Scientists Say: Cognition

Cognition includes all forms of knowing and awareness

in the center of a blue piece of paper is a cut out of a brain, which contains a colorful jumble of different shapes

If the cogs of your mind are turning, you’re probably tapping into some aspect of your cognition.

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Cognition (noun, “Cog-NIH-shun”)

Cognition is how the brain gains, stores and uses knowledge. Learning and solving problems are examples of cognition. So are perceiving the world and remembering experiences. Using language and imagination are also aspects of cognition. These brain functions form the basis of our thoughts and actions in daily life. They help us understand and interact with the world around us. In short, cognition is all the processes involved with thinking.

Cognition arises from many parts of the brain working together. Memory is ruled by regions such as the hippocampus and the amygdala. Tissues across the brain’s wrinkly outer layer help people understand language.

A person’s genetic code affects some aspects of cognitive ability. A person’s environment and experiences do, too. Disease and injury, for instance, may impair cognition. But healthy diet and exercise can help keep the mind sharp.

In a sentence

Confirmation bias and other flaws in cognition make us more vulnerable to falling for fake news

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Maria Temming is the assistant editor at Science News Explores. She has bachelor's degrees in physics and English, and a master's in science writing.

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