Cognitive functions are mental processes that allow us to carry out any task. They allow the subject to have an active role in the processes of receiving, choosing, transforming, storing, processing and retrieval of information, allowing the subject to navigate the world around him.
Orientation is the ability that allows awareness of oneself and one’s surroundings at all times.
Gnosis is the ability of the brain to recognize previously learned information such as objects, persons, or places collected from our senses. Thus, there are different types of gnosis, one for each sensory modality, and gnosis which combine different sensory modalities.
Attention is the process of directing cognitive resources towards certain aspects of the environment, or towards the execution of certain actions that seem most appropriate. It refers to the state of observation and alertness that allows awareness of what is happening in the environment (Ballesteros, 2000).
In other words, attention is the ability to generate, direct, and maintain an appropriate state of alertness to correctly process information.
There are five different attention processes:
Executive functions are complex cognitive processes necessary for planning, organizing, guiding, revising, regulating, and evaluating behavior necessary to adapt effectively to the environment and to achieve goals (Bauermeister, 2008).
Executive functioning involves abilities and processes vital for daily life such as:
Praxis refers to learned motor activity. In other words, praxis is the generation of volitional movement for the performance of a particular action or towards achieving a goal.
Different types of praxis include:
Language is a high-level cognitive function that develops processes of symbolization related to encoding and decoding.
According to Lecours et al. (1979), language refers to the production of spoken or written signs that symbolize objects, ideas, etc. in accordance with a linguistic community’s own convention.
Within language there are various functions which can be disrupted:
Memory is the ability to encode, store, and effectively retrieve previously learned information or past experiences. Memory is divided into two main types:
Visuospatial skill is the ability to represent, analyze, and mentally manipulate objects. There are two important concepts relating to visuospatial skills:
The loss of cognitive abilities is due to the normal process of aging. How we age and how we experience this process, as well as our health and functional capacity, depend on both the genetic structure and the environment that has surrounded us throughout our lives.
In addition, there are other factors that can alter cognitive abilities such as neurodegenerative diseases, neurodevelopmental disorders, intellectual disabilities or mental illness. Also, the consumption of narcotic substances, alcoholism, severe physical or mental trauma, can affect brain activity in an acute or chronic way.
It has been shown that deterioration slows down and deficits are milder if we maintain an active and healthy life in stimulating environments and if we continue to work on our abilities through cognitive stimulation practices and exercises.
Higher brain functions such as reasoning, memory and attention are essential for a full and independent life. hroughout the day we use the cognitive functions continuously. Our brain uses different cognitive abilities to prepare food, drive or hold meetings, activating different parts of our hemispheres to a greater or lesser extent.
All the activities that we perform require the use of our brain functions, which involves millions of neural connections distributed throughout our brain lobes and the activation of different areas of the brain to adequately deal with our environment and process the information that we obtain through various channels.
Information processing in the human mind is carried out through the cognitive system. The person has an active role in the processes of reception, selection, transformation, processing, recovery and transformation of the nformation that reaches the brain.
The processing of such information is composed of interrelated cognitive that act together to execute the most complex mental operations. In this way, a cognitive function can be joined or complemented with others to form a higher unit, a cognitive process, on which one can intervene by working on its most basic units (cognitive functions) or on its more elaborate processes (thinking skills).