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Consequences of mild traumatic brain injury on information processing assessed with attention and short-term memory tasks.

In this investigation, we explored the impact of mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) upon short term or working memory and attention. The performance of 37 individuals with mTBI was compared with that of 53 age, sex and education-matched controls. All participants were staff members or individuals seeking medical care at a University hospital serving a large metropolitan area. A battery of computerized tests measured sustained visual attention, short-term memory (STM), simple reaction time, and decision time. Individuals with mTBI showed a performance deficit at sustained visual attention, STM scanning and a trend towards slowing in choice decision making. These observed changes in the cognitive performance of mTBI individuals are hypothesized to be a consequence of impaired central information processing. Our results suggest that mTBI can elicit meaningful cognitive deficits for several months post-injury. Additionally, we believe that the tasks employed in the current investigation demonstrate their utility for understanding cognitive deficits in mTBI individuals.

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