What Are Examples of Cognitive Deficits?

Medically Reviewed on 1/5/2022
cognitive deficit
Examples of cognitive deficits include memory difficulties, changes in behavior, mood swings, agitation, trouble learning, and more.

Cognitive deficit refers to the impairment of many categories of cognition. Cognitive deficiency is not restricted to any one disease or condition but may be one of the symptoms of another's underlying condition. It might be a temporary condition or a permanent problem.

Examples of cognitive deficit include:

  • Difficulty remembering stuff
  • Changes in behavior
  • Difficulties with typical everyday duties
  • Trouble learning and retaining new things
  • Difficulty coming up with appropriate words
  • Trouble understanding written or spoken information
  • Difficulty distinguishing between people and locations
  • Problems with vision
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Agitation
  • Mood swings

What is a cognitive deficit?

Cognitive deficit is often known as intellectual disability or cognitive disability. It may be present from birth or may result from environmental causes such as brain damage, mental illness, or neurological abnormalities. This causes significant restrictions to the ability to learn and operate.

Cognition is the mental action or process of learning information and understanding through thinking, experience, and senses. It includes various other high intellectual functions, such as:

  • Attention
  • Memory
  • Knowledge
  • Decision-making
  • Planning
  • Reasoning
  • Judgment
  • Perception
  • Understanding
  • Language
  • Visuospatial function

What causes cognitive deficits?

Prenatal, perinatal, and postnatal factors are the most common causes of cognitive impairments.


Deficits are caused before birth due to the following:

  • Genetic problems in the fetus
  • Exposure to toxic chemicals or drugs
  • Maternal alcohol or smoking addiction
  • Infection in the mother in the prenatal period

The most common hereditary causes of cognitive deficits are Down syndrome and fragile X syndrome.


Deficits occur during the time of delivery due to the following:

  • Maternal malnutrition
  • Preterm birth
  • Reduced oxygen delivery to the brain due to prolonged labor
  • Maternal trauma


Deficits are caused after birth due to the following:

  • Trauma
  • Suffocation
  • Infections
  • Brain injury
  • Ingestion of toxins
  • Tumors or cancers
  • Degenerative diseases
  • Environmental factors

How to diagnose cognitive deficits

A psychologist can identify a cognitive deficit by conducting tests that examine the child's cognitive development.

  • Intelligence quotient (IQ) test:
    • IQ tests evaluate the following:
      • Memory
      • Language development
      • Problem-solving
      • Spatial aptitude
      • Visual-motor abilities
      • Mathematical reasoning
    • A test of intelligence does not generate a consistent result until a kid is six to eight years.
    • Cognitive tests can be given before this age, but the results should be regarded with care because the scores shift with maturity.
  • Bayley Scales of Infant and Toddler Development:
    • This test may be used to examine infant development.
  • Stanford–Binet Intelligence Scale:
    • This is a revised test of Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence and is used to measure cognitive abilities in preschoolers.
  • Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children:
    • This is the most regularly used intelligence test to measure cognitive development in school-aged children.
    • Along with cognitive testing, Vineland's Adaptive Behavior Scales assessment is conducted to measure a child’s level of independence and provides a percentile score that compares the child to other children of the same age.
  • Medical tests:
    • They include evaluation of the following:
      • Hearing
      • Vision
      • Thyroid function
      • Chromosomal analysis
  • Radiological tests:

How are cognitive deficits treated?

Treatment of cognitive deficits is dependent on the cause of the impairment. If it is the result of an illness or disease, it will most likely heal with treatment.

Curable causes of cognitive decline include:

  • Infections
  • Metabolic syndromes
  • Depression
  • Thyroid issues
  • Effects of medication

For cognitive impairments, thorough examination and management are necessary, with therapies focusing primarily on improving quality of life and limiting residual abnormalities.


The abbreviated term ADHD denotes the condition commonly known as: See Answer
Medically Reviewed on 1/5/2022
Image Source: iStock Images

Cognitive Deficits: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK559052/

Mild Cognitive Impairment: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/17990-mild-cognitive-impairment