Early neuropsychological profile of children diagnosed with a brain tumor predicts later academic difficulties at school age

Maria Chiara Oprandi, Alessandra Bardoni, Maura Massimino, Lorenza Gandola, Geraldina Poggi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Children diagnosed with a brain tumor (BT) in the first years of their life are at high risk of cognitive and neuropsychological problems, more school difficulties, and an increased need for educational support. To improve this condition, it will be beneficial to be able to identify the neuropsychological variables that are early predictors of school competences at later ages. Methods: We longitudinally assessed 30 school-age BT children with a diagnosis before the age of 5 who were administered cognitive and neuropsychological evaluations before entering school or in the first 2 school years and who were followed up for academic performance at least one year after the first evaluation. A discriminant function analysis was conducted to detect the early neuropsychological profile that best predicted those children who turned out to need school support or not; we tested 5 block multiple regression models, one for each academic variable entering as predictors the neuropsychological variables that significantly discriminated the two groups. Results: A total of 93.3% of the cases were correctly classified according to the discriminant function in “with vs. without” educational support. Visual attention abilities were highly correlated with resulting school problems, both for reading (accuracy and speed) and math (operations) at school age. Conclusions: Analysis provided evidence that the early neuropsychological profile may predict academic difficulties for both reading and math at school age and that visual attention seems to play an important role in both these academic abilities, allowing clinicians to identify children with major difficulties in/from early years and to intervene beforehand.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)447-456
Number of pages10
JournalChild's Nervous System
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Brain tumor
  • Math
  • Reading
  • School support
  • Visual attention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Clinical Neurology


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