Cognitive Communication Disorder 

Cognitive-communication disorders are problems with communication that have an underlying cause in a cognitive deficit rather than a primary language or speech deficit.  

Cognitive-communication disorders vary in severity. Someone with a mild deficit may simply have difficulty concentrating in a loud environment, whereas a person with a more severe impairment may be unable to communicate at all. 

 

 A cognitive-communication disorder results from impaired functioning of one or more of the following cognitive processes: 

  • Attention - refers to the mental processes that enable people to be alert and to selectively focus on information from the environment or from the contents of their thinking. 

  • Executive Functioning -

    • Planning and organizing 

    • Problem Solving  

    • Reasoning 

  • Insight and Judgement - insight is the individuals ability to understand their present condition. Judgement is the individuals ability to successfully identify and problem solve life events. 

  • Language - is a structured system of communication. Language, in a broader sense, is the method of communication that involves the use of spoken or signed language to communicate. 

  • Memory -  refers to the processes that are used to acquire, store, retain, and later retrieve information. There are three major processes involved in memory:  

  • Encoding - is the first step to creating a new memory. It allows the perceived item of interest to be converted into a construct that can be stored within the brain, and then recalled later from short-term or long-term memory. 

  • Short-Term Memory - is also known as working memory, acts as a kind of scratch pad for temporary recall of the information which is being processed at any point in time. It holds a small amount of information (typically around 7 items or even less) in mind in an active, readily-available state for a short period of time (typically from 10 to 15 seconds, or sometimes up to a minute). 

 

Long-term memory is the storage of information over a long period of time. Long-term memory is often divided into two further main types:   

  • Explicit (or Declarative) Memory - is the memory of facts and events and refers to those memories that can be consciously recalled. It is sometimes called explicit memory since it consists of information that is explicitly stored and retrieved. Declarative memory can be further sub-divided into episodic memory and semantic memory.  

  • Implicit (or Procedural) Memory - is the unconscious memory of skills and how to do things, particularly the use of objects or movements of the body, such as tying a shoelace, playing the guitar or riding a bike. These memories are typically acquired through repetition and practice and are composed of automatic sensorimotor behaviors that are deeply embedded, allowing us to perform these skills automatically.  

  • Storage -  refers to the process of placing newly acquired information into memory, which is modified in the brain for easier storage. 

  • Retrieval - refers to the process of remembering information stored in long-term memory. 

  • Organization - is the ability to arrange thoughts and ideas in a useful order. 

  • Orientation - is a function of the mind involving awareness of three dimensions: time, place and person. 

  • Perception - is the ability to capture, process, and actively make sense of the information that our senses receive. It is a cognitive process that makes it possible to interpret our surroundings with the stimuli that we receive throughout sensory organs. 

  • Processing Speed - refers to the individuals ability to understand and process information quickly. 

 

These cognitive processes are not isolated abilities. They work together. A problem with one or more cognitive functions may cause difficulty performing activities of daily living safely & efficiently as well as communicating effectively. 

 

A person with a cognitive-communication disorder may have difficulty paying attention to a conversation, staying on topic, remembering information, responding accurately, understanding jokes or metaphors, or following directions. 

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