WHAT IS A COGNITIVE TASK?
A COGNITIVE TASK is an activity, undertaking, or exercise that requires at least some mental effort by an individual. A cognitive task can be as small as a stimulus-response pairing that spans a few seconds or as broad as a multi-hour training mission.
A cognitive task may be narrowly defined with precise start and end times or it may be relatively open ended. The task may be externally assigned (such as a task on a test) or it may be internally generated (such as a mental rehearsal of an upcoming speech).
Each cognitive task may be treated as a whole or may be broken into its logical constituent parts. For instance, one can consider a 10-item problem solving test as a single task, or one can examine each of the items on the test as separate tasks. Tasks shorter than a few seconds or longer than a few hours may be problematic because of measurement issues.