Cognitive science is the discipline or collection of disciplines that scientifically studies knowledge and knowing in intelligent entities, including humans, nonhuman animals, and synthetic computational entities, such as robots. Cognition includes perception, thinking, learning, memory, reasoning and problem solving, and linguistic and nonlinguistic communication.
Increasingly, researchers also integrate the study of affective responses—emotion—into the study of cognition. Questions about cognition are interesting in their own right, but researchers also study cognition because it influences, and is influenced by, overt behavior. For example, what we know about the layout of the environment influences where we choose to travel, while exploratory movements to new locations provide us with knowledge about the layout of that environment. This entry explains the relevance of cognitive science to geographic information science and presents several theoretical approaches for the scientific study of cognition.
Cognitive science is inherently multidisciplinary, and to the degree that new concepts and methods have emerged from the interaction of different disciplines, it is interdisciplinary. Traditionally, since it began in the 1950s, the core disciplines constituting cognitive science have included experimental psychology (particularly cognitive and perceptual), philosophy of mind, linguistics, neuroscience, and computer and information science. Several other disciplines have developed cognitive approaches and contributed to the diverse array of methods and topics in cognitive science, including anthropology, biology, education, engineering, mathematics, physics, and more.