What is a „Cognitive Failure“? Explanation, meaning, definition

In the modern world, people are constantly confronted with complex tasks and a relative abundance of information. Cognitive abilities are not always at their best. And these are becoming increasingly important for coping with today’s everyday and professional life. Cognitive abilities refer to the brain’s capacity to perform. They include the ability to solve complex tasks and to store, process and retrieve information.

In a sense, a „cognitive failure“ represents a derailment of this function of the brain. This is because it describes a mental failure in which mental performance can be suspended for a short or longer period of time. This can be the case due to a disease, but also due to numerous other reasons. We encounter „Cognitive Failures“ relatively often in everyday life, whereby the effects can vary greatly in different situations.

The following article therefore deals with the definition of the word „Cognitive Failure“ and which characteristics and causes it can have. In addition, types and manifestations and potential countermeasures for „Cognitive Failure“ will be highlighted.

Definition of Cognitive Failure

Usually, a „Cognitive Failure“ describes a short-term malfunction of our mental capacities, however, it can also occur as part of an underlying illness or disability. The word itself has a strong negative connotation.

Types and manifestations of Cognitive Failure

A „Cognitive Failure“ can manifest itself in various ways. Among them mainly in the form of mental deficits, such as memory loss or slow information processing. Indirectly, however, „Cognitive Failure“ can also lead to harmful behaviors, such as inattention and concentration problems. Hesitant decision making can also be mentioned here as a negative effect of a „Cognitive Failure“. In the following subsections, the types and manifestations of a „Cognitive Failure“ will be discussed in more detail.

Forgetfulness and Memory Failure

Under the influence of „Cognitive Failure“ important information or experiences as well as knowledge about everyday tasks can be unavailable without further ado. The reason for this is that information cannot be retrieved from memory. Memory failure can sometimes have serious effects on interpersonal communication. At the same time, „cognitive failures“ cause frustration, loss of efficiency and increase the likelihood of errors for those affected.

Slow information processing

Slow processing of information is another main characteristic of „Cognitive Failure“. This can occur primarily when the individual is simultaneously under time pressure and/or stress while facing an overwhelming flood of information. This slows reaction time and can introduce a general feeling of being overwhelmed. As information processing speed drops, so does one’s own productivity and efficiency. This has a negative effect on the private and professional environment.

Inattention and concentration problems

Overstimulation and constant distractions can also lead to cognitive failure. Since the mental focus is thus scattered on many different things at the same time, it is not possible to muster sufficient thinking power for any of the targeted activities – a mental block develops that paralyzes the mind. Instead of being able to listen attentively, the affected person suddenly finds it incredibly difficult to follow a conversation.

Hesitant decision making

Forgetfulness, lack of concentration and slow processing of information almost inevitably lead to hesitant decision-making. This can have a particularly negative effect in situations where quick action is required – for example, when driving a car.

Dangers of a „Cognitive Failure“

A „Cognitive Failure“ should never be underestimated and has the following dangers:

  • Increased susceptibility to error (in activities, important tasks or decisions)
  • Impaired performance (in mental tasks)
  • Major safety risks (for example in road traffic, at work or at home)
  • Interpersonal communication worse (forgetfulness and inattention can make social interactions more difficult)
  • Stress and frustration (due to perceived „cognitive failures“)
  • Lower quality of life (as Cognitive Failures make daily and professional life more difficult)

Causes of Cognitive Failure

The causes of Cognitive Failure are not well understood and can vary from individual to individual. However, cognitive overload and information overload can often be responsible. Multitasking“, lack of sleep as well as chronic exhaustion can also end in a „Cognitive Failure“ sooner or later. Inattention and problems with memory in particular can also be caused by underlying diseases such as ADHD. Stress and anxiety are further causes of cognitive performance being reduced in the short or long term.

Coping strategies for cognitive failure

There are now a number of effective coping strategies for cognitive failure. For example, mindfulness exercises have been shown to be particularly effective in improving the ability to be more present in the present moment and to disallow distractions. Furthermore, prioritization, regular rest breaks, as well as more sleep and a better diet can often provide relief.

If underlying diseases are the cause of regular „cognitive failures,“ on the other hand, an appropriate specialist should be consulted urgently. Overall, cognitive failures are easily treatable and often only temporary. The most helpful way to cope with cognitive failures is to identify the individual causes and then combat them.

Conclusion on the subject of „Cognitive Failure“

In summary, it can be said that „Cognitive Failure“ is a comparatively common phenomenon in which the individual’s thinking ability can be lowered in the short or long term. Forgetfulness, slowed information processing, concentration problems and hesitant decision making are considered the main characteristics of a „Cognitive Failure“. Stress, lack of sleep, and cognitive overload or potential underlying diseases are often the causes of „Cognitive Failure“.

Related to the term „Cognitive Failure“ are, among others, the terms „cognitive overload“, „cognitive impairment“ as well as „mental overload“. While „cognitive overload“ tends to refer to the overstepping of mental abilities, „cognitive impairment,“ like „cognitive failure,“ tends to mean the consequences of overload. „Mental Overload“ can be mentioned as an alternative name for „Cognitive Overload“.

Autor: Pierre von BedeutungOnline

Hallo, ich bin Autor und Macher von BedeutungOnline. Bei BedeutungOnline dreht sich alles um Worte und Sprache. Denn wie wir sprechen und worüber wir sprechen, formt wie wir die Welt sehen und was uns wichtig ist. Das darzustellen, begeistert mich und deswegen schreibe ich für dich Beiträge über ausgewählte Worte, die in der deutschen Sprache gesprochen werden. Seit 2004 arbeite ich als Journalist. Ich habe Psychologie und Philosophie mit Schwerpunkt Sprache und Bedeutung studiert. Ich arbeite fast täglich an BedeutungOnline und erstelle laufend für dich neue Beiträge. Mehr über BedeutungOnline.de und mich erfährst du hier.

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