Authored by Dr. Brianna StubbsRobert Chen and Sumeet Sharma • 
July 10, 2016
 • 2 min read

Cognition is the set of all mental abilities and processes related to knowledge and decision making. There are many aspects of cognition that can be independently measured and studied. In this section we deep dive into different areas of cognition, discussing how they're rigorously defined, and how to modulate them.

Internal components of cognition


Attention refers to the ability to focus your mind on one specific thought or task. It is the feeling of being awake and alert, being able to focus on one particular aspect while ignoring distractors. Sometimes, it is necessary to focus for a sustained period -- this is known as sustained attention. (Learn more)


Creativity generally refers to one's ability to recognize ideas, or strategies or concepts that may be useful for solving problems, enriching our lives, or communicating with others. (Learn more)


Memory is the faculty of the mind by which information is encoded, stored, and retrieved. Memory is vital to experiences and related to limbic systems, it is the retention of information over time for the purpose of influencing future action. It can be broken up into two broad categories: explicit or declarative memory, and implicit or non-declarative memory. (Learn more)


Motivation refers to the totality of extrinsic and intrinsic factors that influence how an individual interacts with the environment. Motivation has been studied in the contexts of behavior as well as genetics, in studies on the normal population as well as medical studies, in particular in the ADHD and dementia populations. (Learn more)


Personality is a person's patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving. It is what makes a person different from other people. (Learn more)

External factors and measures of cognition


Physiological or biological stress is an organism's response to a stressor such as an environmental condition. Stress is the body's natural method of reacting to a challenge. Stimuli that alter an organism's environment are responded to by multiple systems in the body. Through triggering these adaptive responses, stress can alter memory functions, reward, immune function, metabolism and susceptibility to diseases. Too much stress can lead to exhaustion. (Learn more)


Sleep is integral for cognitive processes, and indeed life itself1. Sleep appears to be a fundamental property of neuronal assemblies, and recent evidence has shown that rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, is crucial for memory consolidation.2However, there is not yet scientific consensus on the exact biological reasons why sleep is so crucial. Nonetheless, high quality sleep is widely regarded as an essential tool to potentiate your cognitive performance. (Learn more)


Meditation is an age-old practice, that dates back to as early as 1500 BC in India. It's been estimated that 8% of American adults engage in some form of meditation. Most of the interest in meditation has centered around control of stress, but emerging research supports broader physiological and cognitive effects of meditation. (Learn more)

Single Tasking vs Multitasking

Human multitasking is an apparent human ability to perform more than one task, or activity, over a short period (1 hour). An example of multitasking is talking to a friend while typing a text message and reading an email. Multitasking can result in time wasted due to human context switching and apparently causing more errors due to insufficient attention. However, if one is proficient at one of the tasks at hand, then it is possible to do these tasks. (Learn more)

EEG Measures of Cognition

Electroencephalography (EEG) is an electrophysiological monitoring method to record electrical activity of the brain. It is typically noninvasive, with the electrodes placed along the scalp, although invasive electrodes are sometimes used in specific applications. EEG measures voltage fluctuations resulting from ionic current within the neurons of the brain. (Learn more)

Military veterans and Biohacking

Military veterans may have undergone unique environmental stressors that could benefit from supplementation from nootropics. In this article we cover important neuropsyhiatric conditions, such as PTSD and depression, that are prevalent in the veteran population, and describe the influence of nootropics on these conditions. (Learn more)

Read more about how to optimize the different external factors in the "Hacking Cognition" section

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