Part #4: the domains of the brain continued

So we’ve looked at the first four cognitive domains used to understand how we actually process information.

Looking at Literacy, Numeracy, Executive Function and Verbal Reasoning so far.

What’s next?

Some of the domains are centred around processing different types of visual information, including:

#5 Visual perception

This domain includes all visual information we process on a daily basis, which can include:

  • Hand/eye coordination
  • Visualisation of past experiences, objects or people
  • Copying information
  • Maps and orientation

Visual perception helps us to organise the information we’re seeing and interpret it accurately, which is essential for effective learning and classroom or meeting environments.

#6 Visual information processing speed

We talked about the example of visual information processing speed in Part #1 of this series.

Much like visual perception, this domain is about how we process visual information but specifically how quickly we can process it, with things like:

  • Reading or writing speed
  • Reading and taking notes at the same time
  • Listening and taking notes at the same time
  • Identifying similarities and differences between objects or people

Think of the busy environment of an airport.

You need to find where you check-in, find out which part of the airport you’re leaving from and find your gate.

But there are also lots of other people around you, lots of distractions and lots of different signposts and noticeboards to read.

This is why most of us will arrive hours and hours before our flight, giving ourselves extra time because we know that it is a particularly demanding situation and we’ve all had nightmares the night before travelling that we just missed our flight!

Some people experience difficulties with processing visual information and extra time isn’t just a nice to have but a necessity. That’s why extra time is a really important reasonable adjustment for exams.

And finally, there are some memory based domains that identify how we retain and remember certain types of information.

#7 Verbal memory

You’ll no doubt be familiar with the terms “short term memory” and “long term memory”. These are to do with how we store information in the brain.

But we actually have different domains for remembering different types of information.

Verbal memory is all to do with spoken information and remembering information we are told.

But it also includes internal spoken information, like when we read to ourselves we can hear the words in our head or the times we make a quick mental note, “Oh, I must remember to get bread and chocolate on the way home.”

#8 Non-verbal memory

The other cognitive domain for remembering information is very handily called non-verbal memory. This is everything that isn’t spoken, including:

  • Learning non-verbal cues, like body language and facial expressions
  • Recall of events or objects
  • Sense of direction and orientation
  • Understanding abstract concepts

Difficulties with non-verbal memory can lead to simple things like forgetting where your keys are to something much more complex like struggling to navigate new situations.

By measuring people’s abilities in each of these eight domains, we can build a better understanding of a person’s brain.

All of us are naturally stronger in some domains than others.

And when we struggle in a specific cognitive domain, we can often rely on our strengths in other ones to help us complete tasks that we find more challenging.

So now we can look at exactly how we measure these domains.

To talk about cognitive assessments themselves and how they work.