Cognitive thinking refers to the use of mental activities and skills to perform tasks such as learning, reasoning, understanding, remembering, paying attention, and more.
A Picture of the Cognitive Process
The brain uses a foundational set of skills, called cognitive skills, in order to tackle and accomplish mental tasks. In fact, these are the same skills we use in school, at work, and in life in general to grasp, process, remember, and apply incoming information.
Because these skills all work together (imagine the cogs in a machine), even one weak skill can hinder the process. In fact, studies show that the majority of learning struggles are caused by one or more weak cognitive skills.
Cognitive Skills We Need to Think and Learn Well
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:
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.
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.
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 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 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.
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.
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.
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 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.
Because cognitive skills are so critical for every aspect of thinking, learning, and performing, weak skills should be addressed. If you are seeing signs—in yourself or in someone you love—that one or more cognitive skills may be weak, there’s a way you can know for sure. Cognitive testing measures exactly how each skill is performing, and gives you a detailed look at which skills are strong and which are weak.
If cognitive testing identifies one or more weak skills, cognitive training can target and strengthen those skills.
LearningRx offers a particularly effective form of cognitive training called one-on-one brain training, in which clients of all ages work one-on-one with their own personal trainer, doing fun, challenging mental exercises that target and strengthen specific skills.
If you would like to learn more about cognitive training at LearningRx, click on the links below to find a center near you and speak to someone at that center, or to stay in touch by email.
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