Define Cognitive Thinking

Define Cognitive Thinking

Define Cognitive Thinking

Define Cognitive Thinking — Necessary Skills

5. Which cognitive skills are most important for success?

Since the brain is such a sophisticated organ, learning is a complex process. Many interrelated cognitive skills contribute to academic and occupational success. Broadly categorized, these critical skills include:

  • Attention
  • Working Memory
  • Processing Speed
  • Long-Term Memory
  • Visual Processing
  • Auditory Processing
  • Logic and Reasoning

These skills are interdependent. Often they overlap in their work with other skills, as all the bits of information entering the mind are processed and acted upon.

Define Cognitive Thinking — The Connection to Learning
The detailed list that follows shows how each skill connects to the learning task it enables. The strength or weakness of one skill impacts the general effectiveness of other skills.

Read through this list carefully. You will see how each skill makes a contribution and needs to function well for overall learning to be easy, fast, and successful. You will also realize why the causes of both learning success and learning difficulty are not as much of a mystery as they may seem.


  • Sustained Attention enables you to stay on task for a period of time.
  • Selective Attention enables you to stay on task even when a distraction is present.
  • Divided Attention allows you to handle two or more tasks at one time.

What to watch for: The inability to stay on task for long periods of time, to ignore distractions, or to multi-task will limit the student’s other cognitive skills—which will impact all academic areas.

Working memory

  • Working Memory is the ability to retain information for short periods of time while processing or using it.

What to watch for: Learning suffers if information cannot be retained long enough to handle it properly.

Processing speed

  • Processing Speed is the rate at which the brain handles information.

What to watch for: If processing speed is slow, the information held in working memory may be lost before it can be used, and the student will have to begin again.

Long-Term memory

  • Long-Term Memory is the ability to both store and recall information for later use.

What to watch for: If the ability to store and retrieve information is poor, wrong conclusions and wrong answers will result.

Visual Processing

  • Visual Processing is the ability to perceive, analyze, and think in visual images.
  • Visual Discrimination is seeing differences in size, color, shape, distance, and the orientation of objects.
  • Visualization is creating mental images.

What to watch for: When visual imagery is poor, tasks like math word problems and comprehension, which require seeing the concept/ object in the student’s mind, are difficult.

Auditory Processing

  • Auditory Processing is the ability to perceive, analyze, and conceptualize what is heard and is one of the major underlying skills needed to learn to read and spell.
  • Auditory Discrimination is hearing differences in sounds, including volume, pitch, duration, and phoneme.
  • Phonemic Awareness is the ability to blend sounds to make words, to segment sounds, to break words apart into separate sounds, and to manipulate and analyze sounds to determine the number, sequence, and sounds within a word.

What to watch for: If blending, segmenting, and sound analysis are weak, sounding out words when reading and spelling will be difficult and error-prone.

Logic and reasoning

  • Logic and Reasoning skills are the abilities to reason, prioritize, and plan.

What to watch for: If these skills are not strong, academic activities such as problem solving, math, and comprehension will be difficult.

Keep Reading!

Brain Development – Return to Topic List

Excerpts of the book Unlock the Enstein Inside by Dr. Ken Gibson

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