The neurocognitive model of language and executive function (I know…it’s quite a mouthful!) allows us to create and store representations of the world around us. This provides us with language (a label system for our representations) and mental life (i.e., mental thoughts and actions, the ability to manipulate thoughts in novel and alternate ways, ability to set goals, etc.).
The featured image above (created by Dr . Lisa Archibald) illustrates the interaction between all of the elements involved in our representation system. Throughout our Development Language Disorders course we are learning how one of these elements (i.e., working memory) or a combination of these elements (i.e., experience-based knowledge network) can have huge implications on a child’s ability to learn and make progress. The Model also highlights the importance of differentiated instruction and a universal design for learning approach (i.e., providing multiple means of representation, action and expression, and engagement in activities) which allows all children to participate and achieve success.
Thus, it is important for SLPs to consider the neurocognitive model during both assessment and intervention for a variety of reasons:
- The model allows us to consider a child’s cognitive competencies as a whole (i.e., experience-based knowledge network, language skills, time and space awareness, metacognitive skills, fluid intelligence, crystallized intelligence, etc.) and this may alter which tools we choose during assessment (i.e., informal vs. standardized assessment, dynamic assessment, etc.) and service delivery (i.e., structured drill vs. following the child’s lead).
- Using materials which are salient and culturally appropriate to the client may allow better activation of the child’s experience-based knowledge network (i.e., pragmatic knowledge, semantic knowledge, and episodic memory) and thus increase participation.
- To establish entrenchment of a particular grammatical form the child must be provided with frequent exposure to the target (i.e., via distributed practice).
- A child’s affective qualities (i.e., personality traits, temperaments, self-regulation skills, etc.) can impact the “ease” of assessment (i.e., easy to test vs. more difficult to test) or influence the format which will be most effective during intervention (i.e., working in a small group, one-on-one intervention, etc.).
- A child’s conative qualities (i.e., impulse, desire, volition, striving, coping, etc.) will also determine if they have the motivation to complete tasks and the self-regulation required to attend to tasks in various settings.
- We must consider the child’s environment (i.e., exposure to experiential opportunities, social relationships, classroom practices, etc.) and whether it is conducive to the child’s individual needs and learning. If it is not, we must consider which elements of the environment can be altered (i.e., classroom environment vs. experiential opportunities at home).