What Are Examples of Cognitive Skills?

Common examples of cognitive skills include retrieving information from memory, using logic to solve problems, communicating through language, mentally visualizing a concept and focusing attention when distractions are present. Cognitive skills allow a person to absorb and evaluate information through sensory perception and thought processes.

Cognitive skills involving attention and memory are critical foundations for learning. Coding information into short- and long-term memory allows individuals to build a store of fundamental knowledge so they can remember how to perform basic operations, such as following instructions or dialing a phone number. Attention-focusing skills are necessary to filter out distractions and prioritize received information to determine how much detail from a given sensory input is converted into memory.

In early childhood, humans heavily rely on hearing and vision skills to evaluate their environments. Babies often look around for the source of a voice and respond to visual gestures. As their cognition develops, they learn to distinguish and imitate the sounds and actions, such as speaking or playing peek-a-boo.

Logic abilities enable mature thought processes, including analysis and deductive reasoning. Developing logic allows an individual to think in abstract terms and reach conclusions and solutions by using existing knowledge to evaluate new information. Advanced thought and reasoning also help individuals ask questions, experiment with trial and error and express creativity.