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Pediatr Neurol. 2005 Aug;33(2):79-93.

Executive functions after traumatic brain injury in children.

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Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas 77030, USA.


There is growing recognition that executive function, the superordinate, managerial capacity for directing more modular abilities, is frequently impaired by traumatic brain injury in children and mediates the neurobehavioral sequelae exhibited by these patients. This review encompasses the definition of specific executive functions, age-related changes in executive functions in typically developing children, and the effects of traumatic brain injury on executive functions. The neural substrate for executive functions is described, including relevant functional brain imaging studies that have implicated mediation by prefrontal and parietal cortex and their circuitry. The vulnerability of the neural substrate for executive function to the pathophysiology of traumatic brain injury is discussed, including focal lesions and diffuse axonal injury. Domains of executive functions covered in this review include the basic processes of working memory and inhibition and more complex processes such as decision making. Other domains of executive function, including motivation, self-regulation, and social cognition are discussed in terms of research methodology, clinical assessment, and findings in children with traumatic brain injury. Proposed approaches to the rehabilitation of executive functions are presented.

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