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Thought encompasses an "aim-oriented flow of ideas and associations that can lead to a reality-oriented conclusion". Although thinking is an activity of an existential value for humans, there is still no consensus as to how it is adequately defined or understood.

Because thought underlies many human actions and interactions, understanding its physical and metaphysical origins and its effects has been a longstanding goal of many academic disciplines including philosophy, linguistics, psychology, neuroscience, artificial intelligence, biology, sociology and cognitive science.

Thinking allows humans to make sense of, interpret, represent or model the world they experience, and to make predictions about that world. It is therefore helpful to an organism with needs, objectives, and desires as it makes plans or otherwise attempts to accomplish those goals.

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Attention is the cognitive process of selectively concentrating on one thing while ignoring other things. Examples include listening carefully to what someone is saying while ignoring other conversations in the room (e.g. the cocktail party problem, Cherry, 1953). Attention can also be split, as when a person drives a car and talks on a cell phone at the same time.

Attention is one of the most intensely studied topics within psychology and cognitive neuroscience. Of the many cognitive processes associated with the human mind (decision-making, memory, emotion, etc), attention is considered the most concrete because it is tied so closely to perception. As such, it is a gateway to the rest of cognition.

The most famous definition of attention was provided by one of the first major psychologists, William James:

"Everyone knows what attention is. It is the taking possession by the mind in clear and vivid form, of one out of what seem several simultaneously possible objects or trains of thought...It implies withdrawal from some things in order to deal effectively with others." (Principles of Psychology, 1890)

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Alt=A woman thinking statue
A woman thinking statue

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Frontispiece of book showing two persons in robes, one holding a geometrical diagram, the other holding a telescope.
Hevelius's Selenographia, showing Alhasen [sic] representing reason, and Galileo representing the senses.

Abū ʿAlī al-Ḥasan ibn al-Ḥasan ibn al-Haytham (Arabic : أبن الهيثم, Arabic: أبو علي، الحسن بن الحسن بن الهيثم, Latinized: Alhacen or (deprecated) Alhazen) (965 in Basrac. 1040 in Cairo) was a Muslim, scientist, polymath, mathematician, astronomer and philosopher, described in various sources as an Arab

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Topics related to Thinking

In addition to the topics below, see the List of thought processes
Awareness Attention, Automaticity, Cognition, Cognitive dissonance, Cognitive map, Concept, Concept map, Conceptual model, Consciousness, Domain knowledge, Information, Intelligence, Intuition, Knowledge, Memory suppression, Mental model, Metaknowledge, Mindfulness, Mind map, Model (abstract), Option awareness, Percept, Perception, Qualia, Selective attention, Self-awareness, Self-concept, Self-consciousness, Self-knowledge, Self-realization, Self-reflection, Sentience, Situational awareness, Subjective ideas, Understanding

Brain and brain biology Action potential, Acetylcholine, Acetylcholinesterase, Aging and memory, Albert Einstein's brain, Brain, Central nervous system (CNS), Dendrite, Dopamine, Glial cells, Human brain, Long-term potentiation, Mirror neuron, Nervous system, Neurite, Neuron, Neuroplasticity, Neuroscience, Neurotransmitter, Sensory neuroscience, Synapse, Synaptic plasticity

Creative processes Brainstorming, Creativity, Creative problem solving, Creative writing, Creative thinking, Creativity techniques, Creative Synthesis, Design thinking, Emergentism, Hypothesis, Idea, Image streaming, Imagination, Inventing, Lateral thinking, Six Thinking Hats, Speech act, Stream of consciousness

Philosophy Portal:Philosophy, Philosophy of mind, Systems philosophy, Socratic method, Dialectics, Philosophical analysis

Decision making Choice, Cybernetics, Decision[disambiguation needed], Decision making, Decision theory, Executive system, Goals and goal setting, Judgement, Planning, Rational choice theory, Speech act, Value (personal and cultural), Value judgment

Emotional intelligence Acting, Allophilia, Attitude (psychology), Curiosity, Elaboration likelihood model, Emotions, Emotion and memory, Emotional contagion, Empathy, Feelings, Mood, Motivation, Propositional attitude, Rhetoric, Self actualization, Self control, Self-esteem, Self-Determination Theory, Self motivation, Social cognition, Will, Volition (psychology)

Learning and Memory Autobiographical memory, Autodidacticism, Automaticity, Biofeedback, Cognitive dissonance, Dual-coding theory, Eidetic memory, Emotion and memory, Empiricism, False memory, Feedback, Feedback loop, Free association, Heuristics in judgment and decision making, Hyperthymesia, Hypnosis, Hypothesis, Imitation, Inquiry, Knowledge management, Language acquisition, Long-term memory, Memory and aging, Memory inhibition, Memory-prediction framework, Method of loci, Mnemonics, Neurofeedback, Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP), Observation, Part-list cueing effect, Pattern recognition, Question, Reading, Recognition, Recollection, Scientific method, Self-perception theory, Speed reading, Study Skills, Subvocalization, Transfer of learning, Transfer of training, Visual learning, Working memory

Organizational thinking (thinking by organizations) Attribution theory, Communication, Concept testing, Evaporating Cloud, Fifth discipline, Groupthink, Group synergy, Ideas bank, Interpretation, Learning organization, Metaplan, Operations research, Organizational communication, Rhetoric, Smart mob, Strategic planning, Systems thinking, Theory of Constraints, Think tank, Wisdom of crowds

Psychometrics Intelligence quotient, Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, Personality tests, Scholastic Aptitude Test

Qualities of thought Cogency, Effectiveness, Efficacy, Efficiency, Frugality, Ilities, Promptness, Prudence, Right, Soundness, Validity, Value theory, Wrong

Scholars on methods of thinking Aaron T. Beck, Edward de Bono, Tony Buzan, Noam Chomsky, Albert Ellis, Howard Gardner, Douglas Hofstadter, Marvin Minsky, Baruch Spinoza, Robert Sternberg, Fritz Zwicky.

Skepticism Cartesian doubt, Freethought, Scientific skepticism, Skepticism, Philosophical skepticism

Thinking theories Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, Santiago theory of cognition, Molecular Cellular Cognition

Thinking Abductive reasoning, Abstract thinking, Analogy, Attitude, Calculation, Categorization, Cognition, Cognitive restructuring, Cognitive space, Cognitive style, Common sense, Consciousness, Concept, Conjecture, Concrete concepts, Convergent and divergent production, Critical thinking, Deductive reasoning, Definition, Divergent thinking, Estimation, Evaluation, Explanation, Gestalt psychology, Heuristics, Historical thinking, Holistic, Hypothesis, Idea, Identification (information), Inductive reasoning, Inference, Instinct, Intelligence, Intelligence amplification, Intentionality, Introspection, Intuition (knowledge), Knowledge management, Language, Lateral thinking, Linguistics, Logic, Logical argument, Logical assertion, LogoVisual thinking, Meaning (linguistics), Meaning (non-linguistic), Meaning (semiotics), Mental calculation, Mental function, Metacognition, Mind's eye, Mindset, Multiple intelligences, Morphological analysis, Multitasking, Nonlinear, Pattern matching, Personality, Picture thinking, Prediction, Premise, Problem finding, Problem shaping, Problem solving, Proposition, Rationality, Reason, Reasoning, Reasoning event, Self-reflection, Sapience, Semantic network, Semantics, Semiosis, Semiotics, Set (psychology), Six Thinking Hats, Speech act, Somatosensory, Stream of consciousness, Syllogism, Synectics, Systems intelligence, Systems thinking, Thinkabout, Thinking, Thought act, Thinking Maps, Thinking Processes, Thought experiment, TRIZ, Visual thinking, Working memory, Writing

Thinking fallacies Cognitive bias, Cognitive distortion, Confirmation bias, Deductive fallacy, Double bind, Error, Fallacy, False dilemma, Fallacies of definition, Field restriction, Formal fallacy, Inductive fallacy, Informal fallacy, List of fallacies, Logical fallacy, Mistake, Paradox, Rhetoric, Target fixation

Thinking Barriers Mental disorder, Pseudodementia

Thinking-related fields Cognitive psychology, Cognitive science, Cognitive ergonomics, Neuroscience, Operations research, Philosophy of mind, Psychology

Thinking tools Argument map, Abstract syntax tree, Block diagram, Cognitive map, Cognitive architecture, Comparison chart, Concept map, Conceptual graph, data flow diagram, Existential graph, Flowchart, Gantt chart, Idea map, Ishikawa diagram, Mind mapping, Drawing, Diagrams, Knowledge visualization, matrices, Tables, Questions, Task analysis, Theories, Venn diagram.

Other Genius, High IQ society, Mensa, Nobel Prize, Philomath, Polymath, Pulitzer Prize


My experiences with science led me to God. They challenge science to prove the existence of God. But must we really light a candle to see the sun? – Wernher von Braun

The most essential characteristic of scientific technique is that it proceeds from experiment, not from tradition. – Bertrand Russell

Each progressive spirit is opposed by a thousand mediocre minds appointed to guard the past. – Maurice Maeterlinck

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