The human brain is truly a remarkable thing. Our brains allow us to live an amazingly complex life and achieve incredible things. As part of the body’s central nervous system, the brain can send and receive a vast amount of information. When people ask what are cognitive skills, you can tell them the basic answer is simple–they are the abilities that make our world go ‘round and make it possible for us to think, learn, and create! The complexity of the brain can puzzle even the most intelligent doctors and scientists–and there are many things you may not know about the brain that supports your life!
The brain is easily the most complicated part of the human body. Information passes between more than 100 billion neurons–also referred to as nerve cells or brain cells. Imagine…that’s nearly the number of stars in the Milky Way galaxy! Each of these neurons move information at different speeds, although researchers believe that some neurons can pass information as fast as 250 mph. Neurons are connected to others by up to 40,000 individual synapses. We owe everything we see, think, or do to the work of these neurons.
So, what is a cognitive skill? Well, there’s more than one, and as a group, these are mental skills that humans require to carry out a wide range of tasks, from the simplest action to complex thoughts. This involves the mechanisms of how humans learn, pay attention, use their memory to remember, and solve problems. In fact, one thing many people don’t know is that the human brain begins to lose some cognitive skills and memory abilities when it reaches 20 years old. Better start exercising that brain!
Chronic drinking and alcohol abuse can have profound effects on the human brain. Blurred vision, unsteady coordination, and slurred speaking are some of the noticeable signs that someone is intoxicated–but thankfully these symptoms usually recede as a person becomes sober once more. However, for those who abuse alcohol and drink often for long periods of time, evidence indicates that alcohol can leave a permanent mark on the brain. Heavy, constant drinking will make it difficult for the brain to reverse these effects once a person becomes sober again. This means that long-term drinking can result in memory issues and reduced cognitive function.
Unfortunately, life on planet earth sometimes means humans encounter things they would rather not see. Traumatic events (whether a natural disaster, car accident or physical harm) can have a significant impact on the brain’s ability to recall details. That’s why eyewitness accounts of crimes and suspects is usually only about 50 percent accurate- it’s difficult for the brain to remember descriptive details of the perpetrator in a terrifying event. In some ways, our brain tries to protect us by blocking out these details.
Brainteasers such as crosswords and sudoku have been celebrated as a great way to work out your brain. But some research points to computer and video games as a way to improve cognitive abilities. That would be handy for the more than 150 million Americans who play video games, according to a study from the Entertainment Software Association (ESA). Researchers are currently conducting more studies to determine if there is a connection between screen time and brain function.
Many people wonder what are cognitive skills and what role they play in our everyday lives. As these facts demonstrate, they make a huge difference in our lives and make it possible for humans to think, remember, adapt, and learn. Cognitive skills are the tools we need to succeed in school, work, and personal relationships, along with any other situations we encounter in life.