Cognitive-Communication Abilities

Cognitive-communication abilities are those thought processes that allow humans to function successfully and interact meaningfully with each other. Many processes make up cognitive-communication. Examples of these are: orientation, attention, memory, problem solving, and executive function:

    1.  Orientation- refers to awareness of person, place, time and circumstance.

    2.  Attention- refers to the ability to concentrate; often broken down into four types:

  • Focused attention- ability to briefly respond to a specific visual, auditory, tactile stimuli
  • Sustained attention- ability to maintain concentration on a single activity
  • Alternating attention- ability to shift the focus of attention and move between different tasks
  • Divided attention- ability to respond simultaneously to multiple tasks demands (e.g. multitask)

    3.  Memory- refers to the ability to remember; can be broken down in many different ways:

  • Sensory Memory- ability to remember information related to any of the five senses: smell, taste, touch, vision, and audition (hearing)
  • Short-Term Memory- ability to remember information for up to a few minutes
  • Long-Term Memory- ability to remember for several minutes, hours, days, or longer
  • Procedural Memory- ability to physically remember how to do actions, movements, or other motor activities; for example: serving a tennis ball, playing the piano.
  • Prospective Memory- ability to remember what needs to be remembered; for example: meeting friends at a certain place in two hours; taking a medication at the right time

Sometimes, memory is described in terms of three stages: encoding, storage, and retrieval. During encoding, information to be remembered is analyzed/processed. During storage, information to be remembered is “put in a good place” in the brain. During retrieval, stored information is called back (recalled) when it is wanted or needed.

    4.  Problem Solving- refers to the ability to think or reason about things; may involve decision making. Problem solving involves five components:

  • Identify the problem
  • Identify all possible solutions to the problem
  • Select the best solution
  • Solve the problem
  • Make sure that the solution is working/worked and adapt as needed

    5.  Executive Function- refers to the ability to plan, initiate, complete, and oversee goal-directed behavior; coordinates attention, memory, and problem solving abilities to function creatively, competently, and independently.

Language may be viewed as another cognitive-communication process, with many parts that include: Auditory Comprehension, Verbal Expression (content), Speech Intelligibility, Reading, Writing, and Social Skills. Developmentally, thinking affects language, and language affects thinking. In Western Cultures, most thinking is done using language.