Executive function as a predictor of inattentive behavior after traumatic brain injury

Junghoon Kim, John Whyte, Tessa Hart, Monica Vaccaro, Marcia Polansky, H Branch Coslett
Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society: JINS 2005, 11 (4): 434-45
Emerging evidence from recent studies using laboratory and naturalistic attention tasks suggests that individuals with traumatic brain injury (TBI) may have a deficit mainly in strategic control of attention. In the present study, we tested the hypothesis that inattentive behavior after TBI could be predicted by performance on psychometric measures of executive function. A group of 37 individuals with moderate to severe TBI were assessed with previously validated naturalistic measures of attention. A battery of neuropsychological tests was also administered to assess various aspects of executive function. Seven measures of executive function and 10 variables reflecting inattentive behavior were combined to form 1 executive and 3 inattentive behavior (IB) composite scores. Three predictors (executive composite, current disability scores, and age) were associated, at the univariate level, with one of the IB composites reflecting frequency and duration of off-task episodes. A stepwise multiple regression procedure indicated that the executive composite was the only significant predictor of the IB composite. Additional post-hoc regression analyses suggested that the relationship was not likely to be mediated by processing speed. The current study supports the hypothesis that executive function, measured by commonly used neuropsychological tests, significantly predicts certain aspects of inattentive behavior in real-world tasks after TBI.

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