Our ability to use critical thinking skills, or cognitive skills, affects how well we can learn and use language to communicate. Problems in cognitive skills can arise from damage to the brain due to stroke, traumatic brain injury, and other neurogenic disorders. They can impact a person's ability to remember, attend, learn new information, make decisions, and interact socially.
Cognitive-communication problems include difficulty with the following:
- Attention: Difficulty concentrating on a task or focusing on what is said or seen.
- Perception: Visual perception deficits causing a person to have difficulty perceiving and processing information.
- Reasoning and problem solving: Difficulty identifying that there is a problem (e.g., ran out of medication) and generating solutions (e.g., call the pharmacy).
- Memory: Difficulty recalling previously learned information and learning new information.
- Social communication (pragmatics): Difficulty interpreting abstract language such as metaphors, making inferences, and understanding jokes; and problems understanding nonverbal cues and following the rules of communication (e.g., saying inappropriate things, not using facial expressions, talking at the wrong time).
- Organization: Difficulty with systematically arranging information and planning, which is often reflected in communication difficulties, such as trouble telling a story with events in the right order, giving directions, or maintaining a topic during conversation.
- Insight: Difficulty recognizing problems and their impact on daily functioning.
- Orientation: Difficulty recalling the date, time, or place. The individual may also be disoriented to self, meaning that he/she cannot correctly recall personal information, such as birth date, age, or address.
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