Executive Functions and Social Competence in Young Children 6 Months Following Traumatic Brain Injury

Kalaichelvi Ganesalingam, Keith Owen Yeates*, H. Gerry Taylor, Nicolay Chertkoff Walz, Terry Stancin, Shari Wade

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

109 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: This study examined the impact of traumatic brain injury (TBI) in young children on executive functions and social competence, and particularly on the role of executive functions as a predictor of social competence. Method: Data were drawn from a prospective, longitudinal study. Participants were children between the ages of 3 years 0 months and 6 years 11 months at time of injury. The initial sample included 23 with severe TBI, 64 with moderate TBI, and 119 with orthopedic injuries (OI). All participants were assessed at 3 and 6 months postinjury. Executive functions were assessed using neuropsychological tests (Delayed Alternation task and Shape School) and parent ratings on the Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function and Child Behavior Questionnaire. Parents rated children's social competence on the Adaptive Behavior Assessment System, Preschool and Kindergarten Behavior Scales, and Home and Community Social Behavior Scales. Results: Children with severe TBI displayed more negative outcomes than children with OI on neuropsychological tests, ratings of executive functions, and ratings of social competence (η2 ranged from .03 to .11). Neuropsychological tests of executive functions had significant but weak relationships with behavioral ratings of executive functions (ΔR2 ranged from .06 to .08). Behavioral ratings of executive functions were strongly related to social competence (ΔR2 ranged from .32 to .42), although shared rater and method variance likely contributed to these associations. Conclusions: Severe TBI in young children negatively impacts executive functions and social competence. Executive functions may be an important determinant of social competence following TBI.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)466-476
Number of pages11
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Executive functions
  • Social competence
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Young children


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