What is cognition?
Gift and Grace Learning Solutions defines cognition as 'the mental action of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and the senses.' We identify it as the mental processes relating to the input and storage of information and how that information guides your behaviour. In essence, it is the capacity to perceive and react, process and comprehend, store and retrieve information, make decisions, and respond accordingly. The modern term 'cognition' has its roots in Latin, the word 'cognoscere,' which means to "know" something. In light of this, cognitive functioning is crucial for the day-to-day functioning of the brain, governing our thoughts and actions. Cognition allows us to make sense of the world and interact safely with our environment in the face of vast sensory information we receive about the world around us. The ability to distill all this information into its essential elements depends on cognition.
What role does cognition have?
In a healthy human brain, over 100 billion nerve cells are involved in cognitive processes. It is believed that each of these nerve cells can have up to 10,000 connections with other neurons. As a result, it is a highly complex organ. We sometimes rely on basic scientific models to understand the brain, some of which have been developed using studies on rodents and non-human primates. In addition to helping us understand certain aspects of our cognition, such as how we learn a language, these studies have provided the basis for innovations in treating joint disorders of cognition.
A fundamental component of cognition is the ability to generate thoughts and behaviours. These are regulated by discrete brain circuits underpinned by neurotransmitter systems. The brain has several chemicals that control cognitive functions, including dopamine, noradrenaline (norepinephrine), serotonin, acetylcholine, glutamate, and GABA. It is essential to consider cognition and the underlying neurobiology of specific behaviours to better understand them, both in a healthy and a disease state. Several processes occur within some areas of the brain that result in the distinct cognitive functions we possess, but only some of these are brought to our conscious awareness.
Type of cognition functions
Social cognition - responding to emotion-laden stimuli.
Executive function - thinking and making decisions at a high level.
Memory - the ability to store information in short- and long-term memory.
Attention - attending to specific information and ignoring others.
Psychomotor speed - detecting and responding to the presence of a stimulus.
How to improve our cognition?
Throughout our lifetime, our cognition continuously changes and adapts to new information, influencing our behaviour and determining our temperament. Environmental factors can affect cognitive function even before birth, such as fetal alcohol syndrome, which is associated with severe cognitive impairment. Our cognitive abilities develop continuously throughout childhood, adolescence and adulthood. Close mediation can improve our cognitive function by modifying our thinking patterns. It is essential to "do brain work" to keep up our cognitive function. Researching systematic and organized brain exercises with close mediation could help us improve our cognitive abilities. As a result, cognitive function can be changed to make your life easier.
Please contact us if you'd like to explore our cognitive program. I'd be happy to consult on how I can help.