Enriching Communicative Environments: Leveraging Advances in Neuroplasticity for Improving Outcomes in Neurogenic Communication Disorders Purpose Research manipulating the complexity of housing environments for healthy and brain-damaged animals has offered strong, well-replicated evidence for the positive impacts in animal models of enriched environments on neuroplasticity and behavioral outcomes across the lifespan. This article reviews foundational work on environmental enrichment from the animal literature and considers ... Review Article
Newly Published
Review Article  |   November 16, 2018
Enriching Communicative Environments: Leveraging Advances in Neuroplasticity for Improving Outcomes in Neurogenic Communication Disorders
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Julie A. Hengst
    Department of Speech and Hearing Science, University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign
  • Melissa C. Duff
    Department of Hearing and Speech Sciences, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, TN
  • Theresa A. Jones
    Department of Psychology, The University of Texas at Austin
  • Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.
    Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication. ×
  • Correspondence to Julie A. Hengst: hengst@illinois.edu
  • Editor-in-Chief: Margaret Blake
    Editor-in-Chief: Margaret Blake×
  • Editor: Janet Patterson
    Editor: Janet Patterson×
  • Publisher Note: This article is part of the Special Issue: Select Papers From the 47th Clinical Aphasiology Conference.
    Publisher Note: This article is part of the Special Issue: Select Papers From the 47th Clinical Aphasiology Conference.×
Article Information
Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Traumatic Brain Injury / Newly Published / Review Article
Review Article   |   November 16, 2018
Enriching Communicative Environments: Leveraging Advances in Neuroplasticity for Improving Outcomes in Neurogenic Communication Disorders
American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, Newly Published. doi:10.1044/2018_AJSLP-17-0157
History: Received September 18, 2017 , Revised February 18, 2018 , Accepted June 2, 2018
 
American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, Newly Published. doi:10.1044/2018_AJSLP-17-0157
History: Received September 18, 2017; Revised February 18, 2018; Accepted June 2, 2018

Purpose Research manipulating the complexity of housing environments for healthy and brain-damaged animals has offered strong, well-replicated evidence for the positive impacts in animal models of enriched environments on neuroplasticity and behavioral outcomes across the lifespan. This article reviews foundational work on environmental enrichment from the animal literature and considers how it relates to a line of research examining rich communicative environments among adults with aphasia, amnesia, and related cognitive-communication disorders.

Method Drawing on the authors' own research and the broader literature, this article first presents a critical review of environmental complexity from the animal literature. Building on that animal research, the second section begins by defining rich communicative environments for humans (highlighting the combined effects of complexity, voluntariness, and experiential quality). It then introduces key frameworks for analyzing and designing rich communicative environments: distributed communication and functional systems along with sociocultural theories of learning and development in humans that support them. The final section provides an overview of Hengst's and Duff's basic and translational research, which has been designed to exploit the insights of sociocultural theories and research on environmental complexity. In particular, this research has aimed to enrich communicative interactions in clinical settings, to trace specific communicative resources that characterize such interactions, and to marshal rich communicative environments for therapeutic goals for individuals with aphasia and amnesia.

Conclusions This article concludes by arguing that enriching and optimizing environments and experiences offers a very promising approach to rehabilitation efforts designed to enhance the reorganization of cognitive-communicative abilities after brain injury. Such interventions would require clinicians to use the principles outlined here to enrich communicative environments and to target distributed communication in functional systems (not the isolated language of individuals).

Acknowledgments
We would like to acknowledge the many funding sources that have supported the research reported here, especially the Mary Jane Neer Grant, College of Applied Life Science, University of Illinois (Hengst); the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders Grant R01 DC011755 (Duff); and the Marion Morse Woods Fellowship, Graduate College, University of Illinois (Devanga).
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