What Is the Relationship between Brain and Cognitive Science?

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  • Written By: Marlene de Wilde
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 18 September 2019
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The brain and cognitive science are interconnected as cognitive science is the interdisciplinary study of the mind and intelligence and the brain is the physical and biological basis of the mind and intelligence. The workings of the brain have always been a mystery but technological advances such as imaging have led to a wider understanding of what goes on in the brain during processes such as thinking, memory and the processing of sensory input. These processes lead to cognitive changes. The relationship between the brain and cognitive science is a biological, psychological and physiological one.

Cognitive science is a relatively new discipline which consists of disciplines such as psychology, philosophy, anthropology, neuroscience, sociology and education. It is the scientific study of what cognition is, the way information is processed and the effects that process has on behavior. Because of sophisticated brain imaging, it is now possible to analyze activity within the brain while it performs various cognitive tasks. Behavior can be linked to physiological brain function which in turn leads to a better understanding of how information is processed.


The discipline which is most concerned with the brain and cognitive science is that of cognitive neuroscience. This is concerned with the scientific study of the biological basis of cognition, especially the neural pathways of mental processing. Basically, the goal of cognitive neuroscience is to describe how the brain creates the mind and the goal of cognitive science is to study the mind. It is no coincidence that cognitive science, cognitive neuroscience and more sophisticated brain imaging techniques came into being almost concurrently. A field of study can only be classed as a science when it is able to be measured and it is only through technological advancements that this became possible.

Many of the principles learned from studying the brain and cognitive science are being applied to areas such as education, artificial intelligence and psychoanalysis. Many of the workings of the brain are still unknown but what has become known has changed much of what was thought to be true. For example, it was once considered a fact that the brain stopped developing at some time in mid-adolescence, but it is now known that the brain continues to develop beyond the age of 20. It has also been discovered that the intake and processing of information is determined by a combination of biological, cognitive and psychosocial factors rather than just one factor to the exclusion of the others. Important insights have been gained in areas as diverse as learning disorders like dyslexia, the process of language acquisition, behavioral finance and cognitive bias and risk perception.


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