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Attention function after childhood stroke



We investigated attentional outcome after childhood stroke and orthopedic diagnosis in medical controls. Twenty-nine children with focal stroke lesions and individually matched children with clubfoot or scoliosis were studied with standardized attention and neuroimaging assessments. Stroke lesions were quite varied in location and commonly involved regions implicated in Posner's model of attention networks. Children with stroke lesions performed significantly more poorly regarding attention function compared with controls. Performance on the Starry Night, a test demanding alerting and sensory-orienting but not executive attention function, was significantly associated with lesion size in the alerting and sensory-orienting networks but not the executive attention network. Furthermore, earlier age at lesion acquisition was significantly associated with poorer attention function even when lesion size was controlled. These findings support the theory of dissociable networks of attention and add to evidence from studies of children with diffuse and focal brain damage that early insults are associated with worse long-term outcomes in many domains of neuropsychological function. In addition, these results may provide clues towards the understanding of mechanisms underlying attention in children. (JINS, 2004, 10, 976–986.)


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Reprint requests to: Jeffrey E. Max, MBBCh, 3020 Children's Way, MC# 5033, University of California, San Diego, CA 92123. E-mail:


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