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

Ginkgo biloba for cognitive impairment and dementia

Are you curious about the evidence for Ginkgo biloba as a treatment of dementia? Many studies have been done but findings remain inconsistent.

He Said, She Said, and a Videotape

By Ira Hyman Ph.D. on October 23, 2017 in Mental Mishaps
Sometimes we get caught telling a whopper. And sometimes, our whopper may not actually be a lie. How should you respond?

Courageous Parents, Smart Kids

How much does your parenting really matter? New research shows that just believing in the importance of your parenting can make your child smarter. The connection explained.

Go With Green

Thinking of sprucing up your home before end-of-year entertaining begins? Use what scientists have learned to select your hues.
J. Krueger

Rhetoric in the Wild

By Joachim I Krueger Ph.D. on October 23, 2017 in One Among Many
Many of our conversations are not well behaved.

Clear Thinking: A Workshop

What's the meaning of thinking? Is it different from being worried?

Why Does Cerebral Brain Power Gobble Up So Much Energy?

By Christopher Bergland on October 21, 2017 in The Athlete's Way
New research explains why it's difficult for our brains and bodies to optimize cognitive and physical performance simultaneously.
Fotolit2/Purchased from Deposit Photos

An Often Forgotten Approach to Helping You With Fear

By Pamela D. Garcy Ph.D. on October 20, 2017 in Fearless You
Are fearful fantasies scaring you? Revising what you imagine might help.

Why Do Dogs Have Cold, Wet Noses?

A dog's wet nose can improve his scenting ability but it also does more than that.

Healing in the Aftermath of Las Vegas

Our brains take in the details of a mass tragedy, and organize them so that we have a sense of understanding and control --unless information, like motive, is missing.

Confirmation Bias: Why You Make Terrible Life Choices

By Nir Eyal on October 17, 2017 in Automatic You
Confirmation bias is a cognitive shortcut that can lead to some pretty horrendous decisions. Here's how to recognize and overcome it in your life.

What is a Remarkable Coincidence Telling the Statistician?

Even when confronted personally with a low probability coincidence, a major statistician clings tightly to his belief in the full explanatory power of coincidences.

Stress Makes It Harder to Recognize Danger

By Lydia Denworth on October 16, 2017 in Brain Waves
Sometimes stress heightens our awareness, but more often, it dulls our ability to respond to new threats. Recognizing the risk and reducing sources of stress can help.

Nessa's Sense of Machines

By Maureen Seaberg on October 16, 2017 in Sensorium
Through history, people have strongly related to the inanimate. But in this generation, that's machines.
Carl Pickhardt Ph. D.

Adolescence and the Use of Parental Worry

Not fun to do, and often given a bad name, worry can be constructive for both parent and adolescent to do.

The Science of Falling Out of Love

By Romeo Vitelli Ph.D. on October 15, 2017 in Media Spotlight
New research explores the thorny question of how to cope after a failed relationship and what it can mean for long-term emotional health.

How to Have Lucid Dreams

By Michelle Carr Ph.D. on October 15, 2017 in Dream Factory
Researchers tested the effectiveness of three common lucid dreaming techniques.

Homo Dichotomus

By Joachim I Krueger Ph.D. on October 14, 2017 in One Among Many
When statisticians call each other mad.
Random House

Our Memory Quirks: Are They for Us or against Us?

By Katherine Ramsland Ph.D. on October 14, 2017 in Shadow Boxing
What if your recollections turned out to be false? Here's a book that tutors you on how your memory works (and doesn't).

Strange Sound Sickening Cuban Diplomats? Don’t Believe It.

By Robert Bartholomew Ph.D. on October 14, 2017 in It's Catching
Mysterious "sonic attacks" on U.S. diplomats in Cuba are mass hysteria.

Emotions Drive Synchronicities

Emotions are the very life of us. They connect us to each other at a distance, forming the basis of many profound coincidences.

Omega-3s in Mental Health Care, Part 2

Are you curious about the role of omega-3 fatty acids in mental health? Omega-3s may be helpful in the early stages of schizophrenia and may be beneficial in PTSD, but not ADHD.

Why It's Hard to Let Go of Your Self-Limiting Beliefs

There's a good chance you developed self-limiting beliefs during childhood that you're still holding onto. Research explains why it's so hard to recognize your capabilities.

Does Raising a Dog's Excitement Level Improve Performance?

Attempting to generate higher levels of motivation and excitement may be detrimental to the performance of some dogs based upon their personality or temperament.

My Partner Cheated on Me—Should I Try to Make It Work?

By Grant H. Brenner M.D. on October 12, 2017 in ExperiMentations
How do we decide whether to stay or go after someone cheats on us? New research sheds light on the decision-making process and helps us understand our own relationships.

Lies, Self-Deception, and Malignant Narcissism

By Stephen A. Diamond Ph.D. on October 11, 2017 in Evil Deeds
What type of person is attracted to narcissists?

How to Train Your Brain to Think Differently

Studies show you can physically change your brain by changing the way you think. Here are three strategies that will train your brain to think differently.
Quick and Dirty Tips

Why Do We Self-Sabotage?

Do you find yourself repeatedly asking "Why do I do this to myself?" You may be a victim of your own bad habits.

The Pressure to Be Perfect

Perfectionistic thinking is different from having high expectations and a drive to do a good job, in that the pressure to be perfect brings with it a host of negative thoughts.