Memory, Concentration, Cogitation and Imagination: Developing Cognitive Processes in Teenagers
May 29, 2019
Teenage – between 12 and 17 – is a period of significant changes for a child. Not only the body changes, but also the psychological cognitive processes necessary to handle the growing volume of information and preparation for exams. The teenager’s thinking process differs from that of a child as he/she learns to rationalize and solve complex tasks. In order to correctly build up the cognitive processes, which are directly reflected by a child’s advancement in school, great consideration should be paid to the development of memory, concentration, cogitation and imagination.
- Teenager’s concentration
- Teenager’s memory
- Teenager’s cogitation
- Teenager’s imagination
- Tests for the level of cognitive processes development
- Causes of problems with the development of a teenager’s cognitive processes
- How to develop a teenager’s memory, cogitation, concentration and imagination
Concentration is the ability of a person to focus his/her cognitive processes on a specific object in order to study it comprehensively. 
One of the main peculiarities of a child’s development at the age of 10 – 12 is that he or she, unlike younger children, can self-control concentration. Sometimes the level of a teenager’s concentration towards a particular activity can be somewhat selective. A simple example: a child is very attentive and focused when busy with a favorite hobby or playing with friends, but at school during classes he/she gets constantly distracted since the class is boring.
It is inattentiveness that often puts a brake on the mental growth of a child at the age of 13 – 15 or older as it becomes a reason for poor discipline and lack of advancement in school. However, according to the opinion of many psychologists, this problem has a social nature and is not defined by any specific disorders in cognitive process development. Certainly a child is always more attentive to those objects which are interesting to him/her. The parental task is to help a teenager to develop the ability to concentrate. Teachers in school assume an equally important function – the presentation of educational materials should be interesting and appropriately correspond to the age range of the children.
Developing a teenager’s concentration is critical. It teaches them to :
- be focused on a certain activity for a long time;
- pick out more personally relevant tasks from the to-do-list;
- carry out tasks consisting of many operations;
- rapidly switch to performing other tasks, if required by external circumstances.
“My son is 15 years old. Back in secondary school he had problems getting good grades. Everything got worse at high school. The main problem is that my son is bad at memorizing and processing information (primarily during math and physics lessons). He doesn’t like to read and has problems expressing his thoughts. Even when he learns and comprehends something, he forgets it soon after. I have to control his progress in studies constantly – reminding him to do his homework and checking it after, calling his teachers and hiring coaches. But nothing seems to help. Next year he will have to take the Unified State Exams in biology, chemistry, and Russian. However I have no idea how he is going to retain enough material on three subjects to pass them”.
– Marina, mother of Sasha, 15
Memory is a complex of cognitive abilities and higher mental functions for the collection, storing and retrieval of previously obtained knowledge and skills. 
At the age of 10 – 15 a child undergoes a serious “reconstruction” of the memorizing processes. This is where a teenager’s problems with poor memory originate. The teenager has to digest a lot of information, some of which needs to be memorized for steady advancement in school and further admission to university.
The Soviet psychologist A.N. Leontyev studied the development patterns of the main types of memory in children – involuntant and arbitrary memory. According to his opinion, the efficiency of involuntant memorizing in teenagers slows down while arbitrary memorizing grows, unlike in younger children. In other words at the ages between 10 and 15 a child is capable of controlling his/her cognitive processes. He/she learns how to pick out exactly what is needed out of the information stream and memorizes only that. 
Altogether, the development of children’s memory at the age of 10 – 12 and older comes down to the development of cogitation. For a child, the process of recalling and reproducing some or other educational material means thinking and contemplating. He/she establishes logical links between the elements of information and, when it is necessary to reproduce it, recalling all the links.
In high school many new subjects are introduced and the school program per se gets more complex, thus teenagers may begin suffering problems with memorization. It is important to train a child’s memory.
At the same time, parents should not take upon themselves to constantly remind their child of everything since it will be demotivating. A child’s memory without training will become worse, and he/she will get accustomed to avoiding mental effort, because a parent will surely remind of everything forgotten anyway.
Cogitation is a cognitive process characterized by generalized and intermediated reflection of reality. It is considered that it develops up to the highest level later than other psychical processes. 
Formal cogitation is more developed in a teenager before the age of 10. This is a sequence of mental actions under previously defined rules. However everything changes later. The development of a child at 12 – 15 is a period of arguments, contemplations, and reflections. A teenager will ask parents and teachers a whole bunch of questions important to him/her, reflect and make decisions. He/she has accumulated some life experience, which facilitates making certain conclusions from various situations, also building plans and developing an individual mindset. At this time teenagers’ mathematical (critical) cogitation is actively developing. Children acquire the desire and the ability to dig deeper to find the truth of things, to comprehend reasons behind various concepts and facts and to start to doubt many things.
Even younger teenagers learn to think logically. It is the process in which a child uses logical concepts and structures in order to solve various tasks. The goal of logical cogitation is to obtain justified conclusions based on the conditions available. Already by 13 – 15, children try to consider the tasks set in a flexible manner – by analyzing information, confronting and generalizing facts, and classifying data.
Senior teenagers have abstract cogitation and hypothetical cogitation developing. Using accumulated knowledge and intellective experience, children begin to show interest in various philosophical problems (religious, economical, political, ethical), make enthusiastic plans for the future, and begin to look at the world around them with a broader focus. 
Imagination is the ability of a person to spontaneously create or intentionally build images, presentations, and ideas in their consciousness. 
Developed imagination may influence the entire cognitive activity of a teenager, including the emotional and volitional sphere and personality itself. It is easier for some children to solve tasks by imagining complex mathematical signs and never writing down the solution process on paper. A rich imagination together with theoretical cogitation helps people develop creatively – to write poems, draw and make models. Visualization can help an uptight and shy child to be more self-confident. He/she can play out a situation in the mind first, and it can help him/her to act decisively in future.
A child aged 12 is already able to control the imagination. He/she clearly sees the difference between the imagined and real world. A teenager’s imagination is less productive than an adult’s imagination, however, it is much more fertile than the fantasies of a junior age child.
Despite all the benefits that imagination gives, the development of imagination in a teenager at the age of 13 – 15 deserves greater attention. When a child dives into his/her own feelings and intentionally downshifts from the real world into fantasies, his/her mental activity decreases.
Tests for the level of cognitive processes development
In order to diagnose the cognitive processes of a teenager, educators and psychologists use various games, tests and exercises. Some of them are also suitable for independent testing of the development of children aged 10 – 15, including their memory, concentration, cogitation, and imagination.
The results of any test do not constitute a final diagnosis. They represent a reason to pay attention to the problem and discuss it with educators and psychologists.
1. Test for short-term visual memory
In order to evaluate the development of short-term visual memory of a teenager, the “Memory for figures” test is often used. 
Prepare a timer. Show a child a card with a table of 12 double digit numbers:
He/she needs to memorize as many figures as possible in 20 seconds and reproduce them on paper in the same order as in the card.
In order to evaluate the development of teenager’s memory it is necessary to count the number of figures, which a child managed to memorize. The standard for a teenager at the age of 12 years is 5 – 7.
2. Test for concentration selectivity
In practice in order to study concentration Munsterberg’s test is often used among other tests. 
Show a child a card with letters written in several lines. He/she needs to find 25 coded words among this nonsensical conglomeration of letters. Time: 2 minutes.
m m i r r o r v t p g s o t e n u m b e r g u c t e l e p h o n e b h e z g c y p l a n f u s t u d e n t t r o c y g s
s g t k p c l i n I c g u r s e a b e s t a g e y e m t o l z e b z a m f o o t b a l l j u d g e m e n t f t u q g a h t
q f l a b o r a t o r y b o l d z s z h y e l g s q b a t t e n t i o n s o g h e y z i p d r g s h s n z d t h o u g h t
q t u n e n d s i z h q v a f i p r o l d g l a d n e s s a b f i r p l o s l d p o e t e s s a y c s i n t q p p b y n
b y e s a d n e s s v u f t i e z d l s r r p d e p u t y s a l d q h e s s g i e r n k u I f q s o p e r a t o r e k
t u u z d o r l a f i v y f b q c o n c e r t q f n y c I u v s k a p r i n d i v i d u a l z z e q e y d s s g l o d z s z y
p r d i v e r d t l z e z b q t r s z n p r k i v t r a g e d y s p d k u i f e n t h u s i a s m q f r l
c v t l z e k q f t a s e n f a c u l t y s d s n r u t t r s c t l r p e a k n l e s t f e z h z q b
e r g u y a o p r u k g v s m t r s u r g e r y t l k b s t b p l m s t q f y s m t s z a i e q y g n t z h t m
If the child does not manage to stay within the time and find all the coded words, the level of concentration is below average. All 25 words found in the given time means a good result. If there’s some time left – an excellent result.
3. Test for analytical cogitation level
In order to check the level of a 10 – 12 y.o. teenager’s analytical cogitation development, educators often use the test “Excluding words”. 
Offer a child to analyze 15 lines with words, united by common generic indicators. It is necessary to find a superfluous word from each set of words. Test time is 5 minutes.
1. Oak, tree, alder, poplar, ash.
2. Vasily, Fedor, Ivan, Petrov, Semyon
3. Milk, cheese, sour cream, meat, lapper milk.
4. Second, hour, year, evening, week.
5. Bitter, hot, sour, salt, sweet.
6. Soccer, volleyball, hockey, swimming, basketball.
7. Dark, light, blue, bright, dim.
8. Plane, steamship, equipment, train, airship.
9. Brave, courageous, resolute, evil, valiant.
10. Triangle, distance, length, square, circle.
11. Prefix, preposition, suffix, ending, root.
12. Rain, snow, precipitation, frost, hail.
13. Comma, dot, double spot, dash, conjunction.
14. Addition, multiplication, division, addend, deduction.
15. Circle, square, triangle, trapeze, rectangle.
Key: 1. Tree. 2. Petrov. 3. Meat. 4. Evening. 5. Hot. 6. Swimming. 7. Blue. 8. Equipment. 9. Evil. 10. Length. 11. Preposition. 12. Precipitation. 13. Conjunction. 14. Addend. 15. Circle.
Assess the test results to identify the level of development of the teenager’s logic and cogitation. If the child gave 10 – 15 correct answers, his/her analytical cogitation corresponds to the age standard. In case of a lower number of correct answers the level of analytical cogitation may require further development.
4. Test for imagination level
In general, tests for the level of imagination development are constructed in the form of questionnaires, the goal of which is to identify the creative abilities of the child.
Try to establish the level of a teenager’s imagination development by answering positively or negatively to a row of questions:
- The child likes drawing.
- It is hard to distract the child from a favorite activity.
- The child is constantly busy doing something.
- When the child tells a story, he/she definitely embellishes it.
- The child is active and shows initiative in school and at home.
- The child chooses clothes for himself/herself, being guided by own tastes.
- The child likes listening to music.
- The child often talks about colorful dreams, which he/she sees.
- The child vividly expresses emotions during movie watching (laughs, cries).
If most of answers are “yes” – the child has average or fertile imagination. If the majority of answers are “no” – the child has a low level of imagination.
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Internet addiction in adolescence: advice to parents
Gaming addiction in teenagers, associated with the computer or the Internet, does not always pass with age. Initially, an “escape from reality” alone is not dangerous but a serious problem can appear when a teenager begins to experience strong emotions in his/her “refuge”. These include victories in online games, establishing romantic relationships online, and creating a reputation with anonymous chat partners. Such positive bonuses of virtual life become for the teenager a ’fix’ similar to that of drugs for an addict.
The banning of computers and gadgets and the removal of accounts from social networks are the most widespread methods used by parents who are concerned about the development of the teenager’s Internet addiction. These are radical steps that usually only make the situation worse. A child deprived of online games and communication with virtual friends will respond with open or hidden aggression, which can be a serious test for relationships within the family.
Computer addiction in teenagers does not appear out of nowhere. It is often a consequence of psychological, emotional, or interpersonal problems. A combination of negative factors is also possible. In adolescents, it is better to treat internet addiction by identifying its specific causes.
It is important to help the teenager because he will not be able to escape from the virtual world alone. The best method is to have a trusting conversation with the child and establish rules for the use of gadgets and the Internet. For a teenager to get out of the influence of Internet addiction and return to real life, he/she needs an alternative, one that would compensate for personal losses. Sports and interesting hobbies will help.
When neither trusting conversations nor prohibitions “work” in the fight against the addiction, it is important to consult a psychologist. Often, it’s not only the child that needs help, but also the parents.
One effective way to get rid of teenage Internet addiction is to change the pathological behavior pattern. The patented 7Spsy behavior modification technique is geared towards this. The program is based on the scientific theories of I.P. Pavlov, B.F. Skinner, A.A.Ukhtomsky, etc. Internet addiction is treated by replacing a negative mindset with a positive one.
The child will understand that real communication is much more interesting and productive than a virtual life. The behavior modification course will help to painlessly exit from the Internet world, reestablish relationships with parents and peers, and extinguish the fear of real communication with people. The child or teenager will have the time and inner resources for study and personal development.
The program is designed to take 2-6 weeks. The classes take place remotely, which saves time. The support and help of psychologists is provided by phone, e-mail, and online chats and will help to get rid of the addiction in a comfortable mode. If the child is shy, they won’t have to discuss their problems with a psychologist, as with standard consulting. You don’t need to inform teachers about the course or tell relatives and friends about the program. The participation in the program is completely confidential.
One day your child will thank you for helping to deal with a problem that could have a negative effect upon his/her future.
Information from this website cannot be used for self-therapy and self-diagnostics.
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