What is Cognitive Science? An Introduction

by Andrew Hall

"We are our thoughts; what you think, you become."

Purpose

Cognitive science is partly defined as the study of thought, learning, and mental organization, which are all investigable functions of the human brain. Therefore, by understanding the principles of the brain, we can take a step forward in holistically knowing what the mind is.

Neuroscience and Consciousness

The brain is comprised of billions of neurons. Neurons are the fundamental cells in the brain that communicate to perform most bodily functions and higherlevel cognitions. The thing that makes these cells unique is that they are plastic and able to adapt based on the experiences they encounter. Scientists' ability to study the connections and specific importances of groups of neurons across the brain contributes to the understanding of how humans learn, think, and change.

Various behavioral methods like electroencephalography (EEG) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) allow us to record neural action in the brain during various tasks relating to cognitive function. By using these techniques, and others, it has been proven that the frontal lobe of the brain plays a large part in higherlevel cognitive functions like analyzing information, solving future problems, developing strategies, and controlling purposeful behaviors. This is significant because lowerlevel primates do not have developed frontal lobes and therefore are unable to complete these complex actions. This ability to perform higherlevel functions, that aren't simply primitive or instinctive responses, is what makes us distinctly human, and ultimately what composes our unique conscious mind.

While neuroscience can solve many questions about what it truly means to be a conscious being (like the ability to control instinctive behaviors), it cannot answer them all. Some human functions still remain mysterious because neuroscience can't pin down concepts like free will or behavioral control. In conclusion, the mind is certainly an emergence from the brain, but it isn't necessarily a distinct subject that can be entirely comprehended by science in today’s time.

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