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Reasoning is the cognitive ability that allows us to notice similarities and relationships across contexts. Relational reasoning, or the ability to see connections between multiple concepts, is an important part of this process and is essential to successful Problem Solving.

Main Ideas:

Reasoning can help us to think abstractly about language and verbal concepts as well as non-verbal concepts, such as patterns.

  • Verbal Reasoning, or analogical reasoning, is the ability to perceive similarities between two ideas or events and apply them in new contexts. For example, describing a place as "a zoo" to express how busy and crowded it is. This also requires the ability to ignore irrelevant information (e.g., the literal animals that make up a zoo) and focus on the key shared structures and relationships (e.g., the busy environment) to generate inferences.
  • Non-Verbal Reasoning, also called fluid reasoning or fluid intelligence, is used to think about and apply logic in new situations. This is in contrast to crystallized intelligence, which is used to directly retrieve and apply specific learned knowledge or skills.

Reasoning capacity begins to decline in early adulthood, and individuals begin to rely more heavily on Background Knowledge rather than Reasoning abilities to make sense of new contexts. As such, with reduced Reasoning, adults may have more difficulty learning and performing new tasks.

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