Cognitive functions are those mental processes that lead to the acquisition of knowledge and allow us to carry out our daily tasks. 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 follows the normal process of aging. The way in which we age and how this process develops, as well as our health and the functional capacity we have, depend both on our genetic structure and on the environment that we have lived in throughout our lives.
It has been shown that deterioration slows down and that the deficits are milder if one has an active and healthy lifestyle in a stimulating environment and if we continue to work on our cognitive skills through cognitive stimulation exercises.
Higher brain functions such as reasoning, memory or attention are essential to have a full and independent life. Throughout the day we use cognitive functions continuously. Our brain uses the different cognitive abilities to prepare food, drive or participate in meetings, with each activity activating to a greater or lesser extent different parts of the two hemispheres.
All the activities we do require the use of our brain functions. This involves millions of neuronal connections spread out by the cerebral lobes and the activation of different areas of the brain which allows us to interact properly with our environment and process the information we obtain through various channels.
The processing of information in the human mind takes place through the cognitive system. The individual has an active role in the reception, selection, elaboration, recovery and transformation of the information that reaches the brain.
The processing of this information is composed of interrelated cognitive elements that act together to execute the most complex mental operations. In this way, a cognitive function can be linked or complemented with others forming a superior entity or, a cognitive process, which can operate by working its most basic units (cognitive functions) or on its more elaborate processes (thinking skills).