Neuropsychological impairment after removal of posterior fossa tumors is a recurrent issue in child neuropsychology and neurosurgery. The aim of this study was to assess verbal and performance intelligence, as well as immediate and sustained attention, in children with medulloblastoma or astrocytoma operated on for total removal of the lesion. Surgical treatment of medulloblastoma was always followed by chemoradiotherapy. Siblings of both tumor groups (without a history of neurological disease, even suspected) were examined as controls. The results were as follows: the cognitive performances were significantly poorer than the controls in both groups; the children with medulloblastoma scored below normal. Attention deficits were present in both groups as well when the usual clinical tests were used. When assessed by means of computerized methodology, the same function was normal. Considering that both groups of children underwent the same surgical treatment and all had hydrocephalus, the severe intellectual impairment reported only in patients with medulloblastoma can be ascribed to chemoradiotherapy. In contrast, the attention deficits present in both groups could be ascribed to the proximity of lesions to the ascending activating system. Malfunctioning of the activating system seems to be bypassed by the computerized administration of stimuli, which supplies motivation and kindles attention.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
- Clinical Neurology