Attentional deficits are common and significant sequelae of pediatric traumatic brain injury (TBI). However, little is known about how the underlying neural processes that support different components of attention are affected. The present study examined brain activation patterns using fMRI in a group of young children who sustained a TBI in early childhood (n = 5; mean age = 9.4), and a group of age-matched control children with orthopedic injuries (OI) (n = 8) during a continuous performance task (CPT). Four children in the TBI group had moderate injuries, and one had a severe injury. Performance on the CPT task did not differ between groups. Both TBI and OI children activated similar networks of brain regions relevant to sustained attention processing, but the TBI group demonstrated several areas of significantly greater activation relative to controls, including frontal and parietal regions. These findings of over-activation of the relevant attention network in the TBI group contrast with those obtained in imaging studies of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder where under-activation of the attention network has been documented. This study provides evidence that young children's brains function differently following a traumatic brain injury, and that these differences persist for years after the injury. (JINS, 2008, 14, 424–435.)
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