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.