About cognitive treatments

Cognition-oriented treatments (COTs) are part of a broad family of non-drug treatments, that aim to improve or maintain cognition and functional independence. In these types of interventions, individuals engage in a range of tasks and activities that directly or indirectly focus on cognitive processes and functional skills. Sometimes, these interventions are quite broad and don’t necessarily target a particular cognitive ability or process. Cognitive stimulation for example, is a term used in the literature to refer to interventions that involve engagement in a range of pleasant and mentally stimulating activities, often in small groups. Activities may involve discussion of current affairs, watching and discussing a documentary, singing, writing, playing board games among many others.

Sometimes the activities are highly structured, and may involve practicing one’s ability to perform a range of tasks that place effort on certain cognitive abilities, such as memory, attention, or speed of performance. This approach is typically referred to a cognitive training (and in more popular use, brain training), and in recent years this approach has been at the center of much attention from researchers, health professionals, the media and the public.

A third class of cognitive interventions is one in which the focus is setting individual everyday goals that are important for a particular person, followed by a program of tasks and activities that aim to assist the person in improving their performance of their individual goals. This very individualised approach, usually referred to as ‘cognitive rehabilitation’ has been primarily used with people with cognitive impairments due to injury or disease.

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