Attentional functioning and white matter integrity among survivors of malignant brain tumors of childhood

J Int Neuropsychol Soc. 2004 Mar;10(2):180-9. doi: 10.1017/S135561770410204X.


Children surviving treatment for malignant brain tumors commonly have problems maintaining their premorbid levels of intellectual development and academic achievement. Our group has been especially interested in the effects of treatment on normal appearing white matter (NAWM) on MRI and the influence of NAWM volumes on neurocognitive functioning. The present study assessed NAWM and attentional abilities among 37 long-term survivors of malignant brain tumors, ranging in age from 1.7 to 14.8 (Mdn = 6.5) years at diagnosis, who had been treated with cranial radiation therapy with or without chemotherapy 2.6 to 15.3 (Mdn = 5.7) years earlier. On the Conners' Continuous Performance Test, the Overall Index and 7 of the other 10 indices were significantly deficient compared to age- and gender-corrected normative values. After statistically controlling for the effects of age at diagnosis and time elapsed from treatment, 5 of the 8 indices were significantly associated with cerebral white matter volumes and/or specific regional white matter volumes of the prefrontal/frontal lobe and cingulate gyrus. No gender effects were observed. The results of the present study further support the contention that NAWM is an important substrate for treatment-induced neurocognitive problems among survivors of malignant brain tumors of childhood.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Attention / physiology*
  • Brain / pathology*
  • Brain / physiopathology*
  • Brain Neoplasms / complications*
  • Brain Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cognition Disorders / diagnosis
  • Cognition Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Cognition Disorders / etiology*
  • Disease-Free Survival
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Reaction Time