Definition for Cognition and Tips to Improve It
Since the word cognition itself means “knowing”, have you ever wondered how the brain actually thinks? It’s quite an extraordinary thing that we’ll be sharing in this post, along with certain ways in which we can enhance our cognitive abilities.
How Does The Brain Think?
The brain processes information using a vast web of brain cells called neurons. These nerve cells detect, encode, and process bits of informational data. The neurons communicate with each other via electrical signals and chemicals called ‘neurotransmitters’. That communication between neurons forms the basis of what we experience as thought.
What is cognition and what does cognition mean?
Cognition itself literally means knowing; however, used more broadly, it refers to the mental process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and senses. So in daily, functional terms a definition for cognition is: the processes and complexes of knowledge itself. This includes the cognitive processes such as attention, thinking, the formation of knowledge, remembering, judging and problem solving. These are all higher-level functions of the brain that also include language, imagination, perception, and planning.
Cognitive processes affect every aspect of life, from our younger days of studying to our current jobs and relationships. Specific uses for these cognitive processes include:
- Learning: Which requires you to take in new information and combine them with existing information to form new concepts and understanding. As well as acquiring new behaviors and skills.
- Forming Memories: How we remember, what we remember, and what we forget can reveal a great deal about how the cognitive processes operate.
- Decision Making: Whenever you are making a decision you have to evaluate the information that you have and judge it based on your knowledge.
How Does The Brain Learn?
When the brain processes new information, new connections form between neurons. As we repeatedly reinforce and recall the information, these connections grow stronger and communicate more efficiently. If we do not reinforce these new pathways, the connections weaken and may be lost. Learning, therefore, literally rewires the brain, creating new links in the vast network of neurons.
Our cognitive abilities are extremely important as they impact how we perceive the world, form impressions and interact with our environment.
Tips To Improve Your Cognitive health
Marcus Aurelius, the Roman emperor and ancient inspiration for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), says it best… “Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking.” With this in mind, there are very simple and affective ways in which we can nurture our cognitive abilities and ensure a healthy brain.
- Staying healthy!
The most basic fundamental human need – Exercising, eating a healthy and whole food diet, and getting good nights sleep.
- Avoid stressful situations (and people)!
Stress has a negative impact on brain function. Therefore it’s important to reduce it or avoid it as much as possible. Plan your time accordingly, so you don’t have to stress about uncompleted tasks. And respectfully avoid those people who tend to dim the mood.
- Mental stimulation!
To exercise and develop your cognitive function you have to consume new information, continue to learn new things, and challenge your brain.
- Natural Supplements!
We live in a world where brands have allowed us to “fast with food“, and biohackers have masterfully crafted and provided us with “limitless”-like pills. Natural nootropics are a great way to support your brains health and boost your cognitive performance
The Learning Molecule
Acetylcholine (the learning molecule) is a neurotransmitter that is essential to mental processing.
To make acetylcholine, the brain needs two elements: an acetyl group and a choline molecule. An acetyl group is a type of simple molecular building block of organic chemistry with a chemical formula of C2H30. The acetyl group is usually present in the brain as Acetyl-CoA. Choline and the acetyl group are grouped together by the enzyme Choline Acetyltransferase (ChAT). They are both stored in neurons, released, and then broken down by another enzyme called acetylcholinesterase (AchE).
To increase levels of acetylcholine for enhanced mental performance and cognitive gains, we use the following approach:
- Create more acetyl-CoA molecules to provide acetyl groups to ChAT for acetylcholine production.
- Provide more choline in choline producing (cholinergic) neurons for use by ChAT.
- Increase or upregulate the activity of ChAT.
- Decrease the activity of AchE.
Acetylcholine Brain Food™ by Natural Stacks contains the essential raw materials for the brain to increase production of this learning molecule, achieve balance, and maintain prolonged activity of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine.
The way we feel is not just a response to the way things are out there in the world. It’s also how we make sense of whats happening to us.
What is Cognitive Psychology
Cognitive psychology is the study of the mind and the perception, attention, memory and procedures that are involved when we receive, collect, and retrieve information. Cognitive psychologists believe that mental processes can and should be studied scientifically, to later on be tested using scientific methods.
These psychologists are the opposite of behavioralists who believe that the role of psychology was to study peoples ‘behaviors’. The difference was instigated when some psychologists were becoming increasingly frustrated that by only studying behaviors, they weren’t able to understand the processes that were going on internally. They were not saying that behaviors aren’t important; however, they wanted to tie the external behaviors in to the internal mental processes that facilitated them. And therefore, cognitive psychology emerged as a study of mental processes and complex behaviors.
The study of the mind and all that comes with it is just so exciting. However, the growth in our cognitive abilities that we have achieved as a species is even more so. Before we conclude this post, I want to share a bit about ‘cognitive neuroscience’ that I find simply incredible.
Traditionally, cognitive psychologists didn’t really get involved with the brain on a physiological level. They were more interested in understanding the processes of the brain, and less so in its biology and structure. However, recent developments in the sophisticated brain imaging techniques like Functional Magnetic Resonance Imagery (fMRI) and Positron Emission Tomography (PET) have changed that. They now allow scientists to actually watch the brain in action while the person is performing a psychological task. Basically, psychologists are able to watch learning as it happens and see memories being coded and recalled through activation of neural networks! This new technology brought with it a new discipline of cognitive neuroscience. Now how cool is that?!
Having a useful definition for cognition is helpful in understanding how our minds work. But the extra research into how the physical brain works will surely shed even more light on how to improve its function. Until then, hopefully the information and tips above will help you keep your mental performance in top shape.
Kaldzar is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.