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Are you, or your child, struggling with tasks at school, work or in life in general? Deficits in any of the cognitive functions required to conduct a task can put a significant strain on the brain.

Overtaxing the brain’s capacity causes mental fatigue and loss of focus, along with other presentations commonly attributed to ADHD and attention difficulties

In addition, a weakness in the right or left prefrontal cortex of the brain can also negatively impact attention. These areas are involved in executive functioning and in non-verbal communication. 

A critical role of these areas is to regulate and sustain attention on the task at hand during problem-solving. When these areas of the brain are not performing as expected, attention difficulties will arise. 

But don’t worry, we have a solution! In this blog, we take a deeper look at how weakened cognitive functioning impacts attention and how the Arrowsmith Program uses neuroplasticity and cognitive exercises to strengthen the brain. 

If you would like to explore this subject in more detail, check out our free on-demand webinar, “Unleashing Potential: Mastering Focus and Attention”, the first in our six-part series looking at how the brain can be strengthened for success in the classroom, workplace, and life. 

The Impact of Cognitive Functions on Performance 

If we think about our own learning process, we can all identify areas where we excel and others that we tend to avoid. Perhaps you don’t have good spatial awareness, or maybe you find it difficult to pick up on social cues in certain interactions. 

Underpinning these abilities is what we call our unique cognitive profile of strengths and weaknesses. Every individual has a unique cognitive profile, and it shapes how we interact with the world, how we see ourselves, and how we view others around us.

In some situations, we can work around our challenges by utilizing our strengths, reducing the negative impact on our lives. When there is a cognitive load, however, that’s when a learning difficulty occurs. A cognitive load is when a significant number of cognitive difficulties come together to make certain aspects of learning challenging. 

When this cognitive load occurs, learning difficulties follow - such as attention difficulties.

Interested in finding out your child’s, or your own, cognitive profile? Complete the Arrowsmith Cognitive Questionnaire.

Discover Your Cognitive Profile

How Attention Difficulties Affect Us in School, Work and Life

If you are a parent of a child struggling in school, you're all too aware of their difficulties in meeting the demands of school life. Here are some common attention difficulties in the classroom that may be reflected in report cards and communication from classroom teachers:

  • inconsistent academic performance
  • incomplete assignments/homework or missed deadlines
  • struggle to stay engaged in activities and discussions
  • disruptive behaviour and difficulty following rules
  • poor attention to detail
  • described as inattentive, hyperactive or easily distracted 

Of course, the struggle to acquire skills efficiently continues to impact one's experiences well beyond school. Cognitive deficits that are left unaddressed also lead to challenges in the workplace. 

Attention difficulties in the workplace often present as: 

  • time management challenges - difficulties in prioritizing tasks, meeting deadlines and managing workload
  • being easily distracted and overwhelmed
  • struggling to read long emails or documents
  • difficulty staying focus in conversations and meetings
  • challenges with attention to detail
  • unable to benefit from constructive feedback

ADHD impacts how we handle the tasks at hand and how we experience, or manage, the cognitive demands in certain situations. That’s why attention difficulties impact our lives in general, and not just at school or in the workplace. 

Attention difficulties may impact life in these ways: 

  • struggle to establish and follow self-care routines and personal organization
  • have a hard time initiating a task and carrying it through to completion
  • unable to create, plan or make steps toward long-term goals
  • struggling to maintain jobs and relationships
  • feeling stuck and unable to see past the roadblock ahead
  • overwhelmed when making small and large decisions

How Arrowsmith Can Help Address Attentional Difficulties

At Arrowsmith, our vision is to contribute to a better world by strengthening our most valuable asset, one that we all possess - our  brain. By doing so, not only can we enhance the lives of individuals, and those supporting them, but we can achieve a broad and positive impact on our world. 

“The fact that Arrowsmith trains the brain processors that make possible reasoning and rationality, is arguably one of the most important positive developments one could imagine for our world, with its complex problems.” ~ Norman Doidge, Author of The Brain that Changes Itself

The source of the majority of these attentional difficulties that interfere with success in school, work and life lie in underperforming cognitive functions that can be addressed through the power of neuroplasticity and specialized, targeted cognitive programming.

There are five key ingredients to the Arrowsmith approach:

  1. Differentiated stimulation: We isolate the underperforming cognitive function by introducing an exercise designed to strengthen it.
  2. Attention: To achieve neuroplasticity and strengthen these cognitive functions, individuals must engage in the cognitive exercise.
  3. Sustained engagement: Exercise must be performed for a sustained period of time, such as a 40-minute period.
  4. Effortful processing: Using effortful processing, we slowly increase the cognitive capacity by increasing the challenge.
  5. Novelty and complexity: To continuously strengthen cognitive functions through neuroplasticity, tasks must involve new learning with an appropriate level of complexity.

You can learn more on our blog, 5 Key Principles of Neuroplasticity.

Through these five principles, Arrowsmith harnesses neuroplasticity to strengthen the brain and help individuals overcome ADHD, attention difficulties and other learning challenges.

Through engagement in the Arrowsmith Program, individuals are able to:

  • set and accomplish goals
  • complete assignments on time
  • manage workload
  • engage meaningfully in activities and discussions
  • meet expectations and follow rules
  • focus and attend to the task at hand
  • attend to detail
  • establish routines and remain organized
  • read and comprehend text
  • develop and maintain relationships
  • approach life with a growth mindset

Interested in learning more? Get in touch with Arrowsmith today, or watch our on-demand webinar on the subject, “Unleashing Potential: Mastering Focus and Attention”.



Shelley Woon
Post by Shelley Woon
August 18, 2023
Shelley, a passionate educator, brings a solution focused and collaborative perspective to each situation which is informed by her 30+ years of engaging with students, families and community partners. She values the brain-learning connection and is eager to assist others in developing an understanding of a neuroplastic approach in unlocking potential, particularly for those struggling with learning difficulties. She is thrilled to be an integral part of the dynamic and innovative Arrowsmith community. She holds a Master of Education in Leadership, and Supervisory Officer and Principal qualifications, along with Specialists in Special Education and Reading.