What Are Cognitive Functions in Psychology?


Vincent White

Cognitive functions refer to the mental processes that are involved in acquiring, processing, and utilizing information. These functions help us to make sense of the world around us.

In psychology, cognitive functions are studied extensively to understand how the mind works. In this article, we will explore what cognitive functions are and how they impact our behavior.

What Are Cognitive Functions?

Cognitive functions are mental processes that include perception, attention, memory, language, learning, reasoning, problem-solving, decision-making, and creativity. These functions are interrelated and work together to help us process information from the environment and respond appropriately.


Perception is the process by which we interpret sensory information from our environment. It involves recognizing patterns and making sense of what we see, hear, touch, taste or smell. Perception is subjective and can be influenced by our past experiences.


Attention is the ability to focus on a particular stimulus while ignoring others. It is essential for learning and memory as it helps us filter out irrelevant information. Attention can be divided into two types- selective attention and divided attention.


Memory is the ability to store and retrieve information over time. It is crucial for learning as it helps us retain new knowledge. Memory can be divided into three types- sensory memory, short-term memory (STM), and long-term memory (LTM).


Language is a complex cognitive function that involves both comprehension (understanding) and production (speaking or writing) of words. It involves several processes such as phonology (sounds), syntax (grammar), semantics (meaning), pragmatics (social use), and discourse (conversation).


Learning refers to acquiring new knowledge or skills through experience or study. It can be divided into two types- implicit learning (unconscious) and explicit learning (conscious).


Reasoning is the process of thinking logically and making conclusions based on evidence. It involves deductive reasoning (drawing conclusions from general principles) and inductive reasoning (drawing conclusions from specific instances).


Problem-solving is the ability to find solutions to complex problems. It involves several cognitive functions such as perception, attention, memory, reasoning, and creativity.


Decision-making is the process of choosing the best course of action among several alternatives. It involves several cognitive functions such as perception, attention, memory, reasoning, problem-solving, and emotions.


Creativity refers to the ability to generate novel ideas or solutions to problems. It involves several cognitive processes such as perception, attention, memory, reasoning, problem-solving, and emotions.


Cognitive functions are essential for our daily life activities. They help us perceive the world around us accurately, learn new things efficiently, solve complex problems effectively and make decisions wisely. Understanding these functions can help us improve our mental abilities and lead a more fulfilling life.