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Keywords

adolescence, brain injury, cognitive stall, discourse, executive function/executive control, frontal lobe, gist, neuroplasticity

 

Authors

  1. Gamino, Jacquelyn F. PhD
  2. Chapman, Sandra B. PhD
  3. Cook, Lori G. MS

Abstract

Little is known about strategic learning ability in preteens and adolescents with traumatic brain injury (TBI). Strategic learning is the ability to combine and synthesize details to form abstracted gist-based meanings, a higher-order cognitive skill associated with frontal lobe functions and higher classroom performance. Summarization tasks were used to measure strategic learning ability through the production of abstracted gist-based concepts, and specific probes measured memory for explicit details. Twenty middle school-aged preteens and teenagers who sustained a moderate to severe TBI 1 year postinjury and a control group of 20 typically developing 10-to 15-year-old subjects participated in this study. The results revealed that the youth with moderate to severe TBI were able to recall specific details at a comparable level to the control group. However, the youth with TBI demonstrated significantly lower strategic learning competence, as manifested by a reduced ability to combine details into gist-based ideas. The present findings advance the notion that skills that have not yet developed at the time of brain injury or are in a stage of development may be particularly vulnerable to the long-term and lasting sequelae of TBI in youth, although a longitudinal study is needed to verify this claim.