What are the most common cognitive problems?

Cognition is a general concept that has to do with the way that humans or other sentient beings think, concentrate, remember, plan, perceive, and understand. Cognitive problems, then, are problems in which any of these actions are impaired. Given the wide scope of things that involve cognition, you can understand why it is extremely difficult to list the most common cognitive problems. So many things can briefly or permanently impair cognition that it can be difficult to judge exactly which of these things is most common. At the very least, it is useful to discuss some of the more common cognitive problems.

Since part of cognition is "focus," it's no surprise that conditions like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD/ADD) can be among the most common cognitive problems. Nearly 5% of American adults suffer from this condition, and it can affect about the same percentage in schoolchildren. In the classroom, it is about one or two children per class who may have ADHD. This disorder illustrates an important point regarding cognition; It is clearly not associated with intelligence, as many of these children are highly intelligent. However, ADD/ADHD can have a big effect on performance and easily convince children or adults that they are not smart because they must try to compete with other people's work without having significant cognitive ability.

Another frequently discussed cognitive problem is the damage caused by Alzheimer's disease. The disease gradually or rapidly impairs memory and also has an effect on other cognitive areas. As people reach their mid-60s, they have about a 10% chance of getting this disease, and this percentage increases with age, so that by age 85, there are about 50% of people affected by Alzheimer's. It is not only this disease that can affect memory; People can experience memory loss due to a stroke, due to the medications they take, and due to conditions such as brain chemotherapy, which affects people with cancer.

In fact, a variety of diseases, conditions, or medications can cause cognitive problems. Women going through menopause, for example, often report cognitive problems. People with mental illness, even when treated with medication, may have difficulties in one or more cognitive areas, and chronic stress affects the ability to do things like plan or remember effectively. Those who suffer from strokes can have a significant impact on speech/language processing, memory, concentration, and in other areas. Insomnia and other sleep disorders play a role in creating cognitive problems such as poor concentration, reduced memory, and an inability to plan effectively.

What these examples of cognitive problems are saying is that many people are likely to encounter them, short-term or long-term. Full capacity cognition is a fragile thing that can be easily reduced by a wide variety of factors. Clearly more study is needed in this area to understand how humans can best live with deficits in cognition or to find methods to restore function.

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