Cognitive function refers to the multiple mental abilities a person may develop and keep in their lifetime, these skills include learning, thinking, processing motor movement, reasoning, and decision making. According to many theories, such as Piaget’s (1985), Bartsch & Wellman’s (1995), and Lindenberger’s (2001), development comes through these stages as they are the essential building blocks to the cognitive function of an individual. There have been studies conducted (such as Dadvand, 2015) that investigations into activities and environments that may stimulate and improve these functions at different stages of an individual’s life and how they may need to alter due to the aging of the person.
In the age range of birth to around 12 years of age, children are in what is considered to be one of the most crucial stages of cognitive development. During this time, their brains are at the most moldable and have the highest 'plastic capability' in their lives, which in turn will encourage the growth and development of their cognitive functions (Bitbrain, 2019). According to a study published in 2014 by R Noche, cognitive development is measured by the individual's perception, attention, memory, decision making, and language comprehension. During this age range of cognitive development, due to the importance of developing these skills, one may take action and encourage activities to help maximize the level the skills may reach. At the very young age of this range, 0 to 4 years of age, it's important to introduce habits and activities for the youth to continue to practice. By making sure the child is moving around and developing their own ability to move on their own, it promotes physical activity that continues into later life and helps to improve the motor functions of the individual (Zeng et al, 2017). To build the child's independence, notable activities include offering the youth choices in everyday life to help build their confidence in themself and their choices, alongside this is the option to pose comparative questions which will encourage the youth to have more structured thinking and decision making based on the facts of the choice (Admin, 2013). According to children's therapist S. Peronto in an article from 2014, presenting children with tasks such as noise identification exercises, helps to build object relation in children which then develops into higher-order thinking and problem solving later on in their lives.
In the years that an adult is developing their cognitive function, between the ages of 25 to 70 years, the main development goal is to further develop the skills they gained in childhood. as this period is about refining the skills they've already learned, this is a time to practice activities that will help to perfect the skills and improve them which can later help when they reach their elderly years. Arguably the most important task is to maintain physical fitness at this time, this allows for the individual to keep their motor skills at a high level and also establishes a good base for long-lasting physical health (Bruce et al. 2008). Adults are recorded to often reach the peak of their cognitive function in around their 30s and 40s but, it can also be as low as in their 20s, this shows the huge need to continue to build their cognitive functions for the time when their skills will be declining, meaning they can keep a significant portion of those skills (J K Hartshorne, 2015). In old age, people will often experience a decline in their memory capacity, this can be combated from as early as the adult stage by partaking in activities and brain training games that are designed to boost the memory, including card games and solving problems that require a depth of knowledge to consider and work out before answering (Metivier, 2016). The stage which adults must navigate is a balance between trying to perfect their prior skills and gain and develop as many skills as they can because they will be required to continue this in the elderly stage of their life so as not to lose their cognitive function skills.
Often the elderly years are a time when the cognitive function of an individual begins to decline, the different stages in which it declines are different varying from person to person but, they range from a low loss of function to high. On the lower end is a minor loss in tasks including the speed of processing, memory issues, and reasoning, which are all things that will most likely decline with age anyway (Hughes, 2010). In these years, it's important to practice tasks that can help to maintain these skills as they begin to be removed or slowed for an individual. Tasks that can help this are designed and encouraged to target certain elements that are a big problem for many elderly people, such as the push to participate in physical activity and exercise which will help to maintain one's fitness levels and try to reduce the loss of mobility to some extent. By staying active, it can help an elderly person to improve their balance and strength control, showing their mobility being maintained and hopefully improving over time, and it will also give the person more energy as they are able to keep that energy for longer, extending the time they can participate in more activities (Takeuchi, Taki & Kawashima 2010). Regular engagement in social activities will not only help to manage and preserve the language skills the person has built up over their lifetime and help to continue their knowledge on engagement with others but, it also helps the individual to feel more mentally well which in turn encourages them to continue doing activities that can help their cognitive function (Williams & Kemper 2010).