Many people assume that cognitive function is rather like height.
That is, it’s a single, unchanging (at least, once we’re fully grown), physical measurement of some aspect of ourselves that we can rely on to stay constant, day in and day out. In part, this is because our notions of what cognition is are based on the ﬁrst real tests of human behaviour that were designed in the 1950s and 60s to assess aspects of human performance, long before we knew very much at all about how the brain makes these behaviours happen.
Many of these tests were based on outdated concepts like “IQ,” which seek to reduce cognition to a single number and, while they do assess how well a person can perform simple tasks, they take absolutely no account of the revolution in neuroscientiﬁc understanding that has occurred over the last 25 years.
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