Home page Psychology blog Child and Adolescent Behavior Intelligence Memory, Concentration, Cogitation and Imagination: Developing Cognitive Processes In Teenagers

Memory, Concentration, Cogitation and Imagination: Developing Cognitive Processes In Teenagers

29.05.2019 Author: Psychologist Pavel Khoroshutin

Teenage – between 12 and 17 – is a period of great changes for a child. Not only the body changes, but also psychological cognitive processes, necessary to handle the growing volume of information and prepare for exams. Teenager’s thinking process differs from that of a child, he/she learns to rationalize and solve complex tasks. In order to correctly build up cognitive processes, which are directly reflected by child’s advancement in school, great consideration should be paid to the development of memory, concentration, cogitation and imagination.


  1. Teenager’s concentration
  2. Teenager’s memory
  3. Teenager’s cogitation
  4. Teenager’s imagination
  5. Tests for the level of cognitive processes development
  6. Causes of problems with the development of a teenager’s cognitive processes
  7. How to develop a teenager’s memory, cogitation, concentration and imagination

Teenager’s concentration

Teenager’s concentration

Concentration is an ability of a person to focus his/her cognitive processes on a specific object in order to study it comprehensively. [1]

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 teenager’s concentration towards some type of 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 distracted constantly since the class is boring to him/her.

It is inattentiveness that often puts a brake on mental growth of a child at the age of 13 – 15 and older as well as becomes a reason for poor discipline and lack of advancement in school. However, according to the opinion of many psychologists, this problem has social nature and is not defined by any specific disorders in cognitive processes development – a child is always more attentive to those objects which are interesting to him/her. Parental task is to help a teenager develop the ability to concentrate. Teachers in school assume equally important function – the presentation of educational materials should be interesting and correspond to the age range of children.

Developing teenager’s concentration is highly critical. It teaches them to [2]:

  • 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.

Teenager’s memory

“My son is 15 years old. Back in secondary school he had problems getting good grades. Everything got even worse in high school. Main problem is that my son is bad at memorizing and processing information (primarily at 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 right after. I have to control his progress in studies constantly – reminding him to do his homework and checking it after, calling his teachers, hiring coaches. But nothing helps. Next year he will have to take Unified state exams on 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 collection, storing and retrieval of previously obtained knowledge and skills. [1]

At the age of 10 – 15 a child undergoes a serious “reconstruction” of memorizing processes. That’s where teenager’s problems with poor memory originate. Teenager has to digests a lot of information, some part of which needs to be memorized for good advancement in school and further admission to university.

A Soviet psychologist A.N. Leontyev studied the development patterns of 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 age 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 information stream and memorize only that. [3]

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’s required to reproduce it, recalls all the links.

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Because in high school many new subjects are introduced and school program per se gets more complex, 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 them of everything since it will be demotivating. Child’s memory without training will become worse, and a child will get accustomed to avoiding mental effort, because mother will surely remind of everything he/she forgot anyway.

Teenager’s cogitation

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. [1]

Formal cogitation is more developed in a teenager before the age of 10. It is a sequence of mental actions under previously defined rules. However, a bit later everything changes. The development of a child at 12 – 15 is a period of arguments, contemplations and reflections. A teenager asks parents and teachers a whole bunch of questions important to him/her, reflects and makes decisions. He/she has accumulated some life experience, which allows making certain conclusions from various situations, building plans and developing an individual mindset. At that time teenagers’ mathematical (critical) cogitation is actively developing. Children acquire the desire and the ability to dig deeper and find the truth of things, to comprehend reasons behind various concepts and facts, starting 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, classifying data.

Senior teenagers have their 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 future, look at the world around them with a broader focus. [4]

Teenager’s imagination

Teenager’s imagination

Imagination is the ability of a person to spontaneously create or intentionally build images, presentations and ideas in consciousness. [1]

Developed imagination may influence entire cognitive activity of a teenager, emotional and volitional sphere and personality itself. It is easier for some children to solve tasks by imagining complex mathematical signs, never writing down the solution process on paper. Rich imagination together with theoretical cogitation helps others develop creatively – write poems, draw, make models. Visualization can help an uptight and shy child to be more self-confident – he/she could play out a situation in mind first, and it can help him/her act decisively in future.

A child aged 12 is already able to control imagination. He/she clearly sees the difference between the imagined and real world. Teenager’s imagination is less productive than adult’s imagination; however, it is much more fertile than fantasies of a junior age child.

Despite all benefits that imagination gives, the development of imagination of a teenager at the age of 13 – 15 deserves greater attention. When a child dives into 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 cognitive processes of a teenager educators and psychologists use various games, tests and exercises. Some of them also fit for independent testing of the development of children aged 10 – 15, 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, 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, “Memory for figures” test is often used. [5]

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 after

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 from 12 years is 5 – 7.

  1. Test for concentration selectivity

In practice in order to study concentration Munsterberg’s test is often used among other tests. [5]

Show a child a card with letters written in several lines. He/she needs to find 25 coded words among this nonsense 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 coded words, the level of concentration is below average. All 25 words, found for given time, mean a good result. If there’s some time left – an excellent result.

  1. 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 test “Excluding words”. [5]

Offer a child to analyze 15 lines with words, united by common generic indicators. It is necessary to find 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 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.

  1. Test for imagination level

In general, tests for the level of imagination development are made in form of questionnaires, the goal of which are to identify creative abilities of a 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 some 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 tells about colorful dreams, which he/she sees.
  • The child vividly expresses emotions during movie watching (laughs, cries).

If the majority of answers is “yes” – the child has average or fertile imagination. If the majority of answers is “no” – the child has low level of imagination.

Causes of problems with the development of a teenager’s cognitive processes

teenager’s cognitive processes

All cognitive processes – cogitation, memory, concentration, imagination – are inseparably interconnected. A child will have good memory if he/she is attentive and can concentrate on important things. He/she will learn to think if he/she has fertile abstract imagination and skills to memorize theoretical information.

Which factors may negatively affect the development of a teenager’s cognitive processes?

  • Physical and mental overpressure.
  • Hyperexcitability of nervous system.
  • Impressionability.
  • Serious passion for something, which occupies all time and thoughts.
  • Insufficient training of cognitive processes.
  • Wrong nutrition.
  • Bad habits.

How to develop a teenager’s memory, cogitation, concentration and imagination

Many peculiarities of child’s behavior directly influencing the advancement in school, such as tardiness, absent-mindedness, hyperexcitability, may be mastered by developing main cognitive processes more.

How to develop memory of a teenager at the age of 10 – 15 and older? One of the best ways is to read more. Learning poems and narrating text fragments in own words would help a child learn how to structure information and ensure its better memorization. Children’s games for memorizing words and figures will help as well. Memory development is permanently associated with the level of concentration and the ability to focus on important things.

How to develop a teenager’s logical cogitation? Game principles may be used. These are intellectual exercises, which will teach a child to think over the tasks set, to reason things out. In order for a child to learn to express though correctly, it is necessary to develop a teenager’s abstract cogitation – offer to share his/her impression of books, relay the plot of what he/she read. You can use the following exercises, which may be presented as amusing tasks [6], as the basis for such lessons:

  • Making up sentences out of 3 – 4 words, not implicitly connected with each other.
  • Identifying common features between 2 words, not implicitly connected with each other.
  • Selecting a superfluous word from a list.
  • Finding synonyms and antonyms for a specific word.
  • Formulating definitions of various words.
  • Searching causes for some events.

Gradual sophistication of intellectual exercises will help in future develop a business mindset by a teenager. It will be easier for him/her to communicate with surrounding people and reach the set goals.

How to develop a teenager’s productive memory and imagination? Existing systems of pre-school and school teaching actually contain no special measures directed at the development of children’s imagination. And, as a rule, it rarely reaches high level. Reading interesting books and drawing will help develop productive memory. Special exercises may also be used [6]:

  • Search for associations for a certain statement.
  • Composition of associative chains.
  • Selection of comparisons.
  • Question formulating based on 2 given words.

In order for a teenager to be more attentive during classes, memorize information better and formulate thoughts properly, it could be sufficient to change a pathologic behavior pattern. The patented 7Spsy behavior modification technique is aimed at it. This technique is scientifically justified and is based upon theories of I.P. Pavlov. B.F. Skinner, A.A. Ukhtomsky and others. Sessions with psychologist facilitate changing negative mindsets into positive ones.

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Training child’s cognitive processes is an important step on the way to set goals: successful passing of exams and admission in a prestigious university. A course of behavior modification will help a teenager look at school subjects, which seem boring and uninteresting, anew. A child will gain motivation to train memory, concentration, cogitation and imagination.

Training programs differ depending on the age of a teenager: for 12 – 15 and 15 – 17 years of age. Junior teenagers are given simpler tasks, senior teenagers – more complex ones. Diagnostic tests and a set of tools are also selected with regard to age peculiarities.

The program takes 2 – 6 weeks. Course classes are conducted remotely: children do their exercises independently, with a psychologist always ready to support them by phone and e-mail, or in online chats. Communication in a comfortable environment for a child helps him or her to make a decision to develop necessary abilities without pressure. Participation in the program is fully confidential; a child won’t be required to tell teachers or friends about taking part in the program.


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  2. «Vozrastnaia psikhologiia. Detstvo, otrochestvo, iunost», 2005 g., V. S. Mukhina
  3. «Psikhicheskoe razvitie rebenka», 2001 g., A. Vallon 
  4. «Rech i myshlenie rebenka», 1994 g., Zh. Piazhe
  5. «Bolshaia entsiklopediia psikhologicheskikh testov», 2005 g., A. A. Karelin
  6. «Uprazhneniia dlia razvitiia myshleniia, voobrazheniia i pamiati shkolnikov: Uchebno-metodicheskie materialy po vozrastnoi i pedagogicheskoi psikhologii dlia studentov pedagogicheskikh otdelenii KhGU», 1992 g., E. V. Zaika