Encyclopedia of Clinical Neuropsychology

2018 Edition
| Editors: Jeffrey S. Kreutzer, John DeLuca, Bruce Caplan

Cognitive Functioning

  • Christina A. PalmeseEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-57111-9_1084


Cognition; Mentation; Thinking


Cognitive functioning is a general term used to describe the different ways that people think. It refers to faculties such as attention, mental processing speed, executive functions, language, visual-spatial skills, memory, and fine motor dexterity. Different cognitive functions are supported by distinct cortical and subcortical brain regions. Disruption of neural processes in these brain regions can result in a range of cognitive deficits and syndromes.

Historical Background

In the 1600s, Descartes, a philosopher, was one of the first scholars to establish the idea that the brain controls behavior. In the late 1700s, Franz Gall, a forefather of phrenology (the study of behavior based on the size and shape of the skull), helped identify that different parts of the brain regulate distinct aspects of thought, personality, and behavior. Later on in the 1800s and 1900s, scientists including Wilder Penfield, Hughlings Jackson, Paul Broca,...

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References and Readings

  1. Heilman, K. M., & Valenstein, E. (2011). Clinical neuropsychology (5th ed.). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
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  5. Squire, L. R., & Schacter, D. L. (2003). Neuropsychology of memory (3rd ed.). New York: The Guilford Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of NeurologyMount Sinai Beth IsraelNew YorkUSA