TRAIN YOUR BRAIN Learn Faster, Remember More, and Develop Automatic Responses Utilizing Cognitive Theory

TRAIN YOUR BRAIN: Learn Faster, Remember More, and Develop Automatic Responses Utilizing Cognitive Theory

By: Gina Gilmore

Are you able to you teach yourself? Can you train your brain to learn more effectively and most importantly to recall those items that you have learned?


You are the machine that develops learning patterns and teaches yourself the best way to learn and retain material. By starting at the beginning and mastering the primary stage of learning, you will be able to move on to the next level and eventually master the educational process. Similar to teaching your body how to run a 5K Marathon, you always start with the basics and build your learning on top of the starting point.

Cognitive Theory is the focus of the mind and how learning is accomplished not just by stimuli, but our overall mental processes. The mind itself is the focus of learning; the way we learn, our memory, our knowledge, and problem-solving skills need to be understood. We are individuals that can teach ourselves almost anything given the appropriate resources and the ability to know how we learn.

Jerome Bruner (1915 – 2016) was a pioneer of Cognitive Psychology who stated that individuals are active rather than passive in the learning process.

Robert Mills Gagné (1916 – 2002) belief was that learning is organized into a hierarchy according to the complexity presented.

Benjamin Bloom (1913 – 1999) designed what is known as Bloom’s Taxonomy which covers learning under the cognitive, affective and sensory domains.

All of these versions of Cognitivism focus on the patterns of learning and how we can apply them to ourselves. To learn more and become better at it over time, we must first recognize how we process information. We must know what it is that our brain needs to comprehend and retain the information that is being provided.

As previously mentioned, Cognitive Learning Theory is similar to training your body to be physically prepared to run a 5K Marathon. Similar to this, we can utilize this theory in our workplace. Any new employee entering an office for the first time knows that they are going to be facing exciting ways that their employer completes tasks. Knowing your learning style and adapting this during your orientation period, you are able to effectively transfer new processes to your patterns of learning and better retain them for future use. For example, if you are being trained on a physical process such as using a new copy machine, you first want to know how the machine functions. From there, you will adopt this information and correlate it to another process that you may be familiar with. The next time the machine is used, you will apply your prior knowledge and familiarity with an attempt to recreate the process that was taught. You may fail but will continue with experimentation until you have completed the task. This is all part of your Cognitive Learning.


Cognitive Learning Theory is particularly applicable within the subset of Cooperative and Collaborative Learning. Most individuals learn from watching those around them and combining this information with their prior knowledge. Additionally, individuals learn from those around them along with their prior experiences. In these circumstances, each individual brings their best skills and references to create a successful team that all contribute to one another’s learning.

Now the questions are:

  • What are the most common cognitive learning tools you use?  
  • How can we apply cognitive learning to our daily lives?
  •  Will you start to take advantage of this learning process in your daily life?


Cooper, P. A. (1993). Paradigm Shifts in Designed Instruction: From Behaviorism to
Cognitivism to Constructivism. Educational technology, 33(5), 12-19.

“Cognitive Learning Theory – A Comprehensive Guide for Learning & Development Professionals.” Soft Skills Training, 21 Mar. 2018,

Culatta, Richard. “Conditions of Learning (Robert Gagne).”, 2018,

De Vicente, Mario. “Cognitive Learning: A Complete Guide to Types of Learning.” CogniFit’s Blog, CogniFit, 28 May 2018,

Driscoll, Marcy Perkins. Psychology of Learning for Instruction. Pearson Allyn and Bacon, 2005.

Harvard Health Publishing. “Train Your Brain – Harvard Health.” Harvard Health Blog, Mar. 2018,

Howard, Jacqueline. “Do Brain-Training Exercises Really Work?” CNN, Cable News Network, 20 Oct. 2016, exercises/index.html.

Kuiper, Ruth Anne, and Daniel J. Pesut. “Promoting Cognitive and Metacognitive Reflective Reasoning Skills in Nursing Practice: Self‐Regulated Learning Theory.” The Canadian Journal of Chemical Engineering, Wiley-Blackwell, 2 Feb. 2004,

L, David. “Cognitivism.” Learning Theories, 4 Feb. 2017,

“What Is Cognitive Training?” BrainTrain, 15 Aug. 2012,



  • This was a timely post for me to review as I am currently in the process of teaching myself how to create videos for the purpose of communication and training tactics in the change management plans that I develop and execute on for project work. In this case, to learn video I am observing others – through online tutorials- and then experimenting with creating video using a “sample video” that I am building off of. I have also reached out to others at my company that I know create video content to learn from their best practices. I think this reinforces a helpful learning pattern of observing and then applying through experimentation until the desired skill level is attained.

  • I use repetition as my cognitive learning tool. As an example, with my course material I find that reading the material once gives me a general understanding of the topic, however re-reading the material help me get a more in depth understanding of what I read. I also believe that everything we do in our daily lives involves some sort of cognitive learning.

  • Alexandra Edwards

    What are the most common cognitive learning tools you use?
    I observe others and then I practice what to do, I learn better by doing. This way helps me retain the information and draws the connection from the notes to the tasks.

    How can we apply cognitive learning to our daily lives?
    I think we all apply cognitive learning in our daily lives. I have 4 children and I feel like I learn something new every day because they are learning and I try to see things through their eyes. Children learn by observing, they watch other children and then they immediately try to do the same things.

    Will you start to take advantage of this learning process in your daily life?

Please post a comment

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s