Thinking about Cognitive Thinking

In our day-to-day life, we are often barraged with a wide variety of information through our senses. It is our brain’s duty to receive them, store it, and then retrieve them when needed. Be it school, college, work or anywhere, effective handling of the inbound information will enable our success. This information processing function is only possible with our brain’s cognitive ability.

What is Cognitive Thinking?

Cognitive Thinking or Cognition involves comprehending a situation with gathered knowledge stored in our memory or with the use of new knowledge gained through our thought and experience. It uses already stored knowledge or involves attainment of new knowledge at times.

It is both a conscious as well as an unconscious form of thinking that derives from abstract or concrete data and factual concepts or instinctive information. It entails a wide range of processes in order to make a decision including attention, short-term and long-term memory, reasoning, computation, evaluation, problem solving, logic, etc.

All these processes work in tandem with each other to efficiently perform the function of cognitive thinking. So even if one of the above skills is weak, then it will, in turn, affect the capability of grasping, holding or utilization power of cognitive thinking.

Types of Cognitive Skills

These are the fundamental skills that our brain uses to take in the incoming information and store it in our knowledge bank. All these together meritoriously contribute to our overall cognitive thinking ability.

  1. Sustained and Selective Attention – It gives the much-needed focus on a particular task for a continued period of time. Lack of focus and loss of attention power can lead to a wavering mind with too many unfinished tasks or jumping from one task to another without proper priority. Also, a mind that is prone to easy distractions will lose focus and further impact cognition.
  2. Divided Attention – It refers to the power of multitasking and giving equally divided attention to the tasks at hand. In school or at work, you are often left to do more and more tasks and, therefore, you need to remember information while doing multiple things at a time.
  3. Short-Term Memory – Often referred to as the working memory, it enables you to get a hang of the information in the process of using it at that moment. For example, reading or following multiple instructions of a particular job.
  4. Long-Term Memory – It is our knowledge store that holds onto conceptual or experiential information from the past. When needed for a particular job, it is then retrieved by the brain.
  5. Logic – It refers to the problem solving and reasoning skills of the individual that enables you to form ideas and come up with a solution. The baffling question of what to do next or getting stuck when doing a task is a form of poor reasoning skills.
  6. Auditory Processing – Analyze sounds effectively by taking in, blending and segmenting it according. Lack of this skill results in poor comprehension capability or difficulty in reading
  7. Visual Processing – It involves making sense of information that is taken from our eyes. It is the brain that visualizes information through the eye by means of symbols and pictures.
  8. Speed of Processing – The processing power of every individual varies – some people can be quick and some relatively slow. The age factor also plays an important role in shaping the processing speed.

Cognitive Distortions

These are basically a type of negative thinking that stops our mind from doing something which we can achieve. These sort of negative minds can arise out of bad experiences and keep preventing us from doing a task in a right way. Removing these negative thoughts from our mind will lead to optimization of overall cognitive thinking and eradicate all the hindrances.

  • Filtering – It refers to giving importance to negative aspects alone and dwelling on it without considering the positives of it. It leads to distorted and pessimistic thinking power.
  • Polarized Thinking – It is also known as black and white thinking – things are either perfect or else a complete failure without a possibility of a middle position. For example, thinking that you often fail in trying out something new and, therefore, don’t end up trying at all thinking that it will only lead to failure.
  • Over Conclusive – It involves jumping to conclusion without deep thinking of what a person actually feels or with incomplete analyzing of a situation. Establishing that something will happen and feeling completely convinced about it is a distorted cognitive thinking.
  • Personalization – It is a type of distortion wherein a person thinks that incidents occur out of direct personal reaction relating to them alone. If any untoward event happens, they think that it happened because of them only.
  • Control Fallacy – This distortion occurs when a person always blames external factors for failures. For example, attributing occurrences to fate.
  • Blaming – Holding other people responsible for your actions always is the characteristic of this distortion. Nobody is responsible for our emotions and actions and this should always be kept in mind.
  • Fallacy of Change – This is when we always expect the other person to change themselves to adjust our comfort level.
  • Always being right attitude – Some people also think that they are always right no matter what and being right is most important to them even over other people’s emotions.

As seen above, these are the top cognitive distortions from a behavioral or psychological point of view. How we view ourself is very important in shaping our characteristics and temperament. This, in turn, will affect our cognitive capability and enable us to make optimal decisions.