Memory, Learning and Cognition

Cognition is the term used to define the process of thoughts, including memory, awareness, reasoning and perception. Cognitive enhancement describes the improvement of the information processing systems of the mind and the extension of its main capacities, which can be undertaken simply by learning, especially during early development.

Research Areas

Interventions to improve cognitive function therefore affect attention, judgement, understanding and memory and use this to guide behavior and co-ordinate motor output. It is thought that limiting beliefs, removing psychological barriers and increasing confidence may all improve cognitive function.

Cognitive enhancement includes both medical and psychological interventions, the most obvious, conventional method being education and training for the improvement of concentration and critical thinking. Medical interventions involve the use of nootropic drugs also known as 'smart drugs' which have physiological effects on the brain. Nootropic drugs are used in the reduction of neurotoxins and alleviation of cognitive deficits in the damaged brain. They work by increasing the supply of neurochemicals and oxygen to the brain or by stimulating nerve growth. Nootropic drugs act to improve learning, memory, resistance to disruptive conditions and injury, and the efficacy of cortical control. Dietry supplements, such as vitamins and nutrients also act as nootropic agents by frequently replenishing neurotransmitters in the brain. Other 'cognitive enhancers' include caffeine, nicotine and hallucinogens.

Numerous disorders such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), schizophrenia, dementia, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease are characterized by cognitive impairment. Means of cognitive enhancement may be employed to improve cognitive flexibility in these cases. However, cognitive enhancement remains to be controversial, especially with the notion of enhancer drugs becoming available for general consumption. This has become more recently apparent with students attempting to increase their alertness and concentration with drugs such as Ritalin, widely used in for ADHD sufferers.

Literature for Memory, Learning and Cognition

Tocris offers the following scientific literature for Memory, Learning and Cognition to showcase our products. We invite you to request* or download your copy today!

*Please note that Tocris will only send literature to established scientific business / institute addresses.

Learning & Memory

Learning & Memory Poster

Recognition memory enables us to make judgements about whether or not we have encountered a particular stimulus before. This poster outlines the cellular mechanisms underlying recognition memory and its links to long-term depression, as well as the use of pharmacological intervention to assess the role of neurotransmitters in recognition memory.