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Cognitive Reserve Proxies Do Not Differentially Account for Cognitive Performance in Patients with Focal Frontal and Non-Frontal Lesions

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  21 April 2020

Sarah E. MacPherson*
Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK Human Cognitive Neuroscience, Department of Psychology, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK
Michael Allerhand
Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK Department of Psychology, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK
Sarah Gharooni
Department of Neuropsychology, National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, London, UK
Daniela Smirni
Dipartimento di Scienze Psicologiche, Pedagogiche e della Formazione, Università degli Studi di Palermo, Palermo, Italy
Tim Shallice
Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, University College London, UK International School for Advanced Studies (SISSA-ISAS), Trieste, Italy
Edgar Chan
Department of Neuropsychology, National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, London, UK
Lisa Cipolotti
Department of Neuropsychology, National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, London, UK
*Correspondence and reprint requests to: Sarah E. MacPherson, Department of Psychology, PPLS, University of Edinburgh, 7 George Square, Edinburgh, UK, EH8 9JZ. E-mail:



Cognitive reserve (CR) suggests that premorbid efficacy, aptitude, and flexibility of cognitive processing can aid the brain’s ability to cope with change or damage. Our previous work has shown that age and literacy attainment predict the cognitive performance of frontal patients on frontal-executive tests. However, it remains unknown whether CR also predicts the cognitive performance of non-frontal patients.


We investigated the independent effect of a CR proxy, National Adult Reading Test (NART) IQ, as well as age and lesion group (frontal vs. non-frontal) on measures of executive function, intelligence, processing speed, and naming in 166 patients with focal, unilateral frontal lesions; 91 patients with focal, unilateral non-frontal lesions; and 136 healthy controls.


Fitting multiple linear regression models for each cognitive measure revealed that NART IQ predicted executive, intelligence, and naming performance. Age also significantly predicted performance on the executive and processing speed tests. Finally, belonging to the frontal group predicted executive and naming performance, while membership of the non-frontal group predicted intelligence.


These findings suggest that age, lesion group, and literacy attainment play independent roles in predicting cognitive performance following stroke or brain tumour. However, the relationship between CR and focal brain damage does not differ in the context of frontal and non-frontal lesions.

Regular Research
Copyright © INS. Published by Cambridge University Press, 2020

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Cognitive Reserve Proxies Do Not Differentially Account for Cognitive Performance in Patients with Focal Frontal and Non-Frontal Lesions
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Cognitive Reserve Proxies Do Not Differentially Account for Cognitive Performance in Patients with Focal Frontal and Non-Frontal Lesions
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