Cognitive Domains: Processing Speed
So you’re driving briskly on a busy highway. It’s a beautiful sunny day accompanied by upbeat music playing on the car radio. You glance around at the scenic countryside while enjoying one of your favorite tunes. Then all of a sudden, a car pulls right in front of you! It’s as if it came out of nowhere. Now you’ll need to think fast. Should you hit the breaks? How much space is there in front of your car? Will that cause a problem with cars behind you? Or do you need to move quickly to another lane?
Of course there are many possible scenarios of how this situation could play out. But you can see very clearly how it’s critical to be able to examine the possibilities and determine the best outcome in the quickest amount of time possible. And this depends on your cognitive processing speed.
How Processing Speed is Defined
Processing speed can be simply understood as measuring how long it takes for your mind to complete a task.
The cognitive domain of processing speed is defined as follows by the APA Dictionary of Psychology:
“an index from more recent versions of the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale and other Wechsler tests that measures the speed of nonverbal processing.”
Processing speed is closely connected with other cognitive domains as it’s part of a larger group called executive functions.
You can read about executive functions here.
Processing Speed and Age-Related Cognitive Decline
As you age, you might not feel like you’re thinking as fast as you used to. It’s typical for older adults to take longer than younger adults when processing or responding to information. This is because processing speed is one of the cognitive functions that’s known to decrease with age. In fact, it’s used regularly in order to determine how at risk you are for cognitive decline.
Also, a slowing of processing speed can have a negative impact on other cognitive functions like memory, or decision making.
How to Improve Your Processing Speed
If you don’t think you’re thinking as fast as you’d like, then you can use Cognishape to help get your mind back in shape. We’ve designed specific tasks which assist with improving processing speed. Here’s an example of one of these tasks:
“Think of three objects in your home, that altogether equal your own weight.
Do you think you are accurate?
Now, can you think of three other objects that weigh as you do?”
This task works on your numerical processing (processing speed), spatial attention and working memory.