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What Are Cognitive Skills?

Cognitive skills are the core skills your brain uses to think, read, learn, remember, reason, and pay attention. Working together, they take incoming information and move it into the bank of knowledge you use every day at school, at work, and in life.

Thinking aka Cognitive Skills - "Brain training trains the cognitive skills the brain uses to think and learn."

Each of your 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 your way, grasping, retaining, or using that information is impacted. In fact, most learning struggles are caused by one or more weak cognitive skills.

illustration of human brain

Here's your primary cognitive skills, as well as possible struggles you may be experiencing, if that skill is weak:

  1. Attention/Sustained
    What it does: Enables you to stay focused and on task for a sustained period of time
    Common problems when this skill is weak: Lots of unfinished projects, jumping from task to task
  2. Attention/Selective
    What it does: Enables you to stay focused and on task despite distractions
    Common problems when this skill is weak: Easily distracted
  3. Attention/Divided
    What it does: Enables you to remember information while doing two things at once
    Common problems when this skill is weak: Difficulty multitasking, frequent mistakes
  4. Memory/Long-Term
    What it does: Enables you to recall information stored in the past
    Common problems when this skill is weak: Forgetting names, doing poorly on tests, forgetting things you used to know
  5. Memory/Working
    What it does: Enables you to hang on to information while in the process of using it
    Common problems when this skill is weak: Having to read the directions again in the middle of a project, difficulty following multi-step directions, forgetting what was just said in a conversation
  6. Logic & Reasoning
    What it does: Enables you to reason, form ideas, and solve problems
    Common problems when this skill is weak: Frequently asking “What do I do next?” or saying “I don’t get this,” struggling with math, feeling stuck or overwhelmed
  7. Auditory Processing
    What it does: Enables you to analyze, blend, and segment sounds
    Common problems when this skill is weak: Struggling with learning to read, reading fluency, or reading comprehension
  8. Visual Processing
    What it does: Enables you to think in visual images
    Common problems when this skill is weak: Difficulties understanding what you’ve just read, remembering what you’ve read, following directions, reading maps, doing word math problems
  9. Processing Speed
    What it does: Enables you to perform tasks quickly and accurately
    Common problems when this skill is weak: Most tasks are more difficult. Taking a long time to complete tasks for school or work, frequently being the last one in a group to finish something

001 processing difficulty child impact 860x330