in 1,000 words or less, the central thesis of his book, The Moral Landscape. This thesis is that "questions of morality and values must have right and wrong answers that fall within the purview of science." In a three-part blog post, I explain why I agree with everything in his book except the central thesis.

7 Ways to Silence Your Inner Critic

Your inner dialogue can either fuel your success or prevent you from reaching your greatest potential.

Keeping Up! Older Workers' Adaptation at Work After Age 55

By Eddy Ng Ph.D. on February 23, 2015 in Diverse and Competitive
Older workers do want to stay in the workforce longer

Serenity: 6 Steps to Peace in the Midst of Change

By Rita Watson MPH on February 22, 2015 in With Love and Gratitude
Keep yourself and your relationship on an even keel and when change comes about -- second guessing will not shatter your peace. .

Discovering Peace of Mind

By Leon Pomeroy Ph.D. on February 22, 2015 in Beyond Good and Evil
I became the person I always wanted to be

The case FOR social media, TV, phoning, and video games

By Marty Nemko Ph.D. on February 22, 2015 in How To Do Life
Why parents shouldn't worry so much about their kids' electronic recreation.