Cognizance is not an act; it is not even a process. Cognizance is a specific point in time. It is the instantaneous sum of all that your senses are receiving right now: the feel of the paper (or the light of the screen if you are reading it on one), the reflection of the light (from the paper or the screen), the sounds of the room, the hardness of the surface you are sitting on and even the temperature which surrounds you — all put into one. That ‘whole’ at this ‘instant’ is what we term cognizance.
Because we do not perceive in freeze frame fashion, we tend to accept that cognizance is a moment in time, but not a singular moment. It is the time it takes to become aware of a situation. On average, this period lasts one to five seconds. In some rare instances it can take longer but generally, when it does, we transition from cognizance to awareness.