What are Cognitive Systems?

Victoria Rodriguez Baziuk

A cognitive system is, broadly speaking, something that seeks to mimic or better understand the way humans process complex situations. Sometimes these systems take the form of machines and medical interventions that try to increase a person’s cognitive functions, and might be used to help people who have difficulties processing information. Much of the research behind machine-based systems is closely linked with artificial intelligence (AI), a movement that looks for ways to condense and encapsulate the process of human reasoning and decision-making and then transfer those processes to machines, thus making them “intelligent,” at least in a sense. Cognitive science and related systems also have a close relationship with psychology and sociological theory, and in these contexts the discipline is often thought of as a model for anticipating human responses to certain changes or new information. In all applications, the term is usually used to describe something that either anticipates or mimics the way people process complicated mental or physical tasks.

Some cognitive systems can beat the best humans at games like chess.
Some cognitive systems can beat the best humans at games like chess.

Brain as a Model

The human brain is the center of cognitive processing generally, and can be thought of as the original or model cognitive system. When people talk about systems outside the realm of strict anatomy, though, they’re usually referring to something that tries to work like a brain. Sometimes this is really overt, like a medical machine used to help a person do things like breathe and keep a steady heartbeat — things the brain usually does in those who are healthy. In other instances, the influence is more detached. An algorithm intended to find patterns in speech or to guess at the process through which thoughts are created and acted upon is one example.

Modern anesthesia machines often feature cognitive systems, but manual options such as the ventilation bag exist as backup.
Modern anesthesia machines often feature cognitive systems, but manual options such as the ventilation bag exist as backup.

Cognitive processes as a whole encompass a very large number of tasks and operations, and can be either conscious or unconscious. They frequently also penetrate a variety of different contexts such as linguistics, anesthesia, neurology, psychology, philosophy, systemics, and computer science. In regards to the disciplines of psychology or philosophy, cognition includes complex realms of the mind, reasoning, perception, intelligence, learning, and other informational capacities, as well as the expectations of the artificial mind.

Role of Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence is a very important factor when discussing systems based on cognitive knowledge and realizations. In general, artificial intelligence is a field of computer science that focuses on developing machines that incorporate behavior that humans view as being intelligent. With over five decades of research in artificial intelligence and its functions, in combination with the fascination many people have with intelligent machines, the overall achievement of developing such cognitive machines is advancing very rapidly.

Cognitive Machines

A cognitive machine is an intelligent device that has the ability to take information from the environment and use it to make decisions. This is much like the processes in human thinking, and in many respects is actually intended to mimic human thought. The machine uses the data gathered based on stimuli provided by the environment and corresponds changes within itself in order to adjust to the environment and the larger surroundings.

Researchers all over the world are building such intelligent cognitive machines that can imitate many behaviors of humans, including thoughts and speech. These cognitive computers are even designed to beat the best human chess players. There are experts in advanced technology who are hopeful that these cognitive computers and cognitive systems will also incorporate varying levels of consciousness.

As a Theory and a Science

Cognitive systems and cognitive theory are two types of science that, when combined, make a highly intelligent combination. Cognitive theory is a term used in psychology to explain human behavior and its correlation to the thinking processes in the human mind. Since humans are considered to be logical beings, they are believed to make decisions based on rationality.

Cognitive theory resists the ideas of behaviorism. Behaviorism incorporates the concept that human behavior is purely contributed to inclusive factors of cause and effect. Advances in technology, however, such as the concepts found in cognitive systems, have lead some researchers more towards a synergistic combination of the two concepts to form a better overall comprehensive type of therapy.

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Discussion Comments


You should start from a framework for writing cognitive models, e.g. Cogent, ACT-R, or production systems. Read about Young and O'Shea's subtraction model, which shows how to design a system capturing the way young children make mistakes when learning to do subtraction sums.


@Victoria: How can one prepare a psychological blueprint of a human being, especially of a school going child if one wants to design a cognitive system? Thanks! Regards, Varnika

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