El uso del término «cognitivo» en la terminologýa de salud. Una controversia latente

Translated title of the contribution: The use of "cognitive" in health terminology. A latent controversy

Luis Salvador-Carulla, Francisco Aguilera

Research output: Contribution to journalShort Survey/Scientific Reportpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Background: The adjective «cognitive» has a double meaning and it is used for naming two disciplines with separate activities: Cognitive neuroscience and cognitive psychotherapy. This has an unrecognised impact on the health terminology and the classification systems. Method: The current use of this term is reviewed in a series of key dictionaries, scientific books, databases (OldMedline and PsycINFO) and specific web searchers (Google Scholar). The history of this term and its etymology is also reviewed and compared to other alternatives (i.e. noetic) as well as its use in international classifications (e.g. the International Classification of Functioning ICF). Results: The modern use of the term «cognitive» in Neurosciences can be traced back to Hebb in a 1955 one year before that recorded at official version. The different meaning of this term in psychology can be traced back to the same decade. Departing from the ICF framework of mental functions, «cognitive» can be regarded as a generic term that encompasses both neurocognitive and meta-cognitive functions and should not be used for classification purposes. A hierarchy is suggested for the use of «neurocognitive» in the classification of mental functions. Comments: The polysemic use of this name reveals a latent controversy in health sciences which has implications for its use in the international classification systems. There is an need to improve the standard definition and the semantic hierarchy of the term «cognitive», «neurocognitive» and other related terms within the context of International Health Terminology Standards Development Organisation (IHTSO).

Translated title of the contributionThe use of "cognitive" in health terminology. A latent controversy
Original languageSpanish
Pages (from-to)137-144
Number of pages8
JournalRevista De Psiquiatria Y Salud Mental
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes


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