CogniFit's Science blog: Cognitive Skills – What You Need to Learn And Think Effectively

Cognitive Skills – What You Need to Learn And Think Effectively

Our brain and central nervous system provides us with the ability to control virtually every bodily function and respond to a variety of external stimuli.

A significant aspect to brain function involves cognitive abilities or cognitive skills.

Cognitive skills can be broken down into different elements. They include the following (non exhaustive list):

1. Attention skills – This cognitive skill involves those abilities which help a person to focus on information he is exposed to. It also entails processing the information and organizing it appropriately. There are three key types of attention.
a. Sustained attention – This involves the ability to stay focused on information and is related to the amount of time a person can remain focused.
b. Selective attention – This involves a person’s ability to remain focused on information despite external and non related input (ie distractions)
c. Divided attention – This is related to a person’s ability to remember information and process it while performing other tasks.

2. Memory – This is an essential cognitive skill and it impacts how we think and learn. Memory entails our ability to acquire, process, organize, store and retrieve information. It should be noted that there are two major types of memory.

a. Short Term or working memory – This type of memory relates to a person’s ability to retain information for a short period of time while he/she is performing other related tasks. A good example of this is being able to listen to a lecture at school and then make notes of what is being said. Most people cannot write as quickly as people can speak. So there needs to be a certain amount of time you can retain the information pertaining to what is being said until you can write it down. A breakdown or deficiency in short term memory can have significant impacts on learning or schoolwork for example.
b. Long Term Memory – This type of memory involves our ability to process information, organize and store it and then recall it some time in the future. This can be a few days later or many years later.

3. Logic and Reasoning – This cognitive skill involves an ability to form concepts and solve problems using seemingly unrelated or unfamiliar information. It helps us to solve a problem when we are supplied with minimal information or if we have little experience or understanding of it.

4. Auditory Processing – This skill has to do with being able to respond to sounds and derive understanding from it. It is a crucial skill when it comes to language both written and spoken.

5. Visual processing – This skill has to do with our ability to perceive and understand visual images. A good example is the ability view a symbol and know what it means. So we are able to learn what a stop sign looks like and what it means. It can also help us to find directions to a location. Processing speed relates to how quickly we are able to process new information and cognitive tasks.

Deficiencies in any one of these skills can definitely impact our ability to learn many new things. It is therefore vitally important to improve upon these skills and seek techniques and treatments if necessary.

Start assessing your cognitive health and other cognitive skills now so you better understand where you stand and what could be improved!