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J Clin Exp Neuropsychol. 2007 Apr;29(3):319-32.

Impaired behavior on real-world tasks following damage to the ventromedial prefrontal cortex.

Author information

1
Department of Neurology, Division of Cognitive Neuroscience, University of Iowa College of Medicine, Iowa City, IA 52242, USA. daniel-tranel@uiowa.edu

Abstract

Patients with damage to the ventromedial prefrontal cortices (VMPC) commonly manifest blatant behavioral navigation defects in the real world, but it has been difficult to measure these impairments in the clinic or laboratory. Using a set of "strategy application" tasks, which were designed by Shallice and Burgess (1991) to be ecologically valid for detecting executive dysfunction, we investigated the hypothesis that VMPC damage would be associated with defective performance on such tasks, whereas damage outside the VMPC region would not. A group of 9 patients with bilateral VMPC damage was contrasted with comparison groups of participants with (a) prefrontal brain damage outside the VMPC region (n = 8); (b) nonprefrontal brain damage (n = 17); and (c) no brain damage (n = 20). We found support for the hypothesis: VMPC patients had more impaired performances on the strategy application tasks, especially on a Multiple Errands Test that required patients to execute a series of unstructured tasks in a real-world setting (shopping mall). The results are consistent with the notion that efficacious behavioral navigation is dependent on the VMPC region. However, the strategy application tasks were relatively time consuming and effortful, and their diagnostic yield over and above conventional executive functioning tests may not be sufficient to warrant their inclusion in standard clinical assessment.

PMID:
17454352
PMCID:
PMC2289390
DOI:
10.1080/13803390600701376
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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