Cognition is the mental process in which an individual acquires knowledge through sense, experiences, and thoughts. Different people have diversified ways of perceiving things. Some people understand whatever they are taught instantly while others have to do more detailed research to have an understanding (Ungerer & Schmid, 2013). There is this typical group of students that use the things that they can see or feel as an understanding tool.  The usage of this term may vary in each discipline. However, all the definitions come down to one fundamental concept that is: Understanding or knowledge acquisition.  This paper analyzes the concept of cognition and provides the different types of cognition. The article also highlights on the various learning theories on this concept and the cognition models, processes and abilities.

Cognition Types

The issue on cognition types has drawn so many controversies between theorists and psychologists (Blankson, O'Brien, Leerkes, Marcovitch, & Calkins, 2011). Different scholars have come with various kinds and models of concept attainment. Advocacy or appearance is one such form of cognition that is the capability of making something look attractive or good (Ungerer & Schmid, 2013). Creativity is also a type of cognition and is the ability that an individual has of coming up with original ideas or solution to given problems. Emotional intelligence also forms a part of cognition as it enables people to understand their emotions as well as those of other characters thereby allowing them to relate well with others. These concepts of cognition can be further grouped into two broad categories that are the Type1 and Type 2 thinking. The Type1 cognition is characterized by its conscious, automatic, speedy, contextual, and emotional nature (Blankson et al., 2011). The Type1 thoughts shape the behaviors of most people. An example of a situation in which this cognition type is applied is when a motorist stops at the yellow light or when a person has an intuition on how to provide a solution to a problem. The Type2 thinking is a cognition model characterized by its intentional, deliberate, effortful, and explicit nature. This type can also be termed as an exact form of cognition since it depends on the memory capacity of an individual’s brain unlike Type 1 that is dependent on the conductivity of the brain (Wyer &Scrull, 2014).

Processes of Cognition

Cognition is a long and tedious process. For a student to understand a given procedure or concept, the first step is to pay attention to the instructors (Ungerer & Schmid, 2013). An average person can process two to three tasks simultaneously. However, the complexity of a task determines the level of attention as an average person can only perform one complex task at a time. The next step after concentration is to put the information in a storage medium. Human beings use the brain as their natural store. There are three standard degrees of memory through which the information gathered travels for a concept to be learned comprehensively (Blankson et al., 2011). The first level is the sensory register where all the information that an individual is exposed to is held for one or two seconds. By the time a person is exposed to a long sentence, there is a high possibility that they may not remember the critical context of the phrase. However, when a person reads the sentence one more time, the information is moved to the short-term memory from the sensory register. This section holds an individual’s memory for about thirty seconds to a minute. Whenever someone rehearses on a concept frequently while taking notes and carrying out profound knowledge on it, there may be a chance that the information will go to the long-term memory. This level of memory has unlimited capacity and is capable of holding different pieces of information indefinitely (Wyer &Scrull, 2014). The main issue with long-term memory is the location and acquisition of the information stored in this section.

The human brain organizes information after an individual has paid attention and the information is moved to the memory. The central aim or acquiring information is to understand its intended meaning, and this is done through encoding (Wyer &Scrull, 2014). Encryption works through numerous processes such as the development of verbal mnemonics. Educators have different ways of coming up with mnemonics that will enable their students to memorize diverse concepts. Encoding and retrieval are correlated.

Types of Cognitive Processing

The processing of information also occurs differently as people perceive information using various techniques. The first type of cognitive processing is linear that involves processing information in a straight forward logical progression beginning from a part of the info to the entire data. Holistic processing focusses on the quantity rather than quality and involves handling information from whole to part. Sequential cognitive processing or information handling in a given order: it may be from first to last or vice-versa (Wyer &Scrull, 2014). Cognitive processing can also be done randomly whereby no priority is awarded to the information to be processed. Therefore, this kind of information handling hops from one task to another. Individuals who use the logical cognitive processing technique tend to handle their information bit by bit and use logic to find solutions to specific problems. Concrete dispensation involves handling things that can be felt, touched, or seen. Many slow learners use this type of cognitive processing (Mahoney, 2013). Other cognitive handling types include verbal, nonverbal, symbolic, and intuitive processing that involve the processing of information by ideas and thoughts with words, using illustrations, processing symbols and pictures, and whether or not the information feels right respectively. Finally, there are two more complex types of cognitive processing are reality-based, and fantasy-based. Reality based has its main focus on the existing rules and regulations while fantasy based primarily uses creativity with a negligible focus on norms and rules.

Cognitive Abilities

The discussion on cognition is incomplete without a proper analysis of the cognitive abilities and skills. Dr. Pascale Michelon produced an article that highlighted on some of the existing expertise and capabilities and how they can be boosted.  According to Pascale, cognition is a mental process that contributes to most actions carried out by human beings when they are awake (Michelon, 2014). These brain-based skills enable individuals to perform tasks starting from the least to the most complex. The brain consists of distinct neural networks that provide support to cognitive skills and abilities such as the temporal lobe located behind the forehead. This section provides the brain functions with a major involvement in cognition (Michelon, 2014).


This is the ability to recognize and interpret sensory stimuli such as smell, touch, and hearing. Visual perception is one central cognitive skill that assists in decision making. The brain function involved in perception is the occipital lobe that is responsible for the visual reaction.


The capability to maintain concentration on a given thought, object or action is known as attention. Attentiveness can also be defined as the ability to carry out management practices on competing demands in the environment.


This skill allows individuals to generate a verbal output after translating sounds into words.

Visual and spatial processing

This is the mental ability to handle visual stimuli and establish an understanding of the spatial association between objects and to have a visualization of scenarios and images.

Motor skills

This is the cognitive skill that ensures that an individual can mobilize muscles thereby mobilizing objects.


Memory is also a cognitive ability despite being a process of cognition. Memory is essential in the entire learning process as it is useless to acquire knowledge and not being able to store it (Michelon, 2014).

Cognitive Theories

There are several theories brought forward by different theorists. The most common arguments are constructivism founded by Jean Piaget and the Gestalt theory. The latter theory originated from the Gestalt psychology developed by Wolfgang Kohler in the early 1900s in Germany. This school of thought migrated to the United States in the 1920s. The word Gestalt roughly means organization or configuration and has its primary emphasis on the whole of human experiences (Mahoney, 2013). The Gestalt theorists strived hard in providing descriptions and demonstration of the principles that are aimed at explaining the way individuals plan their sensations into perceptions. The psychologists in this theory suggest that people learn by establishing associations between what is new and old instead of obtaining information on what is in front of them. The ability to generate learning experiences and interpret data that may be conflicting with those of the people around them.

Gestalt psychologists are always in criticism of the thoughts of behaviorism since the behaviorists do not look at the patterns but focus on isolated events. The Gestalts think that behaviorists are too independent on unconcealed traits to explain cognitions (Mahoney, 2013). With time, the Gestalts line of thought was relabeled as cognitive theories. Two fundamental assumptions are incorporated into this cognitive approach. The first assumption is that the system of memory is a component that processes information and that the knowledge that was acquired earlier is pivotal in the learning process. Secondly, prior knowledge must exist for fruitful to learning to occur. Learners can comfortably apply prior knowledge to more complex topics.

Constructivism, on the other hand, emphasizes that knowledge is constructed through active involvement in learning (Mahoney, 2013). Students use background knowledge as building blocks of more advanced learning topics. Constructivism argues that the curriculum developers should ensure that the curricula are designed in a manner that they incorporate pupils’ background information. Piaget referred to the pieces or building blocks of knowledge as schemata. The theorist noted that children learn by combining the existing schema with those that they are currently acquiring.

All in all, cognition is a vast topic that refers to the mental process that contributes to most actions carried out by human beings when they are awake or the mental process in which an individual acquires knowledge through sense, experiences, and thoughts. This paper highlights on the different aspects of cognition such as the various types of cognition, learning theories on this concept and the cognition models, processes, and abilities. The ideas that are discussed in this paper include the Constructivism theory founded by Jean Piaget and the Gestalts theory that is regarded as the mother of all cognitive theories.