A research – clinic collaboration to treat language disturbances

Neure Clinic is born as an initiative of knowledge transfer of the Basque Centre on Cognition, Brain and Language (BCBL), with the idea in mind of providing society with some of the developments of the institution, through an evaluation and diagnostic service. The aim of Neure Clinic is to provide exhaustive neuro-psychological and logopedical evaluations in the field of language. In this process, BCBL contributes the latest advances provided by the research teams at BCBL.

Basic research translating into application and social impact:

Neure Clinic translates knowledge of basic cognitive processes to socially relevant applications. The clinic focuses on disturbances as the breakdown due to brain pathology (tumours and stroke patients) and developmental language disorders (developmental dyslexia and specific language impairment). While generally acquiring language skills is natural and easy for most children, there are cases in which this process is incredibly challenging and costly.

Developmental disabilities as these can have dramatic and far-reaching impact on the lives of those affected, from their academic achievement to their mental health and economic status. For instance, developmental dyslexia and specific language impairment (SLI) are two neurogenetic disorders that affect the development of language skills and are found in 5 to 10% of the population (i.e. between 1 and 3 children per classroom). For such disorders, the earlier and the more comprehensive the diagnosis, the better the prognosis will be. As such, early diagnosis is of utmost importance, lest those early disturbances develop into more severe impairments.

The clinic is an opportunity for establishing collaboration with professionals in the field to set up a way of providing a detailed and well-informed diagnosis. The clinic will be a valued advanced diagnosis venue (including, for instance, neuroimaging tests) for developmental and learning disorders related to language, math and reading.

Neure Clinic addresses the diagnosis, treatment and monitoring of learning disorders, focusing primarily on school children
Neure Clinic addresses the diagnosis, treatment and monitoring of learning disorders, focusing primarily on school children

Neure Clinic will bring in new interesting data that, with the informed consent of the patients, will add to the value already present at the database of the Basque Center on Cognition Brain and Language (BCBL). This hence generates a win-win situation of cooperation between both bodies: BCBL’s expertise will benefit the clinic, while the collection of clinical histories in the database will benefit BCBL’s research.

The activities of the clinic:

Neure Clinic has developed a unique evaluation program of Basque and Spanish language skills in monolingual and bilingual children who struggle with language and reading acquisition. In collaboration with the BCBL, the clinic assesses reading and language skills to advise families on the most appropriate clinical and educational intervention strategies.

Neure Clinic carries out the neuropsychological evaluation of patients with brain tumours and patients that suffer from aphasia or related language impairments. The clinic has created assessment protocols that combine the administration of behavioural neuropsychological tools and neuroimaging measures to provide a rich set of data for a more comprehensive diagnosis, and therefore, for tailored responses to language deficits.

The diagnoses provided by Neure Clinic are unique because the assessment batteries have been built based on a close collaboration between practitioners (neuropsychologists and speech and language therapists) and BCBL researchers with extensive expertise in the field of language disorders.

The multidisciplinary collaborative developed at Neure clinic has allowed to create tasks that assess all the different levels of the causal explanatory chain, from brain, through cognition, to behaviour. The description and quantification of a disorder at each possible level of analysis within the same patient results in novel insights into the possible cause of each individual case. This provides teachers and practitioners with critical information to offer the best support to their patients.

The diagnosis program is the first to offer and integrate systematic neuroimaging evaluation. As well as creating a unique systematic clinical evaluation of skills at all levels of analysis, this initiative feeds back into the BCBL’s basic research significantly improving its scientific and theoretical knowledge in the field of cognitive neuroscience and language disorders.

Image credits:

Brain hemispheres image is in the public domain and was downloaded from Pixabay.

Neure Clinic picture was kindly provided by BCBL.