Pub. date: 2004 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412952576 | Print ISBN: 9780761923602 | Online ISBN: 9781412952576| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Cognitive Function and Health
Shari R. Waldstein
It is well known that neurological (brain) diseases such as Alzheimer's disease can have a devastating impact on cognitive abilities, frequently causing serious disabling mental impairment known as dementia. Recently, we have learned that medical diseases involving physiological systems other than the brain, such as the cardiovascular (heart and blood vessels), pulmonary (lungs), and hepatic (liver) systems, can also negatively impact cognitive function by exerting a variety of direct and indirect effects on the brain. Furthermore, factors that influence the development of medical diseases, such as health habits and hormones, and treatments for disease can also affect the brain and cognitive function by both direct and indirect means. Overall, it seems that healthy people tend to have better cognitive function whereas unhealthy people tend to have poorer cognitive function. What is cognitive function? It refers to one's ability to perceive, process, and respond to information and includes a variety of ...