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El significado de las habilidades cognitivas y cómo funcionan

Por Luis16 March 2021

funciones cognitivas cerebro Pensar, aprender, recordar y prestar atención, todo es posible gracias a la cognición. Los procesos mentales de la cognición y todas las habilidades involucradas hacen posible que nuestro cerebro haga lo que hace. Sin estos procesos y habilidades, no podrías recordar ese feliz recuerdo de la infancia, no podrías viajar al trabajo y ¡ni siquiera podrías leer este texto! Pero, ¿cómo funciona esto? ¿Y cómo mejorar tus habilidades cognitivas? En este artículo, explicaremos todo lo que necesita saber sobre las habilidades cognitivas.

 

¿Qué es la cognición?

Cognitive functions are the mental processes of gathering and processing information in order to perform a task. It helps us to incorporate new knowledge and make decisions based on previously acquired knowledge.
Simply put, it involves everything that happens within your brain when you perform a task. This can be as simple as walking, or as complicated as solving a mathematical equation. The functioning of your cognition is based on its previous experiences, we’ll get back to this at “How can I improve my cognitive ability?” later in this article.
Cognitive abilities are commonly referred to as intelligence. How intelligent you are is also determined by certain factors. Some of these factors are:

  • Understanding
  • Self-awareness
  • Learning
  • Emotional knowledge & recognition
  • Planning
  • Reasoning
  • Problem-solving
  • Creativity

We define intelligence as your ability to solve problems, adapt to situations and learn from experiences. The factors that are used to determine how intelligent you are, can be subdivided into different cognitive skills.
 

What are the cognitive skills?

Within the cognitive processes, different cognitive skills are involved. Cognitive skills are the core skills your brain uses to think, learn, remember, reason and pay attention. These cognitive skills play a huge role in performing both big and complicated task as well as smaller and easier tasks such as reading. Although they are often explained as separate subjects, they are always interrelated. During some of the cognitive processes, cognitive skills might even overlap with each other. Such as when you are studying from a book, you need both your attention to stay focused and your memory to remember what you've just read. Without either one, you wouldn’t be able to read at all or you would simply forget what you’ve read.
The main cognitive skills include:
 

Memory

memoria de habilidades cognitivas Tu memoria juega un papel en todos los procesos cognitivos. Te permite recordar todo tipo de información, como recuerdos, conocimiento común, etc. Tu memoria es capaz de almacenar esta información desde un par de segundos hasta toda la vida.
Piense en una vida sin su memoria, sin la capacidad de recordar. No sería capaz de recordar a las personas que le rodean, no recordaría los recuerdos de su infancia y ni siquiera sabría cómo caminar, hablar, comer, etc.
El deterioro cognitivo puede ser causado por enfermedades mentales como la demencia. Las personas que sufren de demencia pierden lentamente la capacidad de recordar cosas nuevas o incluso recordar recuerdos más antiguos.

atención de habilidades cognitivas Atención

Attention is the ability to choose and focus on relevant stimuli. It is a selection process for both external stimuli such as sound, smell, feeling etc. And internal stimuli such as your thoughts.  Focusing helps you to ignore irrelevant stimuli when performing everyday tasks. To give a clear example, think of the situation where you are reading a book on the bus. Without attention, this wouldn’t be possible. You wouldn’t only lack the focus to actually read, but your brain would try to process all stimuli at the same time. Such as people talking, the sound of the bus, different kind of smells or even the light of the sun.  Focusing is particularly hard for people with attention problems such as ADHD.

 

Perception

percepción de habilidades cognitivasYour perception is the process of capturing, processing and making sense of the stimuli that your senses receive. This includes seeing, hearing, feeling, smelling and tasting. How you perceive this information depends on how you interpret the different stimuli. 

As you can probably image, you can’t do without your perception. Without perception, you wouldn’t be able to interpret different stimuli. There isn’t a thing you can do without seeing, hearing, feeling, smelling and tasting. However, it is often seen that people who lack one sense, such as blind people, develop a stronger perception of their other senses to compensate. People that suffer from sense disruptions such as tinnitus have a harder time to perceive information from other senses as they are being distracted by the incorrect perception of one sense.
 

habilidad cognitiva pensamiento lógicoLogical thinking

Logical thinking is the process of consistent reasoning to come to a conclusion. During this process, you use a rational and systematic series of steps to come to a conclusion. Structure, concluding relationships between facts and reasoning are an important aspect of logical thinking.

Let’s take the relationships between facts as an example of the importance of logical thinking. The last time it rained and you went out without an umbrella, you got wet. So, when you go out in the rain without an umbrella (fact 1) you will get wet (fact 2). This obvious example is one of many of moments you use logical thinking without actually being aware of it. The ability to form logical connections between information that isn’t obviously related is also what separates our way of thinking from binary systems such as computers.
 

Velocidad de pensamiento

habilidad cognitiva velocidad de pensamiento La velocidad del pensamiento , o la velocidad de procesamiento, es la velocidad a la que puede absorber nueva información, evaluar la información y formular una respuesta a esa información. En pocas palabras, es el tiempo entre recibir y responder a un estímulo.
La velocidad de pensamiento rápido podría ser realmente útil y hacer la vida más fácil. Tome la cola en una tienda, por ejemplo. Estás en la cola con tus compras en tu canasta. Pero de repente no está seguro de tener suficiente dinero en efectivo para pagar los alimentos. Si eres lo suficientemente rápido, puedes calcular el costo de los comestibles mientras aún estás en la cola.
 

El proceso cognitivo y las habilidades involucradas

Como ya se mencionó, el proceso mental que llamamos funcionamiento cognitivo toma decisiones basadas en conocimientos previamente adquiridos. No podrías hacer ni saber nada que no hayas aprendido antes. Esto adquiere conocimientos y las experiencias de aprendizaje previas se almacenan en la memoria. Cuando alguien que no conoces se presenta, aprenderás su nombre. Este nombre se almacenará en la memoria hasta que lo olvide más tarde.

Durante el día, recibes todo tipo de estímulos a través de tus sentidos. Utiliza su atención para concentrarse en los estímulos relevantes mientras ignora los estímulos irrelevantes. Todos estos estímulos pasan por tu memoria a la parte de tu cerebro que se encarga del pensamiento lógico y de tu velocidad de pensamiento. Tal vez haya recibido exactamente los mismos estímulos antes y su cerebro los almacenó en su memoria. O su cerebro puede hacer una conexión entre los nuevos estímulos y algo que ya está almacenado en la memoria. Su reacción a estos estímulos podría verse afectada por esto.
Por ejemplo, una vez se lastimó al tropezar con el dedo del pie en la esquina de una mesa. La próxima vez que pase por la misma mesa, existe la posibilidad de que recuerde haber tropezado con el dedo del pie allí. Debido a esto, su próxima reacción a esa mesa será caminar un poco más alrededor de ella.
La siguiente imagen visualiza el proceso que acabamos de explicar. Esto nuevamente muestra que las habilidades cognitivas que usa durante el funcionamiento cognitivo general pueden cooperar o incluso superponerse entre sí.  
 

procesar habilidades cognitivas

 

Un ejemplo de las habilidades cognitivas en la práctica

Volvamos al ejemplo anterior en el que nos hemos tropezado y analicemos los pasos que suceden dentro del proceso cognitivo. Al principio, sus sentidos adquieren toda la información sobre su entorno que pertenece a su percepción . Para evitar una sobrecarga de información, su cerebro filtra todos los estímulos irrelevantes y se enfoca en lo que es importante.
Entonces es el momento para el recuerdo de la memoria porque si no quieres que te lastimen de nuevo, necesitarás recordar cómo te lastimaste la última vez. El momento anterior en el que te lastimaste en esa mesa está almacenado en tu memoria.
La combinación de los estímulos filtrados que recibieron tus sentidos y el recuerdo de la vez anterior que pasaste por esa mesa pasará a la fase de toma de decisiones. Al pensar lo suficientemente rápido y lógico, su cerebro envía un mensaje de que necesita hacer algo diferente esta vez. Lo que resulta en mantener un poco más de distancia de la mesa al pasar junto a ella.
 

Nivel de habilidad cognitiva

The level of each of your cognitive skills can vary. Depending upon the extent to which a skill is practised, learning methods, ways to remember things and the way you interpret stimuli to affect the level of each skill.
Let’s say one person has been working in catering, requiring quick reactions that are relatively simple. This person would be mostly developed in thinking speed. However, an architect would be more developed in logical thinking as that person would generally be working with more complex situations that come with less time pressure.
The development of cognitive skills starts in early childhood. Although most cognitive skill development occurs during early childhood, the development continues for a big part of your life.  This can be explained by children still needing to learn a lot because you wouldn’t be able to know or do anything you haven’t learned yet. While adults have had a lot more experiences that resulted in their brain adapting and thus reaching a certain cognitive skill level.
At the same time, a lot of factors can negatively impact the cognitive functioning of your brain through life.
 

What causes cognitive decline?

declinar las habilidades cognitivasThe level at which your cognitive skills perform can be both positively and negatively impacted by lots of factors. Although you may not have control over all of these factors, there are some factors that you can influence in a positive way. Some examples of causes of cognitive decline are:

  • Aging
  • Head injury
  • Mental illnesses such as dementia
  • Deficiencies in vitamins and other key nutrients
  • Psychiatric illness
  • Alcohol or drug abuse

The degree to which the examples above impact cognitive decline is very specific to each individual situation. Some people experience cognitive decline as they grow older, while other people will still experience the same strength of their cognitive skills as much as they used to in their 20’s.
 

How can I improve my cognitive ability?mejorar la capacidad cognitiva

Cognitive skill levels vary per person, this is a result of the brain adapting itself to the stimuli it gets during life and external factors as mentioned above. Many researches have shown that the brain has the ability to change during your entire life, growing new cells and making new connections. These changes are called neuroplasticity and can improve cognitive functioning. You can compare this with how we are able to train our muscles. While part of how your body works is genetic, running a marathon is much more likely to happen after weeks of training. Training your brain is very similar, when you stimulate it properly, it’ll grow used to certain skills being used more often and thereby developing them further. You can do this by practising, exploring and learning new things. Someone who finishes a Sudoku every day becomes more skilled in finishing Sudoku puzzles.
Whether you’re starting to get more forgetful or it’s getting harder and harder for you to stay focused, challenging your brain with related tasks can improve your cognitive functions to grow stronger for similar tasks.
 

Conclusion

So next time you are thinking about an old memory, working or just reading in a bus, you might be aware of the processes in your brain that make this possible. Even as you were reading this article, your memory, attention, perception, logical thinking and thinking speed have all been used to read and process the information. Although there are both internal and external factors that might affect your cognitive skill level, you can improve your cognitive ability by challenging your brain.