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What Are The Characteristics Of A Learning Disability?

The Impact of Weak Cognitive Skills On


The brain uses a foundational set of skills, called cognitive skills, to think and learn. Strong skills make learning easier. One or more weak skills, however, can impact how efficiently we grasp, process, remember and apply the things we are attempting to learn. Here’s a look at the learning process. You can see that how well our cognitive abilities work together really do determine content “sticks” and what doesn’t:

Here’s a brief description of each of the cognitive skills, as well as common learning struggles that can be experienced if that skill is weak:


Sustained attention enables you to stay focused and on task for an extended period of time. Signs that sustained attention skills may be weak include jumping from project to project, and/or always being surrounded by unfinished projects.

Attention/Divided Divided attention enables you to remember information while doing two things at once. Signs that divided attention skills may be weak include not being able to multitask, or making frequent mistakes.

Auditory Processing Auditory processing enables you to analyze, blend, and segment sounds, and is a critical skill for successful reading. Signs that auditory processing skills may be weak include having difficulties learning to read, or struggling with reading fluency or comprehension.

Visual Processing Visual processing enables you to think in visual images. Signs that visual processing skills may be weak include struggling to understand what you’ve just read, remembering what you’ve read, following directions, reading maps, doing word math problems.

Memory/Working Working memory enables you to hang on to information while you are in the process of using it. Signs that working memory skills may be weak include having to read the directions again in the middle of a project, experiencing difficulty following multi-step directions, forgetting what was just said in a conversation.

Memory/Long-Term Long-term memory enables you to hang on to, and access, stored information that was learned in the past. Signs that long-term memory skills may be weak include forgetting names, doing poorly on tests, forgetting things you used to know.

Logic & Reasoning Logic & reasoning enables you to reason, form ideas, and solve problems. Signs that logic & reasoning skills may be weak include frequently asking “What do I do next?” or saying “I don’t get this,” struggling with math, feeling stuck or overwhelmed.

Processing Speed Processing speed enables you to perform tasks quickly and accurately Signs that processing speed is weak include the ongoing feeling that tasks are more difficult for your than for other people, taking a long time to complete tasks for school or work, frequently being the last one in a group to finish something.

Strengthening Weak Skills for Improved Learning

If one or more weak skills are contributing to a learning struggle or disability, that skill can be identified, targeted with exercise, and strengthened.

This can be accomplished through one-on-one brain training, a form of cognitive training that pairs students together with their own personal brain trainers for fun, challenging mental exercises.

The first step is to identify if weak cognitive skills are, indeed, at the root of the problem. LearningRx,in Indianapolis, offers a Cognitive Assessment that measures exactly how each skill is performing, and gives you a detailed look at which skills are strong and which are weak. Then, a program is put together to target and address the weak cognitive areas specific to the student.

Learn more about Cognitive Brain Training here. If you would like to talk to me personally, please email me or call me at 317-845-1999. I would love to answer your questions.

Heather Koenig, Director


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