Cognition (Encyclopedia of Science)
Cognition is the act of knowing or the process involved in knowing. When we "know" something, it means that we are not only aware or conscious of it, but that we can, in a way, make some sort of judgment about it. Cognition is therefore a very broad term that covers a complicated mental process involving such functions as perception, learning, memory, and problem solving.
How we know
The nature of cognition, or how we know, has been the subject of investigation since the time of the ancient Greeks. It has been studied by both philosophers and scientists. Around 1970, a new field of investigation called cognitive psychology began to emerge. Many of its practitioners study the brain and compare it to a computer in terms of its information storage and retrieval functions. However, most people who study cognition recognize that they are not focusing just on how the brain works as an organ, but are really more concerned with how the mind actually works. While there are still several competing theories all trying to explain how the mind works (or how we know), one idea common to most of them is that the mind builds conceptshich are like large symbolic groupings, patterns, or categorieshat represent actual things in the real world. It then uses these concepts or patterns that it has already built when it meets a new object or event, and it can then compare the new...
(The entire section is 1283 words.)
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Cognition (Encyclopedia of Psychology)
A general term for the higher mental processes by which people acquire knowledge, solve problems, and plan for the future.
Cognition depends on the ability to imagine or represent objects and events that are not physically present at a given moment. Cognitive functions include attention, perception, thinking, judging, decision making, problem solving, memory, and linguistic ability.
One of the most basic cognitive functions is the ability to conceptualize, or group individual items together as instances of a single concept or category, such as "apple" or "chair." Concepts provide the fundamental framework for thought, allowing people to relate most objects and events they encounter to preexisting categories. People learn concepts by building prototypes to which variations are added and by forming and testing hypotheses about which items belong to a particular category. Most thinking combines concepts in different forms. Examples of different forms concepts take include propositions (proposals or possibilities), mental models (visualizing the physical form an idea might take), schemas (diagrams or maps), scripts (scenarios), and images (physical models of the item). Other fundamental aspects of cognition are reasoning, the process by which people formulate arguments and arrive at conclusions, and problem...
(The entire section is 801 words.)