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

In Discussing "Youth," Jane Fonda Touches on "Superfluidity"

Jane Fonda recently described the awe-inspiring aspects of having a peak experience while discussing her upcoming movie 'Youth.'

Fearing the Wrong Things?

By David Myers Ph.D. on November 24, 2015 Talk Psych
Horrific terrorist acts abroad have sparked fears of international travel—and of Muslims and Syrian refugees—and warnings to "be aware" of risks. The psychological dynamics that drive exaggerated fears also were at work in 1942, as my family observed first hand.

Are You Being Lied to?

No matter the technique, most people can’t spot liars on a consistent basis. One potential solution to the problem is to remove “people” from the equation. Just let a computer do it.

Will Virtual Reality Usher In A New Romantic Era At Work?

By Tim Leberecht on November 23, 2015 The Romance of Work
The advent of VR in the workplace will represent a new stage for the experience economy. HR departments must start hiring experience designers, writers, and storytellers; IT department must add some serious VR expertise; and team leaders and executives must become curators of experiences.

How to Avoid Being Deceived by Opinion Polls

Master manipulators in politics, government, business, and media use opinion polls to influence our thinking, our choices, and our behavior. Learn to know when you’re being played for a rube.

How Does Exercise Protect Your Brain from Degeneration?

Two new studies have identified various ways that exercise protects the brain from degeneration as we age.

We Are Becoming Gods

By Mario D Garrett PhD on November 21, 2015 iAge
While we are behaving more like gods, we are learning that we are less human.

Examining the Effects of Mobile Phones on Kids and Teens

By Michael J Breus Ph.D. on November 20, 2015 Sleep Newzzz
Navigating technology with children and teenagers isn’t easy, especially when it comes to nighttime and sleep.

7 Ways Meditation Supercharges Your Brain

By Susan Reynolds on November 20, 2015 Prime Your Gray Cells
Pausing daily, or at least regularly, to meditate can have amazing benefits for your brain, from increasing brain volume, to boosting focus and supercharging neurons. Here’s the lowdown on 7 long-term brain benefits.

How Your Emotions Really Work

It can be the opposite of what you think.

Hearing With Our Eyes, Seeing With Our Ears

By David Ludden Ph.D. on November 19, 2015 Talking Apes
Consciousness is a virtual reality in the head, the brain’s best guess as to what’s out there in the world.

9 Mantras That Keep You Mentally Strong During Tough Times

The things you tell yourself during tough times play a major role in your ability to overcome hardship.

In the Age Of Emoji, What's in a Word?

By Vyv Evans Ph.D. on November 18, 2015 Language in the Mind
The Oxford Dictionaries 2015 word of the year isn't a word. In fact, it's an emoji. What does this mean for the changing status of language in the digital age?

The Clothes You Wear Can Affect a Dog's Emotional State

Data shows that if your clothing has stripes vs polka-dots or plain color, it can provoke an emotional response in dogs

6 Little Known Factors That Can Affect Depression

By Pamela D. Garcy Ph.D. on November 18, 2015 Fearless You
These 6 little known factors can affect depression.

Do Bilingual Infants Have Better Memory?

As researchers continue to debate cognitive advantages of bilingualism, they develop increasingly more sophisticated methods to examine our earliest experiences. A recent study of infant memory suggests that bilingual babies display better memory and ability to generalize across different contexts than monolingual ones. But what about trilingual babies?

What Are You So Afraid Of?

By Sophia Dembling on November 17, 2015 The Introvert's Corner
Professional coach Beth Buelow says we can't ignore fear, but we can get to know it better to push past it.

Romance Is Bad for Our Mental Health

By Jeremy E Sherman Ph.D. on November 17, 2015 Ambigamy
The tendency to treat life's rough, uncertain ride as romantic fiction runs and ruins our personal and social lives. Romance ignores chance in favor of fate, probabilities in favor of certainties, details in favor of destinies. It glorifies us and vilifies anyone who gets in our way. It turns love into a sugar high and crash and makes a mess of politics.

Can't We Just Talk?

Can’t we just talk? Is social media replacing our ability to connect and empathize?

Motivation Is Tied to the Strength of Your Brain Connections

Would you identify yourself as someone who is highly motivated or more apathetic? Neuroscientists at Oxford University recently discovered a neurobiological mechanism that might explain why some of us are inherently more ambitious than others. The findings also explain the neuroscience of why "Just Do It" is such a motivational slogan.

Consciousness and Memory

The role of memory in consciousness is often taken for granted. Without the brain's various memory systems it would be unlikely that conscious experience would even occur. Consciousness not only relies on working memory to maintain perceptual and other information but also on long-term memory to enrich our present experience with information from the past.

There’s No Reason to Celebrate Trauma

By Marty Babits on November 16, 2015 The Middle Ground
There have been breakthroughs in how we understand and treat trauma.

Terror on the Tube: Background Television & Little Ones

By Jamie Krenn Ph.D. on November 16, 2015 Screen Time
Recently, Paris came under attack to a horrific set of events. While most young children are not sitting down to watch the evening news, a fair set of households do keep television news on in the background. Encourage children to talk about what they have viewed either in the foreground or the background can help.

The Assault on the American Mind

By Ravi Chandra M.D. on November 15, 2015 The Pacific Heart
A response to recent Atlantic articles about campus unrest and the supposed "coddling" of the American mind. We can't tell students they're "too sensitive" and that they should "lighten up and get over it." The moment calls for more than just free speech or intellectualizing. We need empathic inclusion.

Voters Versus Terrorists: Who's Winning?

By Gregg Murray Ph.D. on November 15, 2015 Caveman Politics
While our hearts ache for the victims of this latest revolting episode of the inhumanity to which some will go to gain power over others, it is important to step back and note that the terrorists don’t always win.

Your Child's Brain on Books

By Elaine Reese Ph.D. on November 14, 2015 Tell Me a Story
Reading books to young children is an everyday activity in many households. New research offers clues on how picturebook reading is important for your child's brain development.

'Located in the Posterior Cingulate Cortex'

In presenting scholarly information, it turns out that including highly technical, neuroscientific terms makes your argument more convincing—even when your reasoning is all fluff. This fact can be used for good or for evil. I say we use this information as a tool to help cultivate critical thinking skills in developing young minds.

10 Things Passive People Say

By Guy Winch Ph.D. on November 12, 2015 The Squeaky Wheel
When passivity becomes our default way of responding and interacting and determines our general approach to life, it hurts us in ways we might not realize: Here's what to look for:

Are Silent Dog Whistles Useful?

There are many myths and misunderstandings about how silent dog whistles can be used to control canine behavior.

The Art (and Science) of “Aping”

Human beings are smart. But, according to Joseph Henrich, the impact of the innate intelligence of individuals may be over-rated. Quite often, for example, European explorers who got lost did not survive. The takeaway, Henrich suggests, in an immensely ambitious new book, is that our species' uniqueness lies less in the power of individual minds than in collective brains.