The impact of age, aetiology and cognitive reserve on the cognitive performance of frontal and posterior patients

Sarah E. MacPherson, Sara Gharooni, Edgar Chan, Colm Healy, Michael Allerhand, Tim Shallice, Lisa Cipolotti

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


Objective: Our previous work demonstrates that age and literacy attainment predict the cognitive performance of frontal patients on frontal-executive measures. In contrast, lesion aetiology does not influence performance. The notion that the effects of brain damage are mitigated by the premorbid efficiency, capacity and flexibility of cognitive processing (i.e., cognitive reserve) has been associated with the frontal lobes. However, it remains unknown whether this preservation is indeed only found in patients with frontal lobe lesions. In the current study, we examined whether the impact of age and literacy attainment on cognition are specific to frontal lesions and not to nonfrontal, posterior brain areas.

Participants and methods: Eighty-six patients with unilateral lesions in the frontal lobes and 67 patients with unilateral lesions in nonfrontal, posterior brain regions were recruited for the study. We investigated the influence of aetiology (stroke, tumour), age, lesion (frontal, posterior) and the independent effects of two cognitive reserve proxies, education and literacy attainment (NART IQ), on measures of executive function, processing speed, naming, and perception.

Results: We demonstrated that posterior patients with different aetiologies did not significantly differ in their performance on any of the cognitive measures. We then fitted multiple linear regression models for each of the cognitive measures and found that age and NART IQ predicted executive performance; lesion group did not. NART IQ also predicted naming abilities and age predicted processing speed. Only perceptual abilities were predicted by lesion group.

Conclusions: These results suggest that the grouping of frontal and posterior patients caused by different aetiologies is a justified methodological approach in neuropsychological group studies. Our latter findings suggest that while age and literacy attainment play independent roles in executive performance, this preservation is not specific to frontal lobe lesions.

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 15 Feb 2018
Event46th Annual INS meeting - Marriott Wardman Park, Washington, United States
Duration: 15 Feb 201817 Feb 2018


Conference46th Annual INS meeting
Country/TerritoryUnited States
Internet address


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