Pattern Recognition


What is it?

Pattern Recognition and Inductive Thinking is a special ability of the human brain to not only find patterns, but figure out in a logical way what those patterns suggest about what will happen next. In a broad sense, pattern recognition and inductive thinking form the basis for all scientific inquiry.
These two complex cognitive processes draw on six of the other core cognitive processes. Here we see in action sustained attention, response inhibition, speed of information processing, cognitive flexibility, working memory and category formation in the service of creative problem solving. ACTIVATE™ creates the opportunity for children to exercise the brain systems that both perform and integrate these core cognitive capacities.

When it’s a problem:

The ability to recognize patterns and reason inductively is key to a student’s ability to anticipate future actions or events – and to apply simple logic to day-to-day activities. Students who have trouble recognizing patterns may have difficulty following lessons (since they might not easily get into the “flow” of the lesson) and transitioning between activities (since they might not easily recognize cues that others students do about which activity is coming next).


1) Pepper the individual student with questions that cue the student to think about what will happen next. “What are you going to do when this reading period is over?” “Where do you need to be when the bell rings?” By cueing the student in this way, you can get them thinking more carefully about their surroundings and more actively guessing what’s coming up next.

2) Use number pattern problems. Assigning simple number pattern problems can be a good way to strengthen a child’s ability to recognize patterns as well as mathematical concepts. Working on number problems can activate the same areas of the brain that recognize and solve more general patterns.

3) Continue using ACTIVATE.  Ducks! creates the opportunity for children to exercise the brain systems that both perform and integrate these core cognitive capacities.  By exposing students to pattern-solving problems involving numbers, colors, shapes, categories, photos and all manner of different logic puzzles, students learn to work quickly to identify and use patterns. 


When it’s a strength:

Students who recognize patterns easily have a leg up when it comes to logic and inductive reasoning. They are likely to do well in disciplined activities that require steps being undertaken in a certain order.


1) Inductive reasoning is the basis for scientific inquiry. These students may have a leg up when it comes to learning the basics of scientific investigations (hypothesis – prediction – experiment, etc.). These students could be engaged in enrichment projects that play upon this ability, by asking them to create predictions about future events or technological developments and back up their ideas (i.e. draw a picture of the city of the future; create a future solution for a major world problem).