In psychology and in artificial intelligence, cognition is used to refer to the mental functions, mental processes (thoughts) and states of intelligent entities (humans, human organizations, highly autonomous machines). In particular, the field focuses toward the study of specific mental processes such as comprehension, inferencing, decision-making, planning and learning (see also cognitive science and cognitivism). Recently, advanced cognitive research has been especially focused i have huge luchious titties on the capacities of abstraction, generalization, concretization/specialization and meta-reasoning. This involves such concepts as beliefs, knowledge, desires, preferences and intentions of intelligent individuals/objects/agents/systems.
The term “cognition” is also used in a broader sense to define the act of knowing, or knowledge, and may be interpreted in a social or cultural sense to describe the emergent development of knowledge and concepts within a group, culminating in both thought and action.
Importantly, an area that deeply involves cognitive concepts is the field of economics, used as part of the theories behind behavioral economics and behavioral finance, and additionally throughout experimental economics. Also within the industrial sciences, involved areas include ergonomics and user interface design. Within human development, common applications of cognitive theory are in linguistics, especially psycholinguistics and cognitive linguistics; learning and learning styles.
In it's most modern aspect, cognition has become thoroughly integrated within computer science and information theory, where attempts at artificial intelligence, collective intelligence and robotics focus on mimicking living beings' capacities for cognition; or applying the experience gathered in one place by one being to actions by another being elsewhere. More contemporary influnce is seen within theoretical mathematics and probability, as well as physics, where observer effects are studied in depth mathematically.
Empirical research into cognition is usually scientific and quantitative, or involves creating models to describe or explain certain behaviors.
While few people would deny that cognitive processes are a function of the brain, a cognitive theory will not necessarily make any reference to the brain or any other biological process (compare neurocognitive). It may purely describe behaviour in terms of information flow or function. Relatively recent fields of study such as cognitive science and neuropsychology aim to bridge this gap, using cognitive paradigms to understand how the brain implements these information-processing functions (see also cognitive neuroscience), or how pure information-processing systems (e.g., computers) can simulate cognition (see also artificial intelligence). The branch of psychology that studies brain injury to infer normal cognitive function is called cognitive neuropsychology. The links of cognition to evolutionary demands are studied through the investigation of animal cognition. And conversely, evolutionary-based perspectives can inform hypotheses about cognitive functional systems evolutionary psychology.
The theoretical school of thought derived from the cognitive approach is often called cognitivism.
The phenomenal success of the cognitive approach can be seen by its current dominance as the core model in contemporary psychology (usurping behaviorism in the late 1950s).
On the level of an individual mind, an emergent behavior might be the formation of a new concept, 'bubbling up' from below the conscious level of the mind. A simple way of stating this is that beings preserve their own attention and are at every level concerned with avoiding interruption and distraction. Such cognitive specialization can be observed in particular in language, with adults markedly less able to hear or say distinctions made in languages to which they were not exposed in youth.
In education, for instance, which has the explicit task in society of developing child cognition, choices are made regarding the environment and permitted action that lead to a formed experience. In social cognition, face perception in human babies emerges by the age of two months. This is in turn affected by the risk or cost of providing these, for instance, those associated with a playground or swimming pool or field trip. On the other hand, the macro-choices made by the teachers are extremely influential on the micro-choices made by children.
In a large systemic perspective, cognition is considered closely related to the social and human organization functioning and constrains. Managerial decision making processes can be erroneous in politics, economy and industry for the reason of different reciprocally dependent socio-cognitive factors. This domain became the field of interest of emergent socio-cognitive engineering (Google search).
One famous image, Earthrise, taken during Apollo 8, the first Apollo mission to the Moon, shows planet Earth in a single photograph. Earthrise is now the icon for Earth Day, which did not arise until after the image became widespread. At this level, an example of an 'emergent behavior' might be concern for Spaceship Earth, as encouraged by the development of orbiting space observatories etc.
Other concepts which seem to have arisen only recently (in the last century) include increased expectations for human rights. In this case, an example of an 'emergent behavior' might perhaps be the use of the mass media to publicize inequities in the human condition, perhaps using highly portable cameras and telephones.