Cognitive Definition

Cognition refers to conscious mental activities, and include thinking, reasoning, understanding, learning, and remembering.

Cognitive skills illustrated

The brain uses foundational skills, called cognitive skills, to accomplish these activities. Working together, these skills take incoming information and move it into the bank of knowledge we use every day at school, at work, and in life.

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Each of our cognitive skills plays an important part in processing new information. That means if even one of these skills is weak, no matter what kind of information is coming our way, grasping, retaining, or using that information is impacted. In fact, most learning struggles are caused by one or more weak cognitive skills.

Cognitive skills defined

Here’s a brief description of each of the cognitive skills, as well as common struggles that can be experienced if that skill is weak:

Memory/Working
Working memory enables you to hang on to information while you are in the process of using it.
Signs that working memory skills may be weak include having to read the directions again in the middle of a project, experiencing difficulty following multi-step directions, forgetting what was just said in a conversation.

Memory/Long-Term
Long-term memory enables you to hang on to, and access, stored information that was learned in the past.
Signs that long-term memory skills may be weak include forgetting names, doing poorly on tests, forgetting things you used to know.

Attention/Sustained
Sustained attention enables you to stay focused and on task for an extended period of time.
Signs that sustained attention skills may be weak include jumping from project to project, and/or always being surrounded by unfinished projects.

Attention/Selective
Selective attention enables you to ignore distractions and stay focused on what you are doing.
Signs that selective attention skills may be weak include being easily distracted and/or jumping from task to task.

Attention/Divided
Divided attention enables you to remember information while doing two things at once.
Signs that divided attention skills may be weak include not being able to multitask, or making frequent mistakes.

Auditory Processing
Auditory processing enables you to analyze, blend, and segment sounds, and is a critical skill for successful reading.
Signs that auditory processing skills may be weak include having difficulties learning to read, or struggling with reading fluency or comprehension.

Visual Processing
Visual processing enables you to think in visual images.
Signs that visual processing skills may be weak include struggling to understand what you’ve just read, remembering what you’ve read, following directions, reading maps, doing word math problems.

Logic & Reasoning
Logic & reasoning enables you to reason, form ideas, and solve problems.
Signs that logic & reasoning skills may be weak include frequently asking “What do I do next?” or saying “I don’t get this,” struggling with math, feeling stuck or overwhelmed.

Processing Speed
Processing speed enables you to perform tasks quickly and accurately
Signs that processing speed is weak include the ongoing feeling that tasks are more difficult for your than for other people, taking a long time to complete tasks for school or work, frequently being the last one in a group to finish something.

Cognitive skills develop differently for different people, which is why people can demonstrate different levels of ability when it comes to learning and other forms of cognitive performance. Cognitive skills are not, however, set in stone, and weak cognitive skills can be strengthened through the use of intense mental exercise. One of the most effective forms of this kind of intervention is one-on-one brain training.

If you would like to know if weak cognitive are making life more difficult than it needs to be for yourself or someone you love, a one-hour Cognitive Assessment can give you the answers you need. You can schedule a Cognitive Assessment at any LearningRx Brain Training Center near you.