The term cognition is used in several loosely related ways to refer to a faculty for the human-like processing of information, applying knowledge and changing preferences.
Cognition or cognitive processes can be natural and artificial, conscious and not conscious; therefore, they are analyzed from different perspectives and in different contexts, in anesthesia, neurology, psychology, philosophy, systemics and computer science.
The concept of cognition is closely related to such abstract concepts as mind, reasoning, perception, intelligence, learning, and many others that describe numerous capabilities of human mind and expected properties of artificial or synthetic intelligence.
Cognition is an abstract property of advanced living organisms; therefore, it is studied as a direct property of a brain or of an abstract mind on subsymbolic and symbolic levels.
In psychology and in artificial intelligence, it is used to refer to the mental functions, mental processes and states of intelligent entities (humans, human organizations, highly autonomous robots), with a particular focus toward the study of such mental processes as comprehension, inferencing, decision-making, planning and learning (see also cognitive science and cognitivism).
Recently, advanced cognitive researchers have been especially focused on the capacities of abstraction, generalization, concretization/specialization and meta-reasoning which descriptions involve such concepts as beliefs, knowledge, desires, preferences and intentions of intelligent individuals/objects/agents/systems.
The term "cognition" is also used in a wider sense to mean the act of knowing or knowledge, and may be interpreted in a social or cultural sense to describe the emergent development of knowledge and concepts within a group that culminate in both thought and action.