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Acquired brain injury results in specific impairment of planning knowledge


Assessment of executive functions, such as planning, often relies on tasks such as the Tower of Hanoi, which assess plan execution but not planning knowledge. Survivors of brain injury may perform within normal ranges on plan execution tasks yet have profound deficits in planning knowledge required for daily life. We examined survivors of brain injury and non-injured participants on an errand-planning task, to assess planning knowledge, and on a reading comprehension task, to distinguish inference-based knowledge of planning versus physical cause and effect. Errand-planning performance discriminated survivors of brain injury from non-injured participants. Additionally, survivors with higher scores performed similarly to non-injured participants on both inference tasks, whereas survivors with lower scores did not discriminate these two types of inferences. Findings suggest that the errand-planning task may be a useful measure of planning comprehension for survivors of brain injury and suggest a cognitive retraining strategy.

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