Cognition refers to the action or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and the senses.

Cognition encompasses many intellectual functions and processes: perception, attention, thought, formation of knowledge, memory, judgment, use of knowledge, learning, evaluation, reasoning, problem solving and decision making, comprehension and production of language. 

Cognitive processes can be analyzed from different perspectives nd within different contexts: linguistics, musicology, anesthesia, neuroscience, psychiatry, psychology, education, philosophy, anthropology, biology, systemics, logic, and computer science.

Cognition requires cellular level neuron to neuron and neuron to glia interactions, establishing local synaptic circuits and distributed cognitive networks. 

Adaptive neural plasticity maintains healthy circuit dynamics through synaptic and cellular mechanisms of plasticity.

Key for cellular plasticity mechanisms are hippocampal neural precursor cells that promote hippocampal neurogenesis and oligodendrocyte precursor cells that contribute to myelin plasticity.

Cognition is usually used within an information processing view of an individual’s psychological functions, 

used to explain attitudes, attribution, and group dynamics.

Cognition is conscious and unconscious, concrete or abstract, as well as intuitive and conceptual, encompassing 

memory, association, concept formation, pattern recognition, language, attention, perception, action, problem solving, and mental imagery.

Piaget’s cognitive developmental stages:

Sensorimotor stage infancy (0–2 years)

Intelligence is present; motor activity but no symbols; knowledge is developing yet limited; knowledge is based on experiences/ interactions; mobility allows the child to learn new things; some language skills are developed at the end of this stage. 

The goal is to develop object permanence, achieving a basic understanding of causality, time, and space.

Preoperational stageToddler and Early Childhood (2–7 years)

Symbols or language skills are present; memory and imagination are developed; non-reversible and non-logical thinking; shows intuitive problem solving; begins to perceive relationships; grasps the concept of conservation of numbers; predominantly egocentric thinking.

Concrete operational stage-Elementary and Early Adolescence (7–12 years)

Logical and systematic form of intelligence; manipulation of symbols related to concrete objects; thinking is now characterized by reversibility and the ability to take the role of another; grasps concepts of the conservation of mass, length, weight, and volume; predominantly operational thinking; nonreversible and egocentric thinking.

Formal operational stageAdolescence and Adulthood (12 years and on)

Logical use of symbols related to abstract concepts; Acquires flexibility in thinking as well as the capacities for abstract thinking and mental hypothesis testing; can consider possible alternatives in complex reasoning and problem-solving.

Exposing individuals with cognitive impairment to daily activities stimulates thinking and memory in a social setting, and seems to improve cognition. 

 The effects of social cognitive stimulation seems to be larger than the effects of some drug treatments.

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