Cognitive neuroscience researchers have hypothesized that context-dependent and context-independent response selection is associated with the left and right frontal lobe, respectively, in right-handed adult males. Patients with left frontal lobe lesions show context-independent reasoning in a cognitive bias task (CBT), while those with right frontal lesions show context-dependent reasoning. Young children show more context-independent responses in a modified CBT (mCBT), while adolescents and adults show more context-dependent responses. We investigated the cognitive bias of right-handed children with unilateral frontal lobe lesions/epileptic foci to explore the plasticity of lateralization in the frontal lobes. The study included eight children with left frontal lobe lesions/epileptic foci (LLF) and four children with right frontal lobe lesions/epileptic foci (RLF). Twenty-three right-handed age-matched males served as controls. A computer presented version of the original card-choice task that was simplified and modified for children was used (mCBT). Simple visual stimuli differed dichotomously in shape, color, number, and shading. A target object presented alone was followed by two choices from which subjects made selection based on preference. Considering all four characteristics, the degree of similarity between the target and the subjects’ choice was scored for 30 trials. A high score indicated a context-dependent response selection bias and a low score indicated a context-independent bias. The RLF subjects had a higher converted score (mean: 26.8±2.2), while LLF subjects showed a lower converted score (mean: 7.75±6.3). There were highly significant differences between LLF subjects and the other groups (P<0.001 vs. controls or RLF subjects). No significant correlations were observed between the converted scores and the age at onset, time since insult, or IQ in either LLF or RLF subjects. These findings suggest that the lateralization of frontal lobe function elicited by mCBT is fundamental and independent of language lateralization, rather than secondary to it. Furthermore, these findings also indicate that the timetable for the development of lateralized frontal lobe functions depends upon biologic factors.
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Accepted: November 16, 2004
Received in revised form: October 1, 2004
Received: June 28, 2004
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