Selective impairment of the executive attentional network in adult patients with neurofibromatosis type 1


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Abstract

Cognitive dysfunction accompanied by neurofibromatosis type 1 is one of the significant characteristics of this neurocutaneous disorder and has a serious impact on patients’ quality of life. Although studies on cognitive function in children with neurofibromatosis type 1 have revealed that attentional impairment is a key deficit in these patients, few studies have examined their neuropsychological profile, especially whether the attentional function is also abnormal and specific in adult patients with neurofibromatosis type 1. In this study, we used the revised attention network test to examine the function of three attentional networks–alerting, orienting and executive control–in 20 adult patients with neurofibromatosis type 1 in comparison to 20 normal controls. Adult patients with neurofibromatosis type 1 showed significant greater conflict effect for the executive control network, but no significant differences were found for alerting and orienting network relative to normal controls. These results provide evidence that there is an attentional deficit which is specifically associated with the executive control network in adult patients with neurofibromatosis type 1.

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