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Cognition refers, quite simply, 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.
Human beings are social animals, and the tenor of our social life is one of the most important influences on our mental and physical health. Without positive, durable relationships, both our minds and our bodies fall apart.