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As humans we always strive to better ourselves, and the lives of our family and friends. We imagine our lives healthier, happier, more successful. So, how can we create these paths for ourselves, and importantly, how do we stay the course? 

Like many things in life, the answer is rather simple – it all starts with the small but potent director behind everything we do – our brain.

Indeed, this organ determines our every move, emotion, and thought. Its processes enable us to achieve (or not) the simplest to most complex tasks. Its condition, therefore, absolutely determines our ability to accomplish any goal we set for ourselves, big or small.

How Our Cognitive Functions Impact Performance

Whether we are performing simple tasks or complex ones, networks of cognitive functions are at play within our brain. These cognitive functions are continuously active, no matter what task we are performing - whether problem solving at work, completing an exam in school or socializing with our friends.

What’s more interesting, is that these cognitive functions operate along a continuum of capacity. From challenging to excelling, the stronger our cognitive capacity is the better we are at performing the tasks connected with these functions, while areas of cognitive weakness will significantly impact our ability to complete the task they are being used for.

When an individual has significant areas of weakness within their cognitive functions, they are typically diagnosed with a learning disability such as:

Are you interested in discovering your unique cognitive profile? Take our 30-minute cognitive profile questionnaire to start the journey of gaining a better understanding of your brain’s unique strengths and weaknesses through a cognitive lens.


Here is the Good News: We Can Improve Cognitive Function

The above learning disabilities have traditionally been believed to be lifelong. Here at Arrowsmith we know this to be false. For decades science has shown the brain to be “plastic”, that throughout our lifetime our brains change, thanks to its neuroplastic potential.

Here is the Better News:

Not only can we change our brains, but every positive improvement means life and learning become easier. Like the old adage goes, we are meant to “work smart, not hard”. A researcher who studied the effects of Arrowsmith’s neuroplastic program described it this way:

“We don’t want to always have to be doing maximal effort in our brains. It’s just like our muscles. If your brain is fit and accomplished at a task, you should be able to dial it down. And that frees your cognitive resources to do other things.”

- (Dr. Boyd, University of British Columbia).

It Doesn’t Stop There

As part of our evolved understanding of the brain and its role in learning, brain health can be strategic. That is, cognitive exercises can target specific intellectual processes, enabling us to selectively improve our brain’s capacity to function and learn.

With Exercise in Mind:

Think about the gym. Different machines are designed to improve various parts of our bodies - to sculpt our muscles, to increase speed, to increase our heart health.

Apply this to brain health – we can shape our intellectual capacity. We can sculpt underlying functions of literacy and numeracy. We can enhance capacities to communicate, problem-solve, reason, and organize ourselves. We can build emotional intelligence and resilience.

The implications of building a strong, strategic brain – at any age - are enormous, helping you to reach your career and personal goals. Consider the impact on human potential: how would society change if cognitive exercise simply became part of a healthy lifestyle, part of every schools curriculum? Or better yet, a human right?

For now, consider your own life within a framework of neuroplastic opportunity. What do you want to target and achieve?

The Possibilities of Your Brain are Endless!

Stronger problem solving, communication, critical thinking and memory. Enhanced processing speed and logical reasoning. Accelerated learning for academic and vocational skill development. Stronger emotional intelligence, a healthier self-concept. The possibilities are limited only by your imagination – and even your imagination can be strengthened!

A lawyer who strengthened her analytical power through the Symbol Relations exercise says: 


“work became fun… from drafting the affidavit to reviewing the transcript, then the brief...I was able to handle it all with ease, with clarity, and without feedback – I was able to see and fix problems on my own. In my mind, that’s the goal...”

What Would This Level of Intellectual Clarity Mean for You, for Others You Know?

At any age, we can build our brain’s capacity to think critically, collaborate empathetically, and communicate effectively and flexibly. We do not have to avoid challenges or defer to our inherited strengths. Science offers a much more promising future for our brains and ourselves.

Change is not only possible, it’s transformative. Get in touch with Arrowsmith’s team of cognitive experts today for an Arrowsmith Cognitive Assessment. We can help you understand your unique cognitive profile, and then design a program that works on specifically strengthening your cognitive weaknesses or even enhancing an area of strength. If you are looking for a program in your area, our team will be glad to help and there is a list of participating organizations here.

Learn more about the Assessment

Barbara Arrowsmith-Young
Post by Barbara Arrowsmith-Young
February 8, 2024
Barbara Arrowsmith-Young is the international best-selling author of The Woman Who Changed her Brain, and a pioneer in using neuroplasticity to change the brain, cognition, learning and social-emotional well-being of learners worldwide. Though she began life with severe learning disabilities, she built herself a better brain and developed the Arrowsmith Program, which has helped thousands to increase their capacity to learn.