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

Finding (and Making) Sweet Spots in your Creative Process

By Wilma Koutstaal Ph.D. on September 21, 2017 in Our Innovating Minds
Where's your sweet spot for coming up with good ideas?

Earthquake Shock: Mexico’s Buried Schoolgirl Who Never Was

By Robert Bartholomew Ph.D. on September 21, 2017 in It's Catching
Vanishing Schoolgirl Likely Never Existed

Myth-busting About Open-mindedness

By Jeremy E Sherman Ph.D. on September 20, 2017 in Ambigamy
Becoming more open-minded isn't just saying you're open-minded or deciding to think out the box. It's disciplining yourself to follow out harder thoughts.

Profanity and Seemingly Inappropriate Words in the Classroom

By Todd B. Kashdan Ph.D. on September 20, 2017 in Curious?
What is unacceptable in a classroom setting? Besides profanity, there are certain words that are antithetical to thinking. I had to put an end to what was wearing me out.

Why We Need To Structure Our Days Differently Than We Think

Are you using your brain as effectively as you could be? A few changes can go a long way.

Authentic or Disingenuous?

By Harold Sigall Ph.D. on September 19, 2017 in Wishful Thoughts
How are you deciding whether others are sincere? Are you being misled?

Why Do We Love the View From High Above?

By Andrea Bartz on September 19, 2017 in The Wandering Mind
The weird psychological reason you'll take an elevator to the 102nd floor.

What Creates Superior Brain Connectivity, According to Study

By Susan Reynolds on September 19, 2017 in Prime Your Gray Cells
Participants on the “positive” side reflected stronger connectivity associated with higher cognitive functions, including memory, language, introspection, and imagination.

What’s Your Friendship Style?

By Lydia Denworth on September 18, 2017 in Brain Waves
No one way of making friends works for everyone, but some form of connection is essential.

Do Wolves Understand Cause and Effect Better Than Dogs?

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on September 17, 2017 in Animal Emotions
The headline of an essay claims wolves understand cause and effect better than dogs, but some questions remain about this unequivocal pronouncement. Dogs aren't dumb-downed wolves.

Low Brain Cholesterol—Separating Fact from Fiction

By Georgia Ede MD on September 17, 2017 in Diagnosis: Diet
How vegan diets and cholesterol-lowering drugs affect mood and memory.

Right Brain and Left Brain Share Duties On "As Needed" Basis

By Christopher Bergland on September 17, 2017 in The Athlete's Way
Growing evidence debunks the myth of creativity being seated in the "right brain." A new Duke study illuminates how the left brain and right brain can share duties when necessary.

Old Dogs, New Tricks

By Lawrence R Samuel Ph.D. on September 16, 2017 in Boomers 3.0
Contrary to popular belief, older people are perfectly capable of learning new things, with study after study showing that the brain continues to generate new cells as it ages.
By Martin Ransohoff (http://web.poptower.com/tyrel-ventura.htm) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Explaining Delusional Thinking

By Shahram Heshmat Ph.D. on September 15, 2017 in Science of Choice
The dual-process framework of decision-making can provide some insights into the theory of delusional belief.

Garbage Smells Green and Gunshots Are Rainbows

Some people hear colors and see sounds, a phenomenon called synesthesia.

Neuropsychological Evaluations 101

Thinking of getting your child "tested," but have no idea what that means? Read this FAQ to get some basic information about neuropsychological evaluations.

Answer Me This: Why Are Americans So Depressed?

By Stanton Peele Ph.D. on September 14, 2017 in Addiction in Society
We are growing more depressed, with young people in the lead, and our pharmaceutical response is obviously not working. How about psychedelics?

Exploding Three Myths and Stereotypes of Aging

Are we really predestined to become senile and fall apart as we age? Let's stand up for ourselves and appreciate the facts of growing older.

3 Tips to Give Your Brain the Sleep It Needs

A few tips can help transform your sleep-deprived brain into a sharper, faster version of itself.

Contagious Yawning is Hard-wired

New research suggests that the propensity for contagious yawning is rooted in the excitation and inhibition of the primary motor cortex.

Karate Kata and Cognition

By E. Paul Zehr Ph.D. on September 11, 2017 in Black Belt Brain
Thoughts from a woman who started training at age 80: "when I started to train in karate, my grandchildren said 'Grandma--you are crazy!' but now they are so proud of me."

Thinking With Focus

Approaching ADHD the right way.

The Many Ways of Saying, and Hearing, "I'm Sorry"

A recent neuroimaging study demonstrates that the different types of voice information contained in the sentences we speak and hear are processed through different neural pathways.
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Who Says You Can't Live a Million Years?

Mentally stretch the time you have and you'll live for what seems like a million years.

Bipolar Disorder and Expectations About the Future

By Elizabeth Brondolo Ph.D. on September 10, 2017 in Take Control
I thought I could handle things, but bipolar really interferes.

Expansive Body Language and Quick Romantic Attraction

What types of body language get you noticed quickly and create attraction, especially in today’s world of speed dating and swipe-to-match dating apps?

How Speaking a Second Language Affects the Way You Think

By David Ludden Ph.D. on September 09, 2017 in Talking Apes
The effort of speaking a second language impacts decision-making processes, but in unexpected ways.

How Your Brain Makes You Think Expensive Wine Tastes Better

By David DiSalvo on September 08, 2017 in Neuronarrative
Is that $112 bottle of wine really that much better than the $12 bottle? Here's how your brain tricks you into thinking it must be so.

Synesthesia on Wheels

By Maureen Seaberg on September 07, 2017 in Sensorium
Appelusa is a synesthete and skate champion and super creative....

Moral Decency and the Dreamers

By Michael W. Austin Ph.D. on September 07, 2017 in Ethics for Everyone
What does it say about our character if we deport 600,000-800,000 people who have essentially grown up in our country back to a place they've never known?