Cognition is an important part of everyday life. We use it for almost everything that we do. It provides us with the opportunity to engage in meaningful and valuable occupation and gives us the potential to adapt and develop across our lifespan (AOTA, 2013). It is really integral from the time that we wake up in the morning to the time that we go to bed. It helps us plan out our day, and helps us problem solve if we run into issues. It also helps us do the things that we need to do and want to do on a day-to-day basis.
We have many different cognitive functions that help us engage in meaningful occupation. There are few cognitive functions listed in Figure 1.
Figure 1. Cognitive functions.
Information processing is one, how do we take in information from our environment, make sense of it and be able to produce a meaningful response? We know that our routine in the morning is to get up. We are able to process the sound of an alarm, whether it comes from a cell phone or if it comes from an actual alarm clock. When we hear that alarm go off, we know that it is time for us to get up. Some of us press snooze, but some of us get up and start our daily routine. That information processing is really important to be able to produce some sort of meaningful response in conjunction with some piece of information that comes in through the environment.
Attention is another very important cognitive function that we use every day. It is our ability to be able to "attend" to a task. Our attention may be selective attention; like your attention right now if you are watching this presentation. You are focused on this presentation and attending to it. Our attention can also be divided attention, where we are multitasking. An example of this is when I am cooking in the kitchen and my oldest son is sitting at the table and doing homework. I have to divide my attention from cooking a meal at the stove and helping him with his homework. Attention is very important. If we are not able to attend to the task or whatever occupation that we are engaged in at the present time, then we are not going to be able to sequence it, initiate it, terminate, identify problems during the completion of the task, and be able to correct, so that we have a successful occupational outcome.
Memory is also an important part of our everyday life. It is how we are able to process information and produce a valuable response. I will talk a little bit more about the different types of memory in a later slide.
Executive functioning is also important. This is our problem solving ability. It is also emotional regulation to some degree. It helps us do more complex occupations on a day-to-day basis.
Mathematical Abilities/Speech Language Function/Visual Perception/Praxis and Motor Planning
Mathematical abilities are another cognitive function that we use day in and day out as well as speech and language, visual perception, praxis and motor planning are all important to be able to engage in daily occupations.