Performance-based and parent ratings of attention in children treated for a brain tumor: The significance of radiation therapy and tumor location on outcome

Child Neuropsychol. 2018 Apr;24(3):413-425. doi: 10.1080/09297049.2017.1280144. Epub 2017 Jan 26.


Children are at increased risk for cognitive difficulties following the diagnosis and treatment of a brain tumor. Radiation therapy (RT) and tumor location are commonly-cited predictors of neurocognitive functioning. Disruptions to foundational neurocognitive processes such as attention, working memory, and processing speed underlie declines on measures of general intellectual functioning. While several studies have examined visual sustained attention in pediatric brain tumor patients, auditory sustained attention has yet to be examined. This study employs a longitudinal design to examine performance-based and parent ratings of attention in children undergoing surgical resection of a brain tumor (n = 29) and treated with (n = 11) or without (n = 18) RT at 6.79 months post-surgery (baseline) and then again at 30.56 months post-surgery (follow-up). The measures include an auditory continuous performance test (CPT) and parent ratings of attention and hyperactivity on a behavior rating scale. Ultimately, children treated with and without RT performed similarly on performance-based and parent ratings of attention. However, the performance on the auditory CPT differed according to tumor location, with children with infratentorial tumors committing more inattention and inhibitory control errors compared to children with supratentorial tumors. Parent ratings did not differ according to tumor location, and parent ratings and auditory sustained attention performance are not significantly correlated. The findings are interpreted in the context of neurocognitive and brain development.

Keywords: Brain tumor; Pediatric; Radiation; Sustained attention; Tumor location.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / psychology
  • Attention*
  • Brain Neoplasms / complications
  • Brain Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Brain Neoplasms / therapy
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory, Short-Term / physiology*
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Parents / psychology*
  • Survivors / psychology*