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A Cognitive Shadow is the continuance of a person to act even after it has died; a spirit that has not yet moved on.[1] It is a force of mind, holding one's spirit together, preventing it from diffusing.[2]

"Cognitive shadows are basically ghosts, which can take a lot of different forms in the cosmere, but follow general rules."

Brandon Sanderson[3]

Khriss declines to comment on whether the nature of a Cognitive Shadow is actually the soul of a person who died; she believes this to be a question for a theologian or philosopher.[4]

She does, however, explain what is happening magically:

A spirit infused with extra Investiture will often imprint upon that very power. Much as the spren of Roshar become self-aware over time because of people's focus on the Surges as being alive, this excess Investiture can attain the ability to remain sapient after being separated from its Physical form.[5]

On Threnody, the people think of these entities as ghosts, though really they are instantiations of self-aware (though, barely) Investiture.[6]

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