Current Psychiatry Reports

, Volume 4, Issue 5, pp 323-330

First online:

Recent developments in the application of the nonverbal learning disabilities model

  • Brenna C. McDonaldAffiliated withNeuropsychology Program, Department of Psychiatry, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, One Medical Center Drive

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Since the original work of Myklebust et al., the concept of a syndrome of nonverbal learning disabilities (NLD) has undergone considerable development and expansion, most notably in the work of Rourke. These authors have proposed a model of white matter dysfunction, predominantly in the right cerebral hemisphere, which is thought to underlie the cognitive and behavioral impairments seen in individuals with NLD. Recent research has focused on assessing the applicability of Rourke’s conceptualization of the NLD syndrome and the white matter model to various neurologic, neurodevelopmental, and genetic disorders. This paper highlights recent investigations of the NLD model with respect to velocardiofacial syndrome, Klinefelter syndrome, high functioning autism, neurofibromatosis type I, and metachromatic leukodystrophy, and also provides a brief discussion of recent conceptualizations of the NLD model in the broader context of disorders of social and emotional functioning, and of other novel avenues of NLD research.