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

6 Winning Body Language Techniques

Do you know about the secret powers of touch? of eye contact? How about the "bubble"?

Want to Build a Dog From A Fox? Here's How To Do It.

Tucked away in Siberia, there are furry, four-legged creatures with wagging tails that are as friendly as any lapdog. But, despite appearances, these are not dogs—they are foxes.

Translating Trauma: Foreign Language Interpreting in Therapy

Language is an essential part of cultural competence. Therapy with a foreign language interpreter can be awkward but help is available. Beverley Costa PhD offers tips.

Ginkgo Biloba for Mild to Moderate Dementia

If you or a loved one are thinking about trying Ginkgo for a memory problem, first review the evidence. Findings for Ginkgo in dementia are inconsistent.

Dietary Changes Reduce Alzheimer's Risk

Are you worried about developing Alzheimer's disease? Simple dietary changes can reduce your risk.

Prestige, Power, and Placebos

Intuitive errors and social pressures often fool us into the wrong decisions. But our social minds also possess untapped healing power. Recent research shows us how to use it!

Science Is Not Political

By Ira Hyman Ph.D. on March 22, 2017 in Mental Mishaps
Nonetheless, science is embroiled in politics. Why is science so controversial, and why are the scientists planning a big march?
Patty Mooney [CC BY-SA 3.0]

What Is Consciousness?

What would it take to make a robot experience a dream?

Stanford Scientists Discover Surprising Cerebellum Functions

A pioneering Stanford University study has discovered a previously unknown cognitive role of specific neurons in the historically overlooked cerebellum (Latin for "little brain").

The Emerging Crisis in Critical Thinking

What can parents and teachers do to improve thinking ability?

The Self Illusion and Psychotherapy

The self is an illusion and, as I noted in a recent paper published in Australasian Psychiatry, we can tailor psychotherapy to highjack the mechanisms that create it.

Mindful in the Classroom: New Lessons in Mental Literacy

A new age of neuroscientific literacy is beginning in the classroom.

Helpful Hacks for Conducting Research With Older Adults

By Christina M. Pierpaoli on March 18, 2017 in Eng(aging)
A psychologist-in-training discusses sources of error in geropsychologial research and clever, practical ways of managing them.

Hearing Loss Won't Kill You, or Will It?

By Katherine Bouton on March 18, 2017 in What I Hear
If you are a therapist with a patient with hearing loss, please take it seriously. Their life may depend on it.
"Lime Butterfly"/giovzaid85/CC BY 2.0

When Is Reimagining the Past a Sign of Emotional Health?

By Barb Cohen on March 17, 2017 in Mom, Am I Disabled?
For counterfactual thinking to be functionally beneficial, we need a coherent story of cause and effect that makes us an essential actor in the story.

Breaking Down the Elements of Acting

If theatre is awesome for kids, which kids? What kinds of awesome? And how? Let's break it down.

This Is What Is Wrong With the Core of Psychology

The core problem with psychology is conceptual. This blog examines the problem with the term cognitive and explains how to best think about the term.

Energizing Jung's Ideas About Synchronicity

Why spend a lifetime studying Jung's ideas about synchronicity? Professor Roderick Main is doing just that and, in this guest post, explains why.

Whole Paycheck Pauper? You’re Paying 47% More For Psychology

Eggs all in one basket? “Organic food” and its marketing is not all it’s cracked up to be. The firmest fact about organic is the marketing power behind it.

Why Language Really Matters

By John Nosta on March 16, 2017 in The Digital Self
The search of patients for drug trials is doomed by language.

Thinking Away Unwanted Thoughts

Don't bother telling yourself not to worry. It will never work. Instead, do this.

Dog Owners Are Wrong About the Health Benefits of Raw Diets

Despite dog owners' beliefs that raw animal product dog foods are healthier data suggests that they are unsafe.

Harvard Study Finds Genetic ‘Toggle Switch’ for Sociability

Researchers at Harvard Medical School have pinpointed specific neuronal circuitry and a 'toggle switch' that can turn a mouse's sociability "on" and "off" in the laboratory.

The Control Freak

By Adrian Furnham Ph.D. on March 15, 2017 in A Sideways View
Why do some people need to exercise constant and control of their own lives and others around them? Are they really freaks or is this need both relatively common and even adaptive?

Bilingualism in the Sky

English is the international language of civil aviation and hence many airline pilots and controllers have to communicate in a language other than their own. What does this entail?

Thinking About Divorce or Suicide? Stop it! For 6 Months

By Karen L Smith MSS, LCSW on March 14, 2017 in Full Living
Neither divorce nor suicidality is the easy way out, but first we must consider every vehicle, every effort, every courageous act to save what is most precious.

Coincidence Frequency Factors

Want to know how to make coincidences happen more frequently? Try a few mind adjustments.

Stress Mindset Tied to Physical and Mental Health

Is stress getting in your way? Modifying your mindset may improve your health.

Help for That Buzz In Your Ear

By Temma Ehrenfeld on March 13, 2017 in Open Gently
Treat your anxiety—or try brain-training exercises—to beat ringing in the ears.

Can Intelligence or Personality Compensate for Disadvantage?

Can intelligence or personality compensate for background disadvantage in predicting later life outcomes?