APACS (special project)
The project APACS (Assessment of Pragmatic Abilities and Cognitive Substrates) was launched in June 2010, thanks to a biannual research grant awarded to V. Bambini by Regione Toscana. The goal is to develop both an innovative method and the appropriate practical tools to assess linguistic-communicative disorders, along with their impact on the patient’s familiar environment.
Traditional neurofunctional models of language are based on formal aspects,
such as production and comprehension of sounds and words. Such models have so far informed both diagnosis and treatment, inspiring tests on comprehension about specific syntactic constructions or on articulation of specific consonant sounds. In the patient’s life, however, language is mostly used for communication purposes, a task that goes far beyond the correct processing of sounds and words. A considerable number of patients, while able to (grammatically and phonetically) handle words and sentences, fail to communicate properly. Such communicative disorders usually go unnoticed by standard neuropsychological tests.
The tools that will be developed within the APACS project will thus not simply aim at assessing language abilities, but rather language abilities in ecological (communicative) contexts. In this light, the project will provide an assessment method focusing on the pragmatics of language use, rather than on the formal aspects of linguistic structure.
The scientific investigation will be inspired by evidence collected on healthy subjects within the fields of Experimental Pragmatic and Neuropragmatics, with useful insights on the extra-linguistic cognitive substrates of pragmatic abilities.