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Ann Neurol. 2002 Jul;52(1):82-8.

Working memory after traumatic brain injury in children.

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  • 1Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX 77030, USA. hlevin@bcm.tmc.edu


To investigate the effects of traumatic brain injury on working memory in children, we administered semantic (letter identity) and phonological (letter rhyme) N-back tasks to children who were on average 5 years post-mild (n = 54) or -severe (n = 26) traumatic brain injury and 44 typically developing children who were comparable in age. The correct detection of targets and false alarms were measured for each task. Memory load (which varied from 0 to 3 letters back) and age significantly affected the detection of targets and false alarms in both tasks. The severity of traumatic brain injury affected the correct detection of letters on the identity task and false alarms on the rhyme task. Traumatic brain injury severity also interacted with memory load in its effect on false alarms on the rhyme task. Traumatic brain injury results in impaired working memory and diminished inhibition in children. The N-back working memory task is feasible for administration to brain-injured children and potentially could be useful for studying brain activation associated with working memory and effects of drug therapy in this group of patients.

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