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Poster B54

A Cognitive and Neural Framework for Cognitive Flexibility: Perspectives from Traumatic Brain Injury

Poster Session B - Sunday, April 14, 2024, 8:00 – 10:00 am EDT, Sheraton Hall ABC

Hayley O'Donnell1, Kiah Patel1, Denise Krch2, Nancy R. Lee1, Maria T. Schultheis1, John Medaglia1, Evangelia G. Chrysikou1; 1Drexel University, 2Kessler Foundation

Cognitive flexibility reflects our ability to respond to changes and obstacles in our environment with novel response strategies. Although this description is generally accepted among cognitive neuroscientists, the precise definition of cognitive flexibility, and its integration within other aspects of cognitive regulation, remains understudied. To address this question, we examined an alternative framework for cognitive flexibility that includes four proposed subfunctions—salience detection, inhibition, set-shifting, and creative thinking— and examined its validity using behavioral data from traumatic brain injury (TBI) patients and healthy control subjects. The neurological profile of TBI presents an opportunity to investigate potential dissociations between these proposed subfunctions of cognitive flexibility. Cognitive deficits of set-shifting and inhibition commonly follow a TBI, and severe injuries can result in salience detection impairments, whereas little deficits of creative thinking have been documented following a TBI. Patients with TBI and matched control participants, between 25 and 45 years old, completed six tasks measuring cognitive flexibility and each of its proposed subfunctions. The results revealed dissociable response profiles between the two groups. Additionally, TBI participants were significantly impaired on tasks specifically measuring executive functions (inhibition and set-shifting), and less impaired on tasks not reliant on increased PFC-mediation (salience detection and creative thinking). These findings offer support for the proposed alternative framework for cognitive flexibility and for the dissociation between cognitive flexibility and other cognitive processes.



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April 13–16  |  2024