Effective Ways to Drastically Improve your Cognitive Learning

Do you often tend to forget names of people/things when recollecting old incidents? Did you know that experiences of frequent memory loss can be the first signs of dementia? Although there’s nothing to be alarmed about, taking care of cognitive health is as essential as physical health and wellbeing. Just like many other body functions, cognitive learning also declines as we age. Cognitive learning is an essential process for overall brain function such as how well you think, learn, and remember. Unfortunately, not many people work on their cognitive learning abilities once they transition to different life stages as adults. Studies confirm that certain physical and mental activities followed by cognitive learning style stimulate brain function, leading to improved cognitive skills.

Here are some best strategies to work your way through to cognitive learning improvement.

What Is Cognitive Learning?

According to the medical dictionary, cognitive learning is concerned with intelligence and conscious thought. In other terms, cognitive learning is just how a person processes information.

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While changes in cognitive skills are regular as we grow old, you can improve your cognitive learning at different stages in life through various strategies.

Cognitive styles and learning strategies are vital factors for anyone interested in the field of individual differences, which includes:
  • Teachers
  • Educators
  • Parents
  • Knowledge workers

Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive Learning

Piaget’s theory of cognitive development emphasizes the different stages of mental growth in children. It also focuses on what kind of learning strategies can help to varying stages of cognitive development.

Piaget put forward four different stages of cognitive learning:

  • Sensorimotor
  • Preoperational
  • Concrete and
  • Formal

These have a significant impact on us as adults too.

According to a post published on Harvard Health Publishing, our normal cognitive abilities like reasoning and memory start to go down slightly as we begin to age. 

As a result, nurturing and taking good care of our cognitive learning is important because otherwise, it could manifest into brain diseases like Dementia and Alzheimer’s.

It can be scary to think that you will start losing your memory and ability to process things. However, how you work on your cognitive learning will impact how you process the skill you will need as an adult.

Cognitive vs. Behavioral Learning Patterns

Cognitive and Behavioral learning are two distinct learning processes but are two sides of the same coin.

Behavioral learning is associated with the learning patterns we cultivate through interacting with the external environment in psychology. These interactions are called conditioning that further determines our behavior.

There are two types of behavioral learning:

  • Classical Conditioning
  • Operant Conditioning

The most significant difference between cognitive and behavioral learning is the behavior is about our external behavior. In contrast, cognitive learning is more focused on internal work like decision making and improving memory power.

But, What Is Metacognitive Learning?

Simply put, metacognition is one’s ability to drive awareness of their thought patterns. In metacognitive learning, the following strategies are taken into account:

  • Generating questions
  • Planning strategy
  • Choosing consciously 
  • Setting and pursuing goals 
  • Evaluating the way of thinking and acting 
  • Problem-solving activities 
  • Journal-keeping 
  • Cooperative learning

Furthermore, a study published in the International Journal of Online and Biomedical Engineering shows that students who implemented the metacognitive strategies:

  • were able to enhance their critical thinking.
  • Accomplished challenging tasks.
  • Were more independent, self-sufficient with increased self-awareness.

What Are The Core Cognitive Skills?

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There are eight to nine core cognitive skills that require brain processing and the ability to enhance your cognitive function.

  1. Long term memory
  2. Working Memory
  3. Logic & Reasoning
  4. Auditory Processing
  5. Visual Processing
  6. Processing Speed
  7. Attention

So, how do you improve your cognitive learning?

Some ways can drastically improve your cognitive abilities that are pretty simple! So here are some tips to help you massage those cognitive learning muscles.

10 Effective Ways To Drastically Improve Your Cognitive Learning

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1. Exercise For Cognitive Learning

Unquestionably, exercise has miraculous benefits on our overall wellbeing, including cognitive learning improvement.

According to a study published in Psychology of Sports and Exercise, exercise is good for memory and thinking. In addition, some research supports that people who exercise have greater developed thinking memory parts of their brains than those that don’t.

Another research published in The Journals of Gerontology illustrates that life to moderate exercise enhances cognitive learning abilities throughout different stages of life.

It happens because the physical movement promotes circulation around your entire body, including the cognitive part of your brain.

So get yourself out there and moving. This one is a little hard to do if you don’t already exercise, but it is an important step.

If you don’t want to do it for your physical health, do it for your mental health.

2. Challenge Your Mind

In addition to exercising your body, you need to exercise your mind as well. Doing different activities that stimulate cognitive senses is one of the best courses of action to help with memory and analytical thinking skills.

For instance, playing games like Sudoku, Solitaire, and memory game are good practices. It is also suitable for your thinking to do crossword puzzles and actual puzzles.

Studies also imply that playing chess can enhance your logical thinking and make you smarter.

3. Take Up A Hobby That Requires Learning

A lifelong learning mindset can help prevent disease.

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An excellent way for cognitive learning improvement and maintain them as you grow old is by involving yourself in something where you are having fun and continuously learning.

In the United States, 801 participants without dementia participated in a study between January 1994 and July 2001.

On completion of the research study, the experts found that people engaging in activities that stimulated their cognitive brain parts had a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s.

A great extracurricular activity you could be doing is taking a cooking class. Another thing you could do is perhaps take an art class. This activity will involve learning new things and make new friends at the same time. Plus, art is always fun!

4. Read For Cognitive Learning 

Reading is one of the best ways to improve your cognitive learning.

Neuroscientists have also discovered that reading a novel can improve brain function on various levels.

One study from 2011 quotes that “Behavioral and brain studies on developing children indicate that children’s skills, measured very early in infancy, predict their later performance and learning.”

Therefore, reading is one of the finest workouts for your brain that there is.

5. Improve Your Sleep Routine

You ever notice how when you haven’t had enough sleep, and you’re really off your game? You become forgetful, can’t focus, and it’s just an all-around hazy day.

One research also signifies that people suffering from disturbed sleep every night can also potentially lead to severe cognitive and emotional problems.

According to the Sleep Foundation, sleep triggers changes in the brain that solidify memories, strengthen the connections that the communicating nerve cells have in the brain, and greatly enhance cognitive learning.

Therefore, good sleeping habits, as it turns out, are vital for cognitive growth.

6. Take A Walk Outside

It may take you by surprise, but a simple nature walk makes a huge difference in how well you improve your cognitive learning. In addition, walking also improves your working memory.

A German study found that performance on challenging memory tasks improved for participants when walking at their own pace rather than walking on a treadmill. Walking is also known to spark connections in the brain cells and improve depressive symptoms such as boredom and dread.

7. Lessen The Stress In Your Life

Stress is a slow poison that’ll kill you slowly if you don’t deal with stress in healthy ways.

There are various examples in our own life of how stress can impact our cognitive learning and thinking abilities. Stress drains you in more ways than one.

There are people whose bodies broke down because of stress. Likewise, the brain is no exception to that rule.

One study pinpoints the effects of chronic stress on cognitive function and mental health, citing that the more we stress, the more we break down our cognitive learning skills.

Therefore, removing stress from your life will improve your cognitive learning as well as your happiness.

8. Mindful Meditation To The Rescue

There are innumerable reasons we could give you why meditation is an absolute must these days.

Apart from meditation making you calm and self-aware, it also comes in handy while boosting your cognitive function.

For instance, Mindful meditation is known for improving brain function significantly.

In fact, according to the conversation website, practicing mindful meditation for just ten minutes a day improves concentration and memory. Meditating gives your mind rest, and that is important for your brain to have room for growth.

9. Foster Social Interaction

A handful of scientific studies show that whether or not social interaction helps with learning.

When kids are toddlers, they say that putting them in daycare with other kids will help them with their cognitive development. Well, the truth is pretty similar to adults.

Being around others does help us expand our knowledge and stimulate our brain cells, including our cognitive brain function.

So going out and having lunch or dinner with your friends can significantly impact your cognitive learning improvement.

10. Follow A Healthy Diet

Lastly, a healthy diet based on wholesome and nutritional food should be a prerequisite for cognitive learning improvement.

Studies signal that what you eat can affect several gut hormones entering the brain influence the way your brain processes information.

For example, a diet infused with omega-3 fats has garnered applause for its ability to support cognitive function. Foods rich in nutrients that support brain health are:

  • Fatty fishes
  • Green leafy vegetables
  • Tea and coffee
  • Walnuts

Start implementing these foods into your diet. Just eating these foods would be almost the equivalent of a brain workout. We all know that eating an entire tub of ice cream every night won’t get to achieve your goals for a healthy life.

Fun Exercises To Improve Cognition

Here are some fun exercises or ways to improve cognitive skills in your daily life.

  • Take a taste challenge
  • Draw a map from your memory
  • Do math in your head
  • Remember a bunch of phone numbers
  • Learn a foreign language
  • Solve Rubik’s cube
  • Play SuDoKu or other brain puzzles
  • Keep a journal

Cognitive Map vs. Mind Map

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1. Cognitive Mapping

Cognitive mapping is the visual representation of stored knowledge in a particular area. To simply put, it is the knowledge we use to navigate ourselves to attain a specific outcome.

For example, when you visit a friend in a different country or a city, your friend gives you the direction to their place. As a result, you paint a mental picture that helps you reach her place without any hassle.

A cognitive map is the same, referring to the mental picture we have in our mind that helps us recollect or recall information.

2. Mind Mapping

Mind mapping refers to brainstorming ideas and thoughts without giving those thoughts a proper structure. Instead, it is coming up with ideas related to one central topic.

According to research published in The Journal of Management Education, mind maps are extremely beneficial for analyzing complex problems in business strategy.

Final Thoughts

One of my favorite sayings is ‘use it or lose it.’ In other words, if you are not using your thinking skills as often as you can, they will eventually dissipate. Therefore, it’s essential to practice and utilize your cognitive abilities to improve them.

Key Takeaways On Cognitive Learning

  • Cognitive learning is a learning process associated with intelligence and conscious thought.
  • Studies show that physical and mental activities and cognitive learning styles stimulate brain function, ultimately leading to cognitive skills improvement.
  • Cognitive styles and learning strategies are for both teachers and educators interested in the field of individual differences.
  • Piaget’s theory of cognitive development focuses on what kind of learning strategies can help at different stages of cognitive development in children.
  • Moreover, cognitive learning can impact how you process the skill that you will need as an adult.
  • Various examples and strategies can help you improve your cognitive learning abilities.
  • According to the motivation grid, exercise is suitable for both memory and thinking.
  • Keep challenging your mind to improve your cognitive learning. For example, do crossword puzzles and play challenging games.
  • Additionally, walking is also known to spark connections in the brain cells as well.
  • Being around others does help us expand our knowledge and stimulate our brain cells. So do fun things with your loved ones to improve your cognitive learning example, a picnic, get-togethers, simple lunch/dinner, etc.
  • Ensure that you’re eating healthy food like green leafy vegetables, fruits, walnuts, fatty fish, etc.
  • Lastly, every time you feel stress, meditate and try to relax.

What is cognitive learning?

Cognitive learning is concerned with intelligence and conscious thought and just how a person processes information.

What are the stages of cognitive learning?

  • Sensorimotor
  • Preoperational
  • Concrete and
  • Formal

What are the examples of cognitive learning?

  • Explicit Learning
  • Implicit Learning
  • Cooperative Learning
  • Collaborative Learning
  • Emotional Learning
  • Experimental Learning
  • Receptive Learning
  • Observation Learning

What things do you do that involves your cognitive function? Do you think you’ll try any of the things listed? Leave a comment down below!

Rikki is a blogger and writer who is all about self-empowerment, positivity, and growth. She loves writing and inspiring people. She has her personal blog and YouTube channel. It's her passion to help people and Rikki loves doing it!