The Most Important Information to Know About Cognitive Skills

Every human being possesses a brain that is capable of cognition. Cognitive skills are the essential core skills your brain uses to carry out any task, ranging from remembering a new word you learned in Spanish class to counting out the change in your wallet. Each set of cognitive skills plays a crucial role in your everyday functioning. However, many of us end up experiencing learning struggles. The following information about the importance of different cognitive skills, what it might look like to have a weakness in these skills, and ways to improve them might prove beneficial even to those of us who pride ourselves on being excellent learners.


Sustained attention lets you remain focused on a task for an extended period of time. If this skill is weak, it is difficult to finish tasks or complete only one task at a time. You can strengthen this skill by keeping a distraction to-do list. When you’re working on a task and something pops into your head, write it down on your to-do list. This allows you to stay focused on your task and save distractions for after the task is complete.


Divided attention helps you remember information while multi-tasking. A deficit means getting easily distracted. Meditation is helpful because allows you to draw your focus inward and tune out distractions.


Selective attention means you pay strict attention to things you have prioritized. Those with weak selective attention are easily distracted by many things at once. Practice mindfulness throughout the day, even when doing something as simple as eating. Slow your chewing and selectively pay attention to what you’re doing and how you’re doing it instead of blindly rushing through.



Working memory is part of short-term memory associated with immediate, conscious processing of linguistics and perceptions. It allows you to keep information in the forefront of your mind while using it. Weak working memory can manifest in forgetting yesterday’s events and difficulty following directions. Playing cards every day is one way to improve your working memory skills.


Long-term memory lets you recall old information. A lack in this skill includes forgetting names and information you once knew well. This can be improved through mindfulness training.

Logic and Reasoning

This enables you to solve problems and form ideas. A lack in these skills means struggling with questions of “What do I do next?” Reading books on logic or doing puzzles can improve these skills.

Visual Processing

Visual processing lets you think about images. A lack of this results in difficulty processing written materials and artworks. Even simple games like Memory can help you improve your visual processing.

Auditory Processing

Auditory processing means forming thoughts based on what you hear. Lacking this skill means struggling to read aloud or process spoken words. Playing video games like Simon can help improve auditory processing speed.

Processing Speed

This allows you to process information accurately and rapidly. A deficit here means that tasks are more difficult, and you might be the last one to finish a test or in-class assignment. This can be improved by playing board and video games where you have to make quick decisions.

There are many more ways to enhance cognitive skills, and the Internet has vast resources that can help. Counselors are also able to work with you on finding ways to improve cognitive skills that will, overall, enhance your quality of life.