Attention and memory deficits observed in traumatic brain injury (TBI) are postulated to result from the shearing of white matter connections between the prefrontal cortex, parietal lobe, and cerebellum that are critical in the generation, maintenance, and precise timing of anticipatory neural activity. These fiber tracts are part of a neural network that generates predictions of future states and events, processes that are required for optimal performance on attention and working memory tasks. The authors discuss the role of this anticipatory neural system for understanding the varied symptoms and potential rehabilitation interventions for TBI. Preparatory neural activity normally allows the efficient integration of sensory information with goal-based representations. It is postulated that an impairment in the generation of this activity in traumatic brain injury (TBI) leads to performance variability as the brain shifts from a predictive to reactive mode. This dysfunction may constitute a fundamental defect in TBI as well as other attention disorders, causing working memory deficits, distractibility, a loss of goal-oriented behavior, and decreased awareness.