Very often a weakness in one of the cognitive skills prevents you from doing well in school or learning a new profession. But the cognitive abilities of the human brain, like physical fitness, can be developed and maintained throughout life.
What are cognitive skills and what do they affect
Cognitive skills are all of the brain’s abilities that it uses while working. The development of brain abilities begins as early as infancy during play and reading. But not all abilities are developed equally in all people. One person needs to read a text to absorb information, another needs to hear it, and a third can more easily comprehend a chart or table. Some people are good at math and others need to use algebra homework help because they are not able to do it by themselves. Some people can retell a text that they have read or heard once, while others have to memorize even a sentence or two. That is, failure in learning in diligent students comes primarily from poorly developed cognitive skills, not from a lack of understanding of the material.
Cognitive skills can be divided into nine main categories. Each is responsible for a different function, and each can be developed separately from the others.
This is the ability to engage in the same task for a long time without being distracted by other things and extraneous stimuli: not pulling out your smartphone at a class, not drawing instead of taking notes, or sitting down to prepare your diploma and doing only it for a couple of hours.
Allows you to focus on one task and see it through to the end. Whereas sustained attention is about taking a long time (like listening to a lecture to the end or doing all your homework), focused attention is about, for example, solving a specific example or finishing a lab work.
Conversely, it’s the ability to do several things at once. Attention spanning allows you to use your time efficiently: for example, making dinner and listening to (and memorizing) a tape recording of a lecture. Or listening to a classmate in a seminar and simultaneously preparing your presentation.
This skill is responsible for our long-term memory. Thanks to it we can memorize some facts, incidents from life for a long time and reproduce them when necessary. Some memories are stored with us since our early childhood. Thanks to our long-term memory we can prepare for exams, learn theorems, and even memorize material for a semester and then reproduce it without errors.
This is the operative version of memory. With it a person remembers complex information for a short time: for example, a phone number or a formula. They are stored in memory for a couple of minutes, during which you need to have time to use them. Operative memory serves not only to remember short things but also while talking or reading to grasp the meaning.
Logic is a thought process in which a person can conclude from the information he or she knows based on his or her experience. A person has logical thinking if he or she can prove his or her views objectively and impartially, reason out a conflict, or find a way out of an unusual problem situation.
Hearing is our ability to understand spoken language and listen to music. Many people have difficulty understanding complex word structures read aloud to them – this means that they have a reduced sense of hearing. But it is indispensable for students with modern academic standards, where almost every subject is taught as a lecture.
This, on the other hand, is the ability to properly perceive information through visual images. If you need to read a text, look at a map, or see visual illustrations on your own, then your visual perception of information is very well developed.
Information processing speed
A skill that sums up all of the above. A person perceived information by ear or through images, concentrated on the task, remembered the problem, drew their conclusions, and voiced the solution. Information processing skill is just responsible for how much time passes from the receipt of information to the reaction to it. Scientifically speaking, this is the time that passes from receiving a stimulus to reacting to it.
How to improve your brain’s cognitive abilities
Cognitive skills can be improved not only by exercise (although they play an important role as well). Abilities depend primarily on your physical and mental state.
- Stress negatively affects not only how you feel, but also your cognitive skills. To temporarily improve your brain’s cognitive abilities, a slight respite in class is usually enough. If you are studying, go out into the corridor (of course, if there is such an opportunity) and walk for one or two minutes. At home, you can do some light exercise, go to the kitchen for tea, turn on the music. It’s worth practicing meditation and breathing exercises: in the future, it will help you to calm down without a drastic change of scenery.
- A healthy lifestyle (especially the alternation of work and rest, healthy sleep, a balanced diet, and regular exercise) is especially important for mental stress. If you have a comfortable daily routine set up, you get enough sleep and feel awake, it will be much easier to cope with your studies. The good news: unlike your health or figure, changes in your cognitive abilities will be noticeable the same day you finally decide to get some sleep and stretch out in the morning. The bad news: it’s worth it to stay up at night for two days, and you definitely won’t be able to do anything useful in your classes. So to improve your memory, concentration, and attention span, you’ll still need to at least keep up with your regimen.
- Proper organization of the workplace may also help. Remove from the table everything that can distract you: phone, books, unnecessary notebooks. In class, do not put anything on the table, except a pen and a notebook. If you do the task at the computer – free the desktop, do not open social networks. It’s also worth observing your reaction to music and sound accompaniment. Some people will be distracted by it, and some more easily concentrate with the sound accompaniment in the background.
- Practice individual skills: concentrate on small things for a certain amount of time, play the text immediately after reading it. If you find it difficult to perceive information by ear, listen to audiobooks, and then write a retelling of what you hear. With time it will become much easier. To develop visual perception, you can draw pictures from memory or remember what your classmates were wearing after class.
And for training logical thinking and speed of information processing, many activities are suitable at once: crossword puzzles, chess, puzzles, solving puzzles, and board games. There are different types of puzzles: aimed at associative thinking, memory, creative solutions, reaction rate, and attentiveness. So they will probably be the most productive for the development of abilities and at the same time a pleasant pastime. Try different options, and pay attention to those games and activities that give you a hard time. This means that these are the skills that are worth working on.