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

Infatuation, Temptation? Stop Thinking about that Person

By Ira Hyman Ph.D. on May 27, 2015 in Mental Mishaps
You meet someone new and attractive. Temptation strikes. Perhaps you’re a little infatuated. The eye looks and the mind wanders. You find your thoughts keep returning to the encounter and the possibility for romance, sex, or relationship. But if you’re already in a committed and happy relationship, you may not want those thoughts. How can you stop those thoughts?

Un-Churched Chimps

Research on monkeys and chimpanzees suggests that moral sensibilities evolved long before religious sensibilities.

Give a Second Thought to First Impressions

New ideas and information can change our first impressions and increase our opportunities.

How Does Yoga Relieve Chronic Pain?

Chronic pain triggers changes in brain structure that are linked to depression, anxiety, and impaired cognitive function. New research shows that yoga can have the opposite effect on the brain as chronic pain.

Invading Privacy in the Name of Safety

Whether or not we allow parents and governments to invade our privacy depends on how the question is framed - is it a safety or moral concern or is simply an issue that concerns only ourselves.

How to Foster More Adaptive Thinking

By Gregg Henriques on May 27, 2015 in Theory of Knowledge
A review of how to employ the cognitive approach to maintain an adaptive mindset during stressful conditions.

Bicycling Can Sharpen Your Thinking and Improve Your Mood

Pedaling a bike helps build a better brain, structurally and functionally.

Can Our Brains Work On Autopilot?

Have you ever been so consumed with what happened at work that you find yourself in your driveway with no real recollection of how you got there? What price are we paying for a life on autopilot?

More Than Words Can Say

By David Ludden Ph.D. on May 26, 2015 in Talking Apes
The meaning of a conversation lies not in the words that are spoken but rather in the minds of the speaker and listener.

Wrong Self-Appraisals Result from the Use of Wrong Criteria

Mental conflicts, including intrusive thoughts or emotions (e.g., rumination on trauma or other negative events, self-blame, shame, hopelessness, guilt, anger, or sadness) result from both unawareness that the self-schemas or appraisals are regulated by one’s pattern schemas, and the use of wrong or distorted pattern schemas for self-evaluations.

Lobotomy Cuts Both Ways (Diametrically Speaking)!

A patient cured of epilepsy by brain surgery acquired hyper-mentalistic symptoms as implied by the diametric model and predicted by the imprinted brain theory.

The Wacky Neuroscience of Forgetting How to Ride a Bicycle

A new experiment with a "backwards brain bicycle" illustrates how easy it is to forget everything you thought you knew about riding a bicycle. In this blog post, I'll explore the neuroscience behind learning—and forgetting—how to ride a bicycle.

Online Personality Disorders

In my work as a web psychologist, I’m exposed to many different types of user behavior and online decision-making processes. Although each person is different and has an individual style, I have identified six recurring patterns of behavior that I identify as specific “online personality types.” In this piece, I’ll discuss the six pattern types

Finding the Truth through Forensic Media Psychology

In years ahead, law schools, schools of psychology, television, media and film, business schools and schools of public policy will offer courses, certificates and degrees in Forensic Media Psychology. FMP is a field whose time has arrived. Must Read!

Cause and Effect in Wine Drinkers’ Health

We think we know what causes what. But research shows we are greatly mistaken, and often confuse correlation with cause.

Dog's Brains Are Tuned to Recognize Human Faces

Recent fMRI data shows that dogs' sensitivity to human faces and expressions may be wired into the canine brain.

How to Avoid Thinking of Oneself as a Victim

By Sheila Kohler on May 21, 2015 in Dreaming for Freud
When my older sister was killed by her husband after a history of battering, I was in a rage. I sat down and wrote a novel in three months. I wrote out of anger and the sense that my sister had been a victim, an innocent, martyred woman, the mother of six small children, whose husband had killed her by driving a car off the road on a dry night with no other car in sight.

VA Emails Discuss How to Handle "Problem" Vet

By Eric Newhouse on May 20, 2015 in Invisible Wounds
Ever wonder what the VA is saying behind your back? Charles Gatlin did. So he and his wife requested—and received—hundreds of pages of emails that testify to a growing rift between a vet and the agency designated to serve him.

Another Flashbulb Memory Bites the Dust

Guest post by a student who has a memory of September 11th, 2001, that is vivid, clear, and wrong.

A Simple Way to Stop Relationship Arguments From Spiraling

By Guy Winch Ph.D. on May 20, 2015 in The Squeaky Wheel
The most common forms of miscommunication that lead to heated arguments are also the ones we least expect.

Why Anticipatory Nostalgia Promotes Gratitude

By Jaime Kurtz Ph.D. on May 19, 2015 in Happy Trails
Think ahead—what might you miss as you embark on your summer travels?

Vet Wins Partial Victory on TBI Rating Challenge

By Eric Newhouse on May 19, 2015 in Invisible Wounds
A VA appeals panel has ordered a full neuropsychological workup for a former Army captain, Charles Gatlin, who challenged his TBI disability rating on the grounds that the VA's RBANS screening test wasn't capable of measuring the brain injury he suffered from a car bomb in Iraq. It's a ruling with implications for all vets, but the VA says its policy won't change.

Are You in Cognitive Decline?

By Art Markman Ph.D. on May 19, 2015 in Ulterior Motives
I speak to a lot of corporate audiences. Regardless of the topic I am speaking about, I get a lot of general psychology questions from the crowd. The most popular question is about cognitive performance and aging. People in their 50s and 60s begin to worry that they are not going to be able to keep up mentally with their younger colleagues.

Mental Subtraction: A Simple Trick to Boost Gratitude

Among the stories of tragedy following a plane crash in 2012, was a story of appreciation–a missed connection prevented one man from boarding that plane and when news of the crash aired he broke down, unable to believe how lucky he was. His wife told reporters she couldn't imagine life without him; but, for a few minutes, she had been forced to imagine the unimaginable.

Beliefs About Brain Training: Why They Could Be Hurting Us

Can brain training help or hurt? It may depend on your attitude about what you expect to get out of it.

Give Your Mind a Rest: Practice Not-Thinking

Discursive thinking—the constant stream of one thought following another—is a deeply ingrained habit. It’s so ingrained that we often start thinking just to occupy our minds.

Reading Faces

By David Ludden Ph.D. on May 18, 2015 in Talking Apes
The language you speak can influence the way you perceive the emotional expressions of other people.

How Technical Devices Influence Children's Brains

Guest blog by Dan Riseman, president of Riseman Educational Counseling, covers children's brain development. Here are some dos and don'ts regarding devices.

How to Be Empathetic

“All you ever wants to do is try to fix things.” “You just don't get it.” Judgments like these and countless others verbalized or thought in the context of interpersonal relationships point to one popular problem: the lack of empathy for the other. This blog provides nine guidelines for addressing this block to successful relationships.

A Lesson From Junior High Exile

By Kaja Perina on May 14, 2015 in Brainstorm
The inner voice is both symptom and salve, partly indicating what you believe about yourself and partly indoctrinating you into a way of thinking, as I discovered in a middle school library long ago.