> Encyclopedia of the Sciences of Learning > Abilities to Learn: Cognitive Abilities
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Abilities to Learn: Cognitive Abilities


Aptitudes; Cognitive processes; Individual differences; Intellect; Traits


Cognitive abilities are aspects of mental functioning, such as memorizing and remembering; inhibiting and focusing attention; speed of information processing; and spatial and causal reasoning. Individual differences between people are measured by comparing scores on tests of these mental abilities. Tests of general intelligence, such as the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Test, are based on a broad sample of these mental ability tests, and measures of aptitudes for learning in specific instructional domains, such as mathematics, or language learning, are based on a narrower sampling of the domain-relevant abilities.

Theoretical Background

Theoretical and empirical research into the structure of memory by Hermann Ebbinghaus (1850–1909) and the functions of attention by William James (1842–1910) provided the foundations for the development of operational