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What are the Most Common Cognitive Problems?

Tricia Christensen
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Cognition is a general concept, having to do with the way humans or other sentient beings think, concentrate upon, remember, plan, perceive, and understand. Cognitive problems, then, are any problems where any of these actions are impaired. Given the vast scope of things that involves cognition, it can thus be understood why listing the most common problems with cognition is extremely difficult. So many things can briefly or permanently impair cognition that it might be hard to judge exactly which of these things is most common. At the very least, it’s useful to discuss some of the more common cognitive issues.

Since part of cognition is “concentration,” it’s little wonder that conditions like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD/ADD) could be among the most common cognitive problems. Almost 5% of American adults suffer from this condition, and it may affect about the same percentage in school children. In classroom settings, that’s about one to two kids per class that may have ADHD. This disorder illustrates an important point regarding cognition; it is clearly not associated with intelligence, since many of these kids are very smart. Yet ADD/ADHD can have a huge effect on performance and easily convince children or adults that they are not intelligent because they must try to compete with the work of others while lacking an important cognitive skill.

Another of the problems with cognition that is discussed frequently is the damage caused by Alzheimer’s disease. The disease gradually or quickly deteriorates memory and affects other cognitive areas, too. As people hit their mid-60s, they have about a 10% chance of getting this disease, and this percentage increases with age, so that by the age of 85, there is about a 50% chance of being affected by Alzheimer’s. It is not only this disease that may affect memory; people may suffer from memory loss due to stroke, because of medications they take, and due to conditions like chemo brain, which affects people with cancer.

In fact a variety of illnesses, conditions or medications may result in cognitive problems. Women undergoing menopause, for instance, often report impaired cognition. People with mental illnesses, even when treated by medication, may have difficulty in one or more cognitive areas, and chronic stress affects ability to do things like effectively plan or remember. Those who suffer strokes may have significant impact in speech/language processing, memory, concentration, and in other areas. Insomnia and other sleep disorders play a role in creating cognitive problems like lack of concentration, reduced memory, and inability to effectively plan.

What these examples say about cognitive problems is that many people are likely to encounter them, for short or long term. Cognition at fullest capacity is a fragile thing that can easily be reduced by a wide variety of factors. More study in this area is clearly needed to understand how humans can better live with deficits in cognition or find methods for restoring function.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen , Writer
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a The Health Board contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.

Discussion Comments

By suntan12 — On Nov 23, 2010

Sunny27-I agree with you. A little girl in my daughter’s class last year was retained previously and would have a difficult time completing her class work.

Children with this condition not only suffer from poor grades because of their inability to focus, but they also tend to form poor peer relationships as well because they can not read social cues well.

A therapist can offer interpersonal cognitive problem solving techniques that will help the child slowly build better and more meaningful relationships.

The therapist might use cognitive rehearsal training techniques in order to have the child practice what they would do the next time they are faced with the challenge.

They can also perform modeling techniques in which the child and the therapist role play how the desired interaction should look like.

Problem solving in cognitive psychology is one of the most effective ways to work with cognitive disorders.

Early intervention is important so that the child’s self esteem will not suffer any more damage.

By Sunny27 — On Nov 23, 2010

GreenWeaver-I have heard of MS through Montel Williams who is suffering from the disease and is an advocate for others.

I wanted to add that people can receive cognitive problem solving skills training. For example, a therapist might ask the patient to make lists of things to do or shopping lists when they go to the store.

They also suggest that they live in an organized environment so that they will not get distracted. Keeping a calendar of reminders of special events, deadlines, or appointments also helps.

Sometimes cognitive therapy for challenging problems can offer the patient hope in dealing with their overwhelming problems. For example, children that suffer from ADHD not only suffer from cognitive issues that impair their ability to learn material taught in class, but their impulsivity also repels people which makes matters worse for the child.

By GreenWeaver — On Nov 23, 2010

Cognitive disorders can cause a myriad of problems for the person experiencing this condition. Memory lapses or trouble concentrating are all issues that require a cognitive screening test.

The diagnosis could reveal ms cognitive problems. MS is a debilitating disease that attacks the muscles and causes paralysis.

In addition, it causes problems with memory, judgment, and planning. Often the receptors in the brain that provide neurotransmissions in order to perform any basic function are altered.

Since the brain is not receiving these messages people begin to have problems with coordination as well as memory. A person with this disorder might also experience bouts with manic depression and in about 10% of the cases may develop dementia.

Tricia Christensen

Tricia Christensen


With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a The Health Board contributor, Tricia...
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