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Behav Genet. 2011 May;41(3):430-6. doi: 10.1007/s10519-010-9430-5. Epub 2010 Dec 24.

Does cognitive impairment explain behavioral and social problems of children with neurofibromatosis type 1?

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Department of Education and Child Studies, Clinical Child and Adolescent Studies, Leiden Institute for Brain and Cognition, Leiden University, The Netherlands.


Thirty NF1-patients (mean age 11.7 years, SD = 3.3) and 30 healthy controls (mean age 12.5 years, SD = 3.1) were assessed on social skills, autistic traits, hyperactivity-inattention, emotional problems, conduct problems, and peer problems. Cognitive control, information processing speed, and social information processing were measured using 5 computer tasks. GLM analyses of variance showed significant group differences, to the disadvantage of NF1-patients, on all measures of behavior, social functioning and cognition. General cognitive ability (a composite score of processing speed, social information processing, and cognitive control) accounted for group differences in emotional problems, whereas social information processing accounted for group differences in conduct problems. Although reductions were observed for group differences in other aspects of behavior and social functioning after control for (specific) cognitive abilities, group differences remained evident. Training of cognitive abilities may help reducing certain social and behavioral problems of children with NF1, but further refinement regarding associations between specific aspects of cognition and specific social and behavioral outcomes is required.

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