Cognitive Training Basics
Cognitive training – also called brain training – involves engaging in activities designed specifically to strengthen one or more cognitive skills, the mental processes our brains use to think and learn. Some cognitive training programs focus on individual cognitive skills, while others are more comprehensive and integrated. Cognitive training programs may use computer-based exercises, physical movement, paper-and-pencil activities, manipulatives or other aids such as playing cards or a combination of multiple training approaches.
People participate in cognitive training for a variety of reasons. Cognitive training often has improvement of one’s ability to learn as its primary purpose such as programs that support cognitive development in children. Children who struggle with learning can strengthen weaker cognitive skills as well as continue to develop stronger skills in order to accelerate learning and/or make learning easier. Many cognitive training programs for children look like games and are sometimes even referred to a s cognitive games for kids, but there is a big difference between cognitive games (or brain games) and cognitive training (brain training).
Adults often participate in cognitive training in order to improve their mental acuity and their ability to manage work tasks efficiently; still other adults use cognitive training to help build cognitive reserve to maintain quality of life as they age. Cognitive training also can play a role in helping individuals of any age recover from acquired cognitive deficits, such as those from traumatic brain injury (TBI) or a stroke, or the effects of diseases or treatments, such as the cognitive effects of chemotherapy.
While cognitive training often has as its purpose improving one’s ability to learn, it is different from the learning experiences typically provided in formal education, which are not specifically designed to build learning skills. Formal education in school focuses on developing academic skills and knowledge, rather than the processes our brains use to take in, organize, store and retrieve information. Much formal education involves direct instruction, that is, a teacher explaining to a student how to do something. Cognitive skills are not amenable, generally speaking, to direct instruction, since they operate at a nonconscious level. For example, one cognitive skill often addressed in cognitive training is working memory, the ability to hold information in mind while one thinks about it. Trying to explain to someone else how to hold more information in their conscious processing is not effective but working memory can be expanded with the right kind of cognitive training. Trying to explain to someone how to processing information faster doesn’t work, but processing speed can often be improved, again with the right kind of cognitive training.
Cognitive training has a lot in common with physical training and physical exercise. In a physical training program, we build strength, speed, flexibility and stamina, all aspects of our bodies’ capacity for physical activity. In a cognitive training program, we build and strengthen the brain’s capacity for mental activity.
The science of physical training emerged from the concepts and techniques of physical therapy and continues to evolve as the science of human physical performance progresses. The science of cognitive training has evolved from therapy for various cognitive processes, such as speech and vision therapy, as well as from the research on cognitive assessment and the neuroscience of learning.
There is often confusion about the difference between cognitive training (or brain training) and brain games. The world is full of cognitive games for kids or for adults, puzzles, software and other activities that involve mental processes but that are intended mostly for entertainment. Cognitive training programs, on the other hand, are designed according to specific neuroscience principles to strengthen specific cognitive skills.
Some cognitive training programs focus on one specific skill, such as a speed of processing training program or working memory training. The most effective programs, in terms of impact, lasting effect and transfer to other activities are those that encompass a broader set of skills and address them in an integrated way.
BrainWare Learning Company Cognitive Training Solutions
Our cognitive training solutions are all built around BrainWare SAFARI cognitive training software. BrainWare SAFARI is the most researched, comprehensive, integrated cognitive training software program delivered online in the world.
1. Develops 43 cognitive skills that are necessary for learning, including the foundational cognitive skills that our brains use to take in, store, understand, categorize and retrieve information. Foundational cognitive skills include attention, visual and auditory processing, processing speed and many others. BrainWare SAFARI also works on core executive functions — such as working memory, inhibitory control and cognitive flexibility — as well as higher order executive functions such as planning, critical thinking, reasoning and logic.
2. Is based on over 4 decades of multidisciplinary clinical collaboration. The program embodies the therapeutic techniques of vision development, speech and auditory therapy, and the work of psychologist, neurologists and other learning specialists. The set of exercises they developed has been incorporated in an engaging video-game platform.
3. Is supported by published peer-reviewed research as well as numerous field studies. Significant improvements in cognitive skills have been achieved with children with a range of abilities, from very challenged to high-performing (gifted), and with college-age and older adults. Research Studies
4. Can be used in a variety of settings, including clinics and learning centers, schools, the workplace or at home. Programs to support the use of the program at home for both kids and adults have been specifically designed to deliver the same kinds of outcomes that have been achieved in professional and educational settings.
The cognitive training programs that incorporate BrainWare SAFARI and other programs help ensure meaningful and measurable outcomes by delivering on the critical success factors for effective cognitive training, adapted and refined for the way they are implemented in real life, whether the classroom, a learning center, or at home.
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