Effects of moderate to severe traumatic brain injury on anticipating consequences of actions in adolescents: a preliminary study

J Int Neuropsychol Soc. 2013 May;19(5):508-17. doi: 10.1017/S1355617712001452. Epub 2013 Jan 14.


For this pilot study, we compared performance of 15 adolescents with moderate-severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) to that of 13 typically developing (TD) adolescents in predicting social actions and consequences for avatars in a virtual microworld environment faced with dilemmas involving legal or moral infractions. Performance was analyzed in relation to cortical thickness in brain regions implicated in social cognition. Groups did not differ in number of actions predicted nor in reasons cited for predictions when presented only the conflict situation. After viewing the entire scenario, including the choice made by the avatar, TD and TBI adolescents provided similar numbers of short-term consequences. However, TD adolescents provided significantly more long-term consequences (p = .010). Additionally, for the Overall qualitative score, TD adolescents' responses were more likely to reflect the long-term impact of the decision made (p = .053). Groups differed in relation of the Overall measure to thickness of right medial prefrontal cortex/frontal pole and precuneus, with stronger relations for the TD group (p < .01). For long-term consequences, the relations to the posterior cingulate, superior medial frontal, and precentral regions, and to a lesser extent, the middle temporal region, were stronger for the TBI group (p < .01).

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Alkaloids
  • Brain Injuries / complications*
  • Brain Injuries / diagnosis
  • Brain Injuries / psychology*
  • Child
  • Developmental Disabilities / etiology*
  • Executive Function / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intention*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Social Behavior Disorders / etiology*
  • Time Factors
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • User-Computer Interface
  • Young Adult


  • Alkaloids
  • Wilcox compound