Age-related differences in executive function among children with spina bifida/hydrocephalus based on parent behavior ratings

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29 Scopus citations


Previous research has suggested that adolescents with myelomeningocele and shunted hydrocephalus (MMH) have difficulties with aspects of executive functioning and, in turn, with functional independence. There is little research, however, examining patterns of executive functioning across adolescence in this population. The goal of this cross-sectional study was to examine parent ratings of executive function in children with MMH and in typically developing peers across late childhood and adolescence. Parents of 36 individuals with MMH and 35 typically developing peers, ages 10 to 18 years, completed the Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function (BRIEF). The BRIEF is organized into eight scales and two primary indices - Metacognition (MCI) and Behavioral Regulation (BRI). As a whole, the children with MMH had significantly higher BRIEF T-scores, as well as a higher prevalence of clinically significant T-scores across subscales, particularly those representing cognitive control. Effects of group, age, and age-by-group interactions on the mean raw scores of the MCI and BRI were examined using regression analyses. There were significant group effects (p <. 05) for both the BRI and MCI, with the controls having significantly lower mean ratings than the MMH group. There was also a significant contribution of age-by-group interaction on the BRI (p <. 05). Although mean raw scores on the BRI for the MMH group remained stable across ages, mean raw scores in the control group decreased as age increased. Thus, healthy children have age-related improvements in executive control behaviors across adolescence, particularly behavioral control, while children with MMH demonstrate no age-related improvements in parent reported executive behaviors across adolescence. Therefore, children with MMH may continue to require targeted interventions and modifications to address executive dysfunction into young adulthood in order to promote functional independence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)585-602
Number of pages18
JournalClinical Neuropsychologist
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2008


  • Childhood and adolescence
  • Executive functioning
  • MMH

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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