The Future of Education

Edition 14

Accepted Abstracts

The Interaction between Supervisory Attentional System and Phonological Component of Language in the Pathogenesis of Stuttering.Case Studies.

Maria Cristina Veneroso, University of Naples "Federico II" (Italy)

Andreas Di Somma, ASL Napoli 2 Nord (Italy)

Vincenzo Di Maro, Associazione Nazionale Disturbi dell’Apprendimento (Italy)

Francesco Benso, University of Genoa (Italy)




International literature increasingly confirms that the Supervisory Attentional System [SAS; Shallice, 1988] is involved in language development [e.g. Bolter et al., 2006], by promoting the processes of “modularisation” [Karmiloff-Smith, 1992], supervising the competitive selection of automated frameworks, and controlling modules. 

The work we present aims to demonstrate the relation between the phonological complexity of linguistic output context, working memory and attentional system in the pathogenesis of stuttering as well as during therapy, taking Moscovith’s and Umiltà’s hierarchical modular approach as a reference conceptual framework.  

That model accepts and incorporates the views of the individual components, assuming the role of  the Supervisory Attentional System as central to the development of language. The samples of language we collected, concerning stuttering patients (15 cases), show that the phonological complexity of linguistic areas (lexical, morpho-syntactic and narrative) is directly proportional to the number of stuttering disfluencies. Clearly, repeating two words that a non-disabled adult individual has just heard is a distinctly modular linguistic operation, whereas repeating eight or nine words becomes an operation which is mostly based on memory and attention, or just on attention if we consider working memory as pure attention [Cowan, 2005]. The correlation between the data obtained from the evaluation protocol of the executive system and the occurrence of stuttering suggests that there are two groups of stutterers: a first group (the minority) that suffers from a lack of resources which would be insufficient to foster learning processes and therefore the automaticity of the linguistic module; these individuals would need to constantly control the processes but, since that would always be insufficient to get to complete automaticity, they would be led to stuttering; in the second group, statistically more numerous, the Supervisory Attentional System, although modularization is achieved, would continue to substantially intervene (due to emotional factors as well) controlling the linguistic module through non-specific resources, and causing the loss of fluency. The therapy aims to train the ability to perform a “dual-task”, fostering the relocation of the “resources” within the linguistic module that will regain fluency.





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