Neuropsychological and neurobehavioral outcome following childhood arterial ischemic stroke: Attention deficits, emotional dysregulation, and executive dysfunction.


Objectives: To investigate neuropsychological and neurobehavioral outcome in children with arterial ischemic stroke (AIS). Background: Childhood stroke can have consequences on motor, cognitive, and behavioral development. We present a cross-sectional study of neuropsychological and neurobehavioral outcome at least one year poststroke in a uniquely homogeneous sample of children who had experienced AIS. Method: Forty-nine children with AIS aged 6 to 18 years were recruited from a specialist clinic. Neuropsychological measures of intelligence, reading comprehension, attention, and executive function were administered. A triangulation of data collection included questionnaires completed by the children, their parents, and teachers, rating behavior, executive functions, and emotions. Key Findings: Focal neuropsychological vulnerabilities in attention (response inhibition and dual attention) and executive function were found, beyond general intellectual functioning, irrespective of hemispheric side of stroke. Difficulties with emotional and behavioral regulation were also found. Consistent with an ‘early plasticity’ hypothesis, earlier age of stroke was associated with better performance on measures of executive function. Conclusions: A significant proportion of children poststroke are at long-term risk of difficulties with emotional regulation, executive function, and attention. Data also suggest that executive functions are represented in widespread networks in the developing brain and are vulnerable to unilateral injury.