At the broadest level, the term cognition refers to the set of all mental abilities. Thus, it includes functions such as attention, perception, learning and memory, planning and execution of action, executive functions, speech, language, and other domains of human mental experience. This entry narrows the field of focus to the three areas (other than speech, language, and auditory perception) most encountered clinically in communicative sciences and disorders: attention, memory, and executive functions.


As with many areas of cognition, the scientific study of attention saw major advances in the late 1800s. William James, in his 1890 magnum opus The Principles of Psychology, described three central aspects of attention that persist in current models of attention: focus, selectivity, and disengagement from (or inhibition of) irrelevant stimuli. Much ...

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