A Unified Account of Cognitive Impairments Following Frontal Lobe Damage: The Role of Working Memory in Complex, Organized Behavior

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Abstract

A computer model is presented that performs 4 tasks sometimes impaired by frontal damage: motor sequencing, the Stroop task, the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test, and a context memory task. In each task, patterns of performance typical of frontal-damaged patients are shown to result from the same type of damage to the model, specifically, weakening of associations among elements in working memory. The simulation shows how a single underlying type of damage could result in impairments on a variety of seemingly distinct tasks. Furthermore, the hypothesized damage affects the processing components that carry out the task rather than a distinct central executive.

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