Cognition is a term that groups together the mental processes of perceiving, recognizing, conceiving, judging, and reasoning. The cognitive psychology focuses on how people and animals as well, structure their experiences, how they make sense of them, and how they relate their current experiences to past ones that have been stored in memory. At any given moment we are bombarded by far more stimuli than we can possibly respond to. How do we filter this overwhelming input, put it into words or images, from hypotheses, and arrive at a perception of what is out there? Cognitive psychologists consider the learning process much more complex than the passive formation of the new stimulus-response associations. Even classical conditioning is viewed by cognitive psychologies as an active process by which organisms learn about relationships among events rather than as an automatic stamping in of associations between stimuli. Moreover, cognitive psychologies regard the learner as an active interpreter of the situation, with the learner’s past knowledge imposing a perceptual funnel on the experience. The learner fits new information into an organized network of already accumulated knowledge, often referred to as schema, or cognitive set. New information may fit the schema; if not, the learner reorganizes the schema to fit the information or construes the information in such a way as to fit the schema.

Although learning paradigms initially avoided cognitive concepts, contemporary experimental psychology is very much concerned with cognitive concepts. The cognitive behavior therapies emphasize the direct manipulation of overt behavior and occasionally of covert behavior, with thoughts and feelings being construed as internal behaviors. [adsense1]They pay relatively little attention to direct alteration of the thinking and reasoning processes of the client. Cognitive psychologists have until recently paid little systematic attention to how their research findings bear on psychopathology or how they might help generate effective therapies. Now cognitive explanations appear more and more often in the search for the causes of abnormality and for new methods of interventions. A widely held view of depression, for example, places the blame in a particular cognitive set, namely, the individual’s overriding sense of hopelessness. Many people who are depressed believe that they have no important effect on their surroundings regardless of what they do. Their destiny seems to them to be out of their hands, and they expect their future to be negative. If depression develops from a sense of hopelessness, this fact could have implications for how clinicians treat the disorder. The cognitive behavior therapy does incorporate theory and research on cognitive processes; it has become a blend of the cognitive and learning paradigms. CBT therapists pay attention to private events – thoughts, perceptions, judgments, assumptions etc and have studied and manipulated these processes in their attempts to understand and modify overt and covert disturbed behavior.