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  • Get access to a complete battery of cognitive tests to assess the mind

  • Identify and assess the presence of alterations or deficits

  • Train the mind's cognitive skills

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What is the mind?

The mind can be defined as a person's set of intellectual or mental faculties. The human mind refers to the group of cognitive psychiatric processes that includes functions like perception, memory, reasoning (executive functions), etc. Depending on how the neurons are activated and connected to the different parts of the brain, our mental skills will be more or less efficient.

Main cognitive skills that make up our mind:

  • Attention: Attention is the ability to choose and concentrate on relevant stimuli. Attention is the cognitive process that makes it possible to position ourselves towards relevant stimuli and consequently respond to it.
  • Perception: Perception is the ability to capture, process, and actively make sense of the information that our senses receive. It is the cognitive process that makes it possible to interpret our surroundings with the stimuli that we receive throughout sensory organs.
  • Memory: Memory is brain's ability to retain information and voluntarily recover it when needed. In other words, memory is what makes it possible to remember facts, ideas, feelings, relationships between concepts.
  • Reasoning (Executive Functions): Superior cognitive functions, like reasoning, make it possible to relate the information that we perceive with the information that we have stored, which helps hypothesize and resolve problems that arise in daily life.
  • Coordination: Coordination is the skill that makes it possible to move efficiently and precisely. It is the mental function responsible for making we efficiently interact with the environment.

Types of mental processes:

If you look closely, it's possible to divide mental processes into two different groups:

  • Conscious Processes: The mental processes that we are aware of and know when they are happening. For example, remembering information that you studied for a test would be a conscious process, as you have to voluntarily and consciously work to remember a stored memory.
  • Subconscious Processes: The mental processes that occur without us realizing. There are studies that show that the body experiences physiological changes (i.e.body temperature) when we are exposed to emotional stimuli for a short period of time (milliseconds), that go unnoticed. This means that even though we are not conscious of these stimuli, the mind is able to react to them. Another example would be when we are exposed to subliminal advertising. Even though we are not conscious of the can that we saw in an ad for a fraction of a second, we suddenly have the urge to go and buy a certain soda.

Are the brain and the mind the same?

How does the mind relate to the body? Even with all of the scientific advancements and discoveries, we still don't have a good answer to the question. The concept of "mind" that is so often talked about comes from the anatomist and philosophist René Descartes. This thinker transformed the idea of Plato's "tripartite soul" into the unitary concept of "mind". He also found that the link between mind and body in a concrete part of the brain, the Pineal Gland (today we know that the main function of this part of the brain is regulating the circadian rhythm). An essential part of Descartes' dual theory is that the brain was undoubtedly related to the mind. However, even with this information, there is still a lack of consensus about whether the brain and the mind are the same. Some argue that they are two words for the same concept, and others argue that mind is a consequence of brain activity.

Improve and strengthen your mind

Our basic mental or cognitive skills are the basis of how the mind works. Throughout our lives, we continue to develop these skills according to genetics and experiences lived. How can you improve your mind? Neuroplasticity makes it possible for the brain to adapt to the needs of the environment, which means that depending on how you stimulate your cognitive skills, they can be developed and improved according to each individual's possibilities.

CogniFit is an easy-to-use scientific tool that measures more than 20 cognitive skills. The precision of these assessments makes it possible to detect a deterioration or alteration in these skills that can later be trained by CogniFit personalized training. These assessments are made up of different tasks in the form of online games. The interactive format makes helps motivate the user find out information about their mind, helping children, adults and seniors improve important mental skills.

Mental disorders and illnesses are a type of mental health alteration that affects well-being of the person suffering and those around them. The main mental illnesses are presented in the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) and the ICD (International Classification of Diseases). While these two classifications have a different organization, the content is the same. Below, you will see the types of mental disorders broken into classifications:

Types of mental disorders according to the DSM-5:

  • Neurological Development Disorders: These disorders encompass a wide variety of alterations that appear develop during childhood and can produce adaptive behavior deficiencies. The type of disorders in this diagnostic category are intellectual deficiencies, autism spectrum disorders, Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD), specific learning disorder, and motor disorders.
  • Schizophrenia Spectrum and Other Psychotic Disorders: Psychotic disorders, like schizophrenia, are characterized by the presence of delirium, hallucinations, and perceptual anomalies, like losing contact with reality. This type of disorder includes schizotypal personality disorder, delusional disorder, Brief psychotic disorder, Schizophreniform disorder, schizophrenia, Schizoaffective disorder, psychotic disorder induced by drugs or medications, catatonia, etc.
  • Bipolar Disorder and Related Disorders: Bipolar disorder consists of a deregulation in controlling emotions which produces mood swings independent of the situation. This group refers to bipolar type I, bipolar disorder type II, cyclothymic disorder, etc.
  • Depressive Disorders: This disorder is characterised by an intense sadness, loss of interest in pleasant activities (anhedonia), and low self-esteem. This type of disorder encompasses Disruptive mood dysregulation disorder (DMDD), major depressive disorder, persistent depressive disorder (dysthymia), and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), etc.
  • Anxiety Disorder: Anxiety disorders are characterized by a high physiological activation and feelings of unease or panic. This category includes disorders like separation anxiety disorder, selective mutism disorder, specific phobia, social phobia, panic disorder, agoraphobia, generalized anxiety disorder, etc.
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and Related Disorders: This is an anxiety disorder with two components: obsessions (that generate anxiety) and compulsions (that reduce anxiety). OCD can appear in different contexts, in different obsessions (ideas, thoughts, intrusive impulses), and compulsions (repetitive behaviors, and stereotypes that reduce anxiety caused by obsessions).
  • Disorders Related to Trauma and Stress Factors: These are disorders that appear after a traumatic or stressful event that causes intense anxiety. It includes reactive attachment disorder, Disinhibited Social Engagement Disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), acute stress disorder, adjustment disorder, etc.
  • Dissociative Disorders: These disorders are made up of perception, memory, identity, or consciousness problems. It includes dissociative identity disorder, dissociative amnesia, and depersonalization-derealization disorder.
  • Somatic Symptom Disorder and Related Disorders: The common thread between these disorders is a genuine physical pain with no physical explanation (or the explanation does not explain the extent of the problem). This group is made up of somatic disorders like Illness anxiety disorder (IAD), conversion disorder, psychological factors that affect other medical problems, factitious disorder, etc.
  • Eating Disorders: This type of disorder is characterized by alterations in behaviors related to eating and dieting. Some disorders in this category are pica, avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID), anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, etc.
  • Excretion Disorders: These disorders are common in young children who have trouble controlling one or multiple sphincter secretors. Enuresis and encopresis are disorders in this group.
  • Sleep-Wake Disorders: These disorders are characterized by an alteration in the ability to correctly regulate the sleep-wake cycle. Some disorders in this category are insomnia, hypersomnia, narcolepsy, sleep apnea, central sleep apnea, hypoventilation related to sleep, circadian rhythm sleep disorders, non-REM sleep arousal disorder, nightmare disorders, REM sleep behavior disorders, and restless leg syndrome
  • Sexual Dysfunctions: Set of disorders that affect the normal development of sexual relationships, including delayed ejaculation, erectile dysfunction, female orgasm disorder, Female sexual arousal disorder, Genito-Pelvic Pain or Penetration disorder, male hypoactive sexual desire disorder, premature ejaculation, etc.
  • Gender Dysphoria: This term applies to those whose gender does not correspond with the sex assigned to them at birth due to biological criteria, which causes discomfort.
  • Destructive Disorders, Impulse and Behavior Control Disorders: This category is made up of different alterations in the regulation and control of behavior and emotions, which translates to activities that could be dangerous to themselves and others. This group is made up of disorders like oppositional defiant disorder, intermittent explosive disorder, behavior disorder, antisocial personality disorder, pyromania, kleptomania, etc.
  • Substance and Addiction Disorders: Disorders related to intoxication, consumption, and abstinence of different substances. This is the case with substance disorders with alcohol, caffeine, cannabis, hallucinogens, inhalants, opioids, sedatives, hypnotics, anxiolytics, stimulants, tobacco, and other substances. However, it also includes other addictions unrelated to substances, like gambling addictions.
  • Neurocognitive Diseases: This category consists of the conditions that can alter the proper functioning of the different cognitive skills. This includes alterations like acute confusional state (delirium), Alzheimer’s disease, frontotemporal dementia, dementia with Lewy bodies, vascular dementia, neurocognitive disorders caused by traumatic brain injury, neurocognitive disorders caused by medications, dementia caused by an HIV infection, neurocognitive disorders caused by prions, Parkinson’s Disease, Huntington’s Disease, etc.
  • Personality Disorders: A set of stable behavioral patterns that are not appropriately adapted to a person’s environment. This includes paranoid personality disorder, schizoid personality disorder, antisocial personality disorder, schizotypal personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, histrionic personality disorder, narcissistic personality disorder, evasive personality disorder, dependent personality disorder, obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, etc.
  • Paraphilia Disorders: They consist of the appearance of recurrent and maladaptive sexual desires or behaviors that generate discomfort in the individual or people around them. Some disorders that make up this category are voyeurism disorder, exhibitionism disorder, frotteurism disorder, sexual masochism disorder, sexual sadism disorder, pediphilia, fetishism disorder, and transvestism disorder.
  • Other Mental Disorders: Includes specific disorders not caused by medicine or drugs, as well as other specific disorders not caused by other causes.
  • Drug-induced motor disorders and other adverse effects of medications: The disorders included in this group are those motor disorders that occur as a result of drug use. This would be the case of parkinsonism induced by neuroleptics, parkinsonism induced by other drugs, neuroleptic malignant syndrome, acute drug-induced dystonia, acute drug-induced akathisia, tardive dyskinesia, tardive dystonia, late akathisia, postural tremor Induced by medications, antidepressant suspension syndrome, etc.
  • Other problems that may be the subject of clinical care: Refers to a wide range of less specific disorders, but may lead to some deterioration in the a person’s life or the people in their environment. The main groups of disorders would be relationship problems, abuse, abuse and neglect, educational and work problems, housing and economic problems, problems related to crime or the legal system, other problems related to the social environment, problems related to other psychosocial, personal or environmental circumstances, other problems related to health services for advice and medical advice and other circumstances of personal history.

Types of mental disorders according to the ICD-10:

  • Mental Disorders Caused by Known Physiological Affections: The conditions in this group are alterations with known mental causes. It includes conditions like dementia (degenerative, vascular, post-encephalitic, infections, toxic, metabolic, neoplasm, nutritional, chronic inflammatory disorders), delirium not caused by drugs, or other mental disorders caused by brain damage or brain dysfunction or a somatic illness.
  • Mental Disorders and Behaviors Caused by the Consumption of Psychotropic Substances: Refers to the use, abuse, and dependence on psychoactive drugs like alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs, as well as intoxication, overdose, and substance poisoning.
  • Schizophrenia: Refers to a mental disorder that alters perception, thought, and emotions. While people with this disorder maintain intellectual abilities in the beginning, intellectual deficits often appear as the disease progresses.
  • Mood (Affective) Disorders: Includes mood disorders, which can range from depression to euphoria. This is the case with bipolar disorder and other forms of depression (includes psychotic and non-psychotic depression).
  • Non-psychotic Somatoform Mental Disorders and Behavioral Disorders Associated with Physiological Disorders and Physical Factors: The psychological disorders that cause organic alterations. Somatoform disorders, pain disorder related to psychological factors, or eating disorders (like anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa).
  • Codification of Suicide Attempts: Self-harm behaviors aimed at ending one's life are described as suicide attempt, suicidal ideation and/or or personal history of self-harm.

These alterations often cause deficits in certain cognitive areas. It is important to mention that cognitive stimulation and rehabilitation can be helpful for a successful intervention as it helps to reduce the cognitive deficits that the patient faces.

Studying The Mind

Psychology is the area of study most responsible for studying the mind. While psychiatry and philosophy also touch on this subject, multiple areas of psychology center on the mind.

In the beginning, psychoanalysis the existence of a dynamic unconscious related to the concept of the mind. However, given that psychoanalysis does not follow the scientific method, it only contributed non-testable theories to the study of the mind.

After this, the behaviorist current argued that the mind could not be scientifically studied. They focused their study on observable behavior so that the study of the mind was relegated to the background.

Finally, cognitive psychology has tried to understand the functioning of the mind through computational models, which provide an important basis for the study of this concept. Unlike behavioral currents and psychoanalysis, cognitive psychology relies on mental processes to study the mind scientifically.

References: [1] Kolb, B., & Whishaw, I. (2009). Part I. Foundations, Chapter 1: Development of Neuropsychology. In Fundamentals of Human Neuropsychology (pp.5-6). New York, New York [2] American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing. [3]Morales, P., Medina, J., Guitiérrez, C., Abejaro, L., Hijazo, L., & Losantos, R.(2016). Los trastornos relacionados con traumas y factores de estrés en la Junta Médico Pericial Psiquiátrica de la Sanidad Militar Española. Sanid. mil., 72 (2), p. 16. [4] World Health Organization. (1992). The ICD-10 classification of mental and behavioural disorders: Clinical descriptions and diagnostic guidelines. Geneva: World Health Organization. Shatil E (2013). Does combined cognitive training and physical activity training enhance cognitive abilities more than either alone? A four-condition randomized controlled trial among healthy older adults. Front. Aging Neurosci. 5:8. doi: 10.3389/fnagi.2013.00008 Korczyn AD, Peretz C, Aharonson V, et al. - Computer based cognitive training with CogniFit improved cognitive performance above the effect of classic computer games: prospective, randomized, double blind intervention study in the elderly. Alzheimer's & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer's Association 2007; 3(3):S171.Shatil E, Korczyn AD, Peretz C, et al. - Improving cognitive performance in elderly subjects using computerized cognitive training - Alzheimer's & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer's Association 2008; 4(4):T492.Verghese J, Mahoney J, Ambrose AF, Wang C, Holtzer R. - Effect of cognitive remediation on gait in sedentary seniors - J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2010 Dec;65(12):1338-43.Evelyn Shatil, Jaroslava Mikulecká, Francesco Bellotti, Vladimír Burěs - Novel Television-Based Cognitive Training Improves Working Memory and Executive Function - PLOS ONE July 03, 2014. 10.1371/journal.pone.0101472. Gard T, Hölzel BK, Lazar SW. The potential effects of meditation on age-related cognitive decline: a systematic review. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2014 Jan; 1307:89-103. doi: 10.1111/nyas.12348. 2. Voss MW et al. Plasticity of brain networks in a randomized intervention trial of exercise training in older adults. Front Aging Neurosci. 2010 Aug 26;2. pii: 32. doi: 10.3389/fnagi.2010.00032.

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