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The brain is the most complex and vital organ in the human body. It is responsible for controlling and coordinating all of the body's functions, including movement, sensation, thought, and emotion.

When it comes to education, our brain is responsible for our ability to learn and make decisions, and how accomplished students are in different lessons often comes down to how strong (or weak) each of their cognitive functions are. 

So, what actually is a cognitive function and why are they important in learning both in school and in life? In this blog we will answer those questions and look at how strengthening a student’s cognitive areas of weakness can improve not only their academic results, but also their day-to-day life.

What are cognitive functions? 

Cognitive functions are essentially the job or role of regions or networks of regions of the brain. Cognitive functions allow individuals to acquire, process and store information, including: 

  • Perception: the process of interpreting sensory information from the environment.

  • Memory: The ability to retain and recall information, whether it be short-term memory or long-term memory. 

  • Attention: The ability to focus on specific information while disregarding distractions.

  • Reasoning: The process of drawing logical conclusions from available information.

  • Problem-solving: The process of identifying and resolving problems.

  • Decision-making: The process of choosing between different options, which allows individuals to make informed choices. 

Cognitive functions work together in a complementary manner. For example, perception and memory work together to help an individual recognize and recall familiar objects

Meanwhile, attention, reasoning, and problem-solving work together to help an individual make sense of complex information and solve problems. 

When our cognitive functions aren’t working as they should, however, all these things can feel like a challenge. Thankfully, due to our brain’s neuroplasticity, we have the ability to strengthen our cognitive functions. 

Strengthening a cognitive function can increase performance in academics, employment, sports and everyday living. 

When it comes to education, strengthening cognitive functions has a unique place in helping to overcome learning difficulties such as dyslexia, dyscalculia, dysgraphia, memory, processing speed, auditory processing, comprehension, executive functioning, working memory, non-verbal thinking and many others.

Why is it important to understand the cognitive profile of children struggling in school? 

As we have discussed in our previous blog, Learning Disability Testing: Challenges With Common Diagnostic Labels, the traditional method of helping struggling students in school is to perform a psychoeducational assessment and then label the student with a learning difficulty such as ADHD, dyscalculia or dyslexia. 

These labels may help us to better understand why a student is struggling, but they don’t explain, or help us resolve, the underlying reasons driving these behaviours. Instead, schools typically develop a program that allows them to circumvent the challenges they are facing - not overcome them.

What if we told you that by understanding the strengths and weaknesses of your student’s unique cognitive profiles, we could help your school not only better understand the learning profiles of each student, but build a cognitive program that strengthens areas of weaknesses and addresses the root cause of the problem. 

When you understand a student’s cognitive strengths and weaknesses, you can implement cognitive programming that strengthens cognitive functions such as: 

  • Motor Symbol Sequencing

  • Symbol Relations

  • Memory for Information and Instructions

  • Predictive speech

  • Broca’s Speech Pronunciation

  • Symbolic Thinking

  • Symbol Recognition

  • Lexical Memory

  • Non-Verbal Thinking

  • Quantification Sense 

Are you interested in learning more about the unique cognitive profile of your students? Learn how you can help the children in your school who are struggling with an Arrowsmith Cognitive Assessment that enables you to understand their unique learning profile and, as a result, implement a program that improves their capacity to learn. 

Learn About the Arrowsmith Cognitive Assessment

How we can better understand a cognitive profile to improve a student’s ability to learn

Cognitive functions play a crucial role in education, as they enable students to learn. Finding ways to circumvent areas of weakness only sets students up to struggle in later life. 

Instead, educators can strive to not only understand why students are struggling in certain areas of their school life, but work to overcome them. That’s why the Arrowsmith Cognitive Assessment was created. 

The Arrowsmith Cognitive Assessment measures the underlying cognitive capacities that are responsible for learning, providing the Arrowsmith team with a unique cognitive profile for each student.

The cognitive profile of an individual allows Arrowsmith to assign a performance level for each cognitive function assessed, which we rate on a 12-point scale from very severe, to average and above average. 

We call these results the Individual Learning Profile, and they outline the strengths and difficulties that an individual student is experiencing. With that information we can determine the cognitive exercises that are most important for improving student’s performance by strengthening their areas of cognitive weakness through the power of neuroplasticity and cognitive programming. 

By targeting the weak cognitive functions with a specifically designed program, we can improve a student’s capabilities by increasing the capacity of something they carry with them every day and everywhere - their brain. 

Are you interested in learning more? Book a consultation with our team today and learn how the Arrowsmith Assessment can help your school understand the unique learning profile of children who are struggling. 

Learn About the Arrowsmith Cognitive Assessment

Barbara Arrowsmith-Young
Post by Barbara Arrowsmith-Young
March 13, 2023
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.