Although psychologists label it ‘cognitive processing’, you and I may understand it better as ‘knowing’, including under its umbrella behaviours such as awareness, perception, reasoning and judgement.
Basically it’s what you do when you make decisions, what you do when you think things through, and of course there’s a lot of the latter that goes on if you’re going through a rough patch.
One of the fascinating things about the brain is how much energy it consumes.
Despite brains (and feel free to skip to the next paragraph if you’re just about to eat breakfast) looking pretty much like creamy grey ham when they’re dissected, they burn up a disproportionate amount of power.
In weight terms your brain is the equivalent of about a bag and a half of sugar, accounting for only around 2 per cent of your body’s mass, but it hogs a greedy 20 to 25 per cent of your energy.
It’s no wonder therefore that what you call ‘just’ sitting and thinking can actually leave you physically exhausted, and this is a reminder of the importance of topping up your reserves with sensible, healthy food even when you may think you’re not being particularly active.
You’ll make better decisions when you’re properly nourished.
Now, about that breakfast. (By the way, that MRI scan above. It’s of me.)