Cognitive estimations as a measure of executive dysfunction in childhood epilepsy

William S. MacAllister, Marsha Vasserman, Kelly Coulehan, Ari F. Hall, H. Allison Bender

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Children and adolescents with epilepsy are known to demonstrate executive function deficits. Despite prior work that has shown that cognitive estimation tasks are sensitive to executive dysfunction in children, such tasks have not been studied in children with epilepsy. This is particularly important given the fact that executive tasks have heretofore shown poor ecological validity, and it has been speculated that estimation tasks may show stronger ecological validity than other executive tests. One hundred and thirteen clinically referred children and adolescents with epilepsy were included. The Biber Cognitive Estimations Test was sensitive to cognitive dysfunction, with about half showing impairments on this task in comparison to age-matched normative data; the most frequently impaired subscales were quantity estimation and time estimation. Moreover, the Biber Cognitive Estimation Test showed moderate correlations with not only overall intellectual functions and academic achievement but also other commonly administered tests of executive functions, including digit span, Trailmaking, and the Tower of London but not with the contingency naming test. Cognitive estimations were also modestly correlated with age of epilepsy onset but not other epilepsy-severity variables such as number of antiepilepsy drugs (AEDs) or seizure frequency. Unfortunately, the hypothesis that the Biber Cognitive Estimation Test would show strong ecological validity was not supported, as it showed weak relations with parent-reported executive function deficits. The significance and limitations of this investigation are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)65-80
Number of pages16
JournalChild Neuropsychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2 Jan 2016


  • Epilepsy
  • Estimation
  • Executive function


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