Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Icon

What are Cognitive Abilities and Skills, and How to Boost Them?

learn about cognitive abilityFirst of all, what is cog­ni­tion? Cog­ni­tion has to do with how a per­son under­stands the world and acts in it. It is the set of men­tal abil­i­ties or process­es that are part of near­ly every human action while we are awake.

Cog­ni­tive abil­i­ties are brain-based skills we need to car­ry out any task from the sim­plest to the most com­plex. They have more to do with the mech­a­nisms of how we learn, remem­ber, prob­lem-solve, and pay atten­tion, rather than with any actu­al knowl­edge. For instance, answer­ing the tele­phone involves per­cep­tion (hear­ing the ring tone), deci­sion tak­ing (answer­ing or not), motor skill (lift­ing the receiv­er), lan­guage skills (talk­ing and under­stand­ing lan­guage), social skills (inter­pret­ing tone of voice and inter­act­ing prop­er­ly with anoth­er human being).

Cog­ni­tive abil­i­ties or skills are sup­port­ed by spe­cif­ic neu­ronal net­works. For instance mem­o­ry skills rely main­ly on parts of the tem­po­ral lobes and parts of the frontal lobes (behind the fore­head).

In the table below, you can browse through the main brain func­tions involved in cog­ni­tion. You will also find brain teasers that will help you exer­cise the cog­ni­tive abil­i­ties described. I hope you enjoy it…and have fun!

COGNITIVE ABILITIES ARE BRAINS FUNCTIONS

Cog­ni­tive Ability/Brain Func­tion
Skills involved

Per­cep­tion

Recog­ni­tion and inter­pre­ta­tion of sen­so­ry stim­uli (smell, touch, hear­ing, etc.)

Brain teasers:

Atten­tion

Abil­i­ty to sus­tain con­cen­tra­tion on a par­tic­u­lar object, action, or thought, and abil­i­ty to man­age com­pet­ing demands in our envi­ron­ment.
Brain chal­lenges:

Mem­o­ry

Short-ter­m/ work­ing mem­o­ry (lim­it­ed stor­age), and Long-term mem­o­ry (unlim­it­ed stor­age).
Brain teas­er:

Motor skills

Abil­i­ty to mobi­lize our mus­cles and bod­ies, and abil­i­ty to manip­u­late objects.

Brain chal­lenges:

  • Tap your right hand on the table. At the same time, make a cir­cu­lar move­ment with  your left hand (as if you were clean­ing the table)
  • Do the same, switch­ing hands

Lan­guage

Skills allow­ing us to trans­late sounds into words and gen­er­ate ver­bal out­put.

Brain teas­er:

Visu­al and Spa­tial Pro­cess­ing

Abil­i­ty to process incom­ing visu­al stim­uli, to under­stand spa­tial rela­tion­ship between objects, and to visu­al­ize images and sce­nar­ios.

Brain teas­er:

Exec­u­tive Func­tions

Abil­i­ties that enable goal-ori­ent­ed behav­ior, such as the abil­i­ty to plan, and exe­cute a goal. These include:
Flex­i­bil­i­ty: the capac­i­ty for quick­ly switch­ing to the appro­pri­ate men­tal mode.
The­o­ry of mind: insight into oth­er people’s inner world, their plans, their likes and dis­likes.
Antic­i­pa­tion: pre­dic­tion based on pat­tern recog­ni­tion.
Prob­lem-solv­ing: defin­ing the prob­lem in the right way to then gen­er­ate solu­tions and pick the right one.
Deci­sion mak­ing: the abil­i­ty to make deci­sions based on prob­lem-solv­ing, on incom­plete infor­ma­tion and on emo­tions (ours and oth­ers’).
Work­ing Mem­o­ry: the capac­i­ty to hold and manip­u­late infor­ma­tion “on-line” in real time.
Emo­tion­al self-reg­u­la­tion: the abil­i­ty to iden­ti­fy and man­age one’s own emo­tions for good per­for­mance.
Sequenc­ing: the abil­i­ty to break down com­plex actions into man­age­able units and pri­or­i­tize them in the right order.
Inhi­bi­tion: the abil­i­ty to with­stand dis­trac­tion, and inter­nal urges.Brain teasers:

.

COGNITIVE ABILITIES ARE NOT FIXED — WE CAN IMPROVE THEM VIA LIFESTYLE AND TARGETED PRACTICE

With age, some cog­ni­tive abil­i­ties tend to decline, espe­cial­ly the so-called exec­u­tive func­tions, and those cog­ni­tive abil­i­ties that are not used reg­u­lar­ly. For­tu­nate­ly, grow­ing evi­dence shows that decline can be delayed with appro­pri­ate lifestyle options and prac­tices. Here are some resources to guide you as you look for ways to boost your cog­ni­tive func­tions:

Leave a Reply...

Loading Facebook Comments ...

10 Responses

  1. Kevin McGrew says:

    An inter­est­ing list. How­ev­er, the defin­i­tive cog­ni­tive abil­i­ties tax­on­o­my is now wide­ly con­sid­ered to be the Horn-Cat­tell Gf-Gc or Cat­tell-Horn-Catell (CHC) the­o­ry of cog­ni­tive abil­i­ties. It is a hier­ar­chi­cal tax­on­o­my of cog­ni­tive abil­i­ties that includes gen­er­al intel­li­gence (g) at the top, 8–10 broad abil­i­ties at the next stra­tum, and 50+ spe­cial­ized nar­row cog­ni­tive abil­i­ties. It is wide­ly accept­ed as the most empir­i­cal­ly sol­id psy­cho­me­t­ric for­mu­la­tion of a tax­on­o­my of human cog­ni­tive abil­i­ties. More infor­ma­tion can be found at:

    http://www.iapsych.com/CHCPP/CHCPP.html

    Updat­ed infor­ma­tion can be found at IQs Cor­ner (www.intelligencetesting.blogspot.com).

    Kevin (the web/blogmaster for these two URLs)

  2. Alvaro says:

    Thanks Kevin, we are try­ing to cre­ate a user-friend­ly list for non-experts, not rede­fine aca­d­e­m­ic cat­e­gories. Many neu­ropsy­chol­o­gists focus on oth­er dimen­sions rather than the con­struct “g”. We will review the mate­ri­als you sug­gest, and hap­py to refine as need­ed. Thanks

  3. Don says:

    Is a diag­no­sis of legal­ly blind a dimin­ish­ment of cog­ni­tive abil­i­ties?
    If so how many cog­ni­tive abil­i­ties are decreased in the absence of oth­er prob­lems?

  4. […] Author  Jona K. Ander­son-McNamee states that play should be a part of every infants life and it is the respon­si­bil­i­ty of the par­ents to incor­po­rate play into their child’s lives and they should actu­al­ly play with them. She goes on to say that play devel­ops very impor­tant social and intel­lec­tu­al skills need­ed for every kid.  Play helps a child learn social and motor skills and cog­ni­tive think­ing. […]

  5. […] board games can help kids in enhanc­ing their spa­tial rea­son­ing, and cog­ni­tive skills such as prob­lem-solv­ing. Some areas of the brain such as pre­frontal cor­tex and hip­pocam­pus are the […]

  6. […] The arts help us pay atten­tion. 8. Art nour­ish­es our emo­tion­al side. 9. The art of devel­op­ing our cog­ni­tive abil­i­ties. 10. Art can do the heal­ing and sup­port. 11. The art of teach­ing about how the sec­tion — are all […]

  7. […] direct­ly impair­ing mem­o­ry. For exam­ple, sleep may be indi­rect­ly impair­ing mem­o­ry, by impair­ing the cog­ni­tive abil­i­ties that uphold mem­o­ry (e.g. the abil­i­ty to pay atten­tion to a task) rather than mem­o­ry […]

  8. […] Mich­e­lon, P. (2006, Dec 18). What are Cog­ni­tive Abil­i­ties and Skills, and How to Boost Them. Sharp Brains. Retrieved from https://sharpbrains.com/blog/2006/12/18/what-are-cognitive-abilities/ […]

  9. […] this list as many researchers have their own ver­biage, cat­e­go­riza­tion, and per­cep­tion of the exact cog­ni­tive skills def­i­n­i­tion. How­ev­er, the list below is wide­ly agreed […]

  10. […] regard­ing the sub­ject top­ics, Assign­ment Writ­ing also assists in increas­ing the bound­aries of their cog­ni­tive abil­i­ties. Learn­ers are revealed to infor­ma­tion­al insights and sig­nif­i­cant thoughts in a com­pre­hen­sive sys­tem […]

Leave a Reply

Categories: Attention and ADD/ADHD, Cognitive Neuroscience, Health & Wellness, Peak Performance, Professional Development

Tags: , , , , , , , ,