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J Child Neurol. 2004 Sep;19(9):666-74.

Behavioral and cognitive aspects of tuberous sclerosis complex.

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Harvard Medical School, Departments of Psychiatry and Neurology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA, USA.


Tuberous sclerosis complex is a multisystem genetic disorder. Of all the possible manifestations of this complex disorder, the cognitive and behavioral problems represent the area of greatest concern to parents and caregivers. This review outlines the current evidence regarding global intellectual abilities, behavioral problems, psychiatric diagnoses, learning disorders, and specific neuropsychologic deficits for which individuals with tuberous sclerosis complex are at particularly increased risk, and outlines approaches to intervention. Approximately half of individuals diagnosed with tuberous sclerosis complex present with global intellectual impairment and developmental psychopathologies. Those with normal intellectual abilities are also at high risk of specific neuropsychologic deficits and behavioral, learning, and other psychiatric disorders. There is no evidence for an inevitable decline in cognition or behavior, and any such changes should be investigated. The evolving neurocognitive literature suggests that frontal brain systems might be most consistently disrupted by tuberous sclerosis complex-related neuropathology, thus leading to abnormalities in regulatory and goal-directed behaviors.

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