Neuropsychological Functional Approach

Attention/Executive Functions
Attention involves the regulation of arousal and vigilance, selective attention, sustained attention, attention span, as well as inhibition and control of behavior. Executive functioning allows for the planning and implementation of complex tasks. In so doing, one is able to monitor performance and correct errors while simultaneously maintaining awareness of task relevant information in the presence of irrelevant information. These abilities are essential to virtually all areas of academic performance.

Language Functions
Language functions include phonological processing, receptive language comprehension, understanding of the syntactic structure of language, automaticity with which semantic memory can be accessed (naming) and ease and facility of language production. Cognitive processing deficits in this area may be related to difficulty recognizing phonological segments of words, difficulty in decoding, difficulty in word find or naming (accessing semantic memory automatically), and language comprehension. Academic areas affected by these weaknesses would include basic reading skills, reading comprehension, written expression, listening comprehension, oral expression, and math reasoning where the math problem is encoded in language.

Sensory Functions
Sensory functions are those functions or systems that mediate or bring about the production of speed, smooth and efficient limb and whole body movement, and dexterous movements of the hands and fingers, as well as systems that mediate equilibrium and sensory input at the tactile level and eye movement. Deficits in these areas are primarily related to math calculations and penmanship. Some studies have reported significant correlations between performance on finger discrimination and reading ability.

Visuospatial Processing
Visuospatial processing could be succinctly defined as visual comprehension, problem solving, and reasoning. It consists of many distinct but interrelated subcomponents, (e.g. visualization, location, directionality, copying, rotating objects mentally, understanding symbolic representations of external space, etc.). Deficits in these processing abilities have been associated with difficulties performing math calculations that present the student with numbers, charts, and math signs, as well as penmanship.

Memory and Learning
Memory includes the ability to encode, store, and retrieve verbal and nonverbal information. While classic definitions of learning may be viewed as synonymous with memory, psychologists frequently view learning as changes in the amount of information remembered from one trial to the next. Specific memory problems appear to be rare in children with developmental learning disorders. Memory problems occur more frequently as secondary deficits in attention, verbal processing and visual perception, or are a function of low global intelligence. Nevertheless, children with reading disabilities frequently have limited auditory memory span.

adapted from Korkman, M., Kirk, U., & Kemp, S. (1998). The NEPSY Manuel. The Psych Corporation