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Cognitive dysfunction is almost ubiquitous in brain diseases. Carefully controlled experiments carried out on model organisms, and to a lesser extent, on humans consistency report that relatively discreet areas of cognition are subserved by specific neural processes. However, the clinical picture is not nearly so precise. Brain-related illnesses tend to impact a wide-array of cognitive abilities. While pharmacological agents and sleep disturbances may differentially impact specific cognitive domains, they also tend to have significant generalized effects. Similarly, although a particular gene putatively influences a cognitive ability, relatively little evidence for specificity genetic effects among cognitive domains actually exists. Thus, while the study of cognition is often fractionated into discrete loci, in this Gordon conference we focus on cognition from a holistic, interconnected perspective. By adopting a transdiagnostic and integrated approach, including basic animal, translational and clinical studies, we aim to shed light on how cognition develops and declines over the lifespan, how it is influenced by genetics genetic, the sleep-wake process, and in neuropsychiatric disorders. We purposely choose leading experts from different areas of neuroscience, human neuropsychology, epidemiology, brain imaging and genetics to speak at a single meeting in an attempt to produce a more complete understating of cognition and how it is disrupted by disease. By integrating neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative perspectives and basic, translational and clinical approaches, we believe a new understanding of the complexity and diversity of cognitive ability will emerge. This understanding could lead to novel insights for future intervention strategies, from early detection to prevention of cognitive dysfunctions. The collegial atmosphere of this meeting, with programmed discussion sessions and opportunities for informal gatherings in the afternoons and evenings, provides an avenue for scientists from different disciplines to brainstorm and promotes cross-disciplinary collaborations in the various research areas represented.