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Processing Speed Delays Contribute to Executive Function Deficits in Individuals with Agenesis of the Corpus Callosum

  • Elysa J. Marco (a1) (a2) (a3), Kathryn M. Harrell (a4), Warren S. Brown (a4), Susanna S. Hill (a1), Rita J. Jeremy (a4), Joel H. Kramer (a1) (a2), Elliott H. Sherr (a1) (a3) and Lynn K. Paul (a4) (a5)...

Corpus callosum malformation and dysfunction are increasingly recognized causes of cognitive and behavioral disability. Individuals with agenesis of the corpus callosum (AgCC) offer unique insights regarding the cognitive skills that depend specifically upon callosal connectivity. We examined the impact of AgCC on cognitive inhibition, flexibility, and processing speed using the Color-Word Interference Test (CWIT) and Trail Making Test (TMT) from the Delis-Kaplan Executive Function System. We compared 36 individuals with AgCC and IQs within the normal range to 56 matched controls. The AgCC cohort was impaired on timed measures of inhibition and flexibility; however, group differences on CWIT Inhibition, CWIT Inhibition/Switching and TMT Number-Letter Switching appear to be largely explained by slow performance in basic operations such as color naming and letter sequencing. On CWIT Inhibition/Switching, the AgCC group was found to commit significantly more errors which suggests that slow performance is not secondary to a cautious strategy. Therefore, while individuals with agenesis of the corpus callosum show real deficits on tasks of executive function, this impairment appears to be primarily a consequence of slow cognitive processing. Additional studies are needed to investigate the impact of AgCC on other aspects of higher order cortical function. (JINS, 2012, 18, 521–529)

Corresponding author
Correspondence and reprint requests to: Lynn K. Paul, 1200 E. California Blvd., Caltech, HSS 228-77, Pasadena, CA 91125. E-mail:
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Elysa J. Marco and Kathryn M. Harrell contributed equally to this manuscript; Elliott H. Sherr and Lynn K. Paul contributed equally as well.

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Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society
  • ISSN: 1355-6177
  • EISSN: 1469-7661
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