Predicting Academic Deficits in Children Using Cognitive Profiles

Dr. Scott Decker
University of South Carolina


The purpose of the research project is to investigate the effects of traumatic brain injuries (TBI) on WJ-IV Tests of Cognitive Ability and Achievement and electrophysiological measures in school-age children. Specifically, the study aimed to assess cognitive and academic skills post-injury as measured by the Woodcock-Johnson 4thEdition (WJ-IV). Furthermore, underlying neurophysiological effects of TBI were examined through QEEG to assess disruption in coherence, a measure of brain connectivity. Finally, the study aimed to investigate the relationship between coherence and cognitive and academic deficits as measured by the WJ-IV.


Originally, our study aimed to collect twenty-five children with a diagnosed TBI and twenty-five controls. We have collected thirty-two school-age children diagnosed with a TBI and twenty-one controls.

Analyses and Results

As a result of the diagnostic intake, equipment malfunction, and anxiety regarding EEG equipment that may have compromised neuropsychological performance, eleven children were excluded. Twenty-one children diagnosed with TBI were included to investigate four hypotheses. Participants fell between the ages of 7.5 and 19 years-old and the time since original injury ranged from three to thirty-six months.

Our first hypothesis compared the means of processing speed subtests and composite score to the WJ-IV normative sample mean. Results from the preliminary analyses did not find processing speed deficits on any processing speed or fluency subtests as measured by the WJ-IV, although the Math Facts Fluency subtest mean score fell in the low average range. Our second hypothesis examined generalized impairment across all WJ-IV subtests. We compared mean scores across all subtests to what would be expected in the general population using the PercentAbnormK program by Crawford et al. (2008). Results from this analysis found that the TBI group exhibited generalized impairment across all WJ-IV subtests administered below what would be expected of the general population. Our third hypothesis investigated EEG coherence in relation to previous childhood TBI literature. Results indicated that there were no significant deficits or surpluses in coherence in regions associated with childhood TBI; however, these regions (frontal and temporal) did produce the highest and lowest values. Finally, our fourth hypothesis investigated the relationship between EEG coherence and the processing speed composite score (Gs). After variables were reduced, component variables in both the Alpha and Beta bands were able to predict Gs scores. Specifically, greater Alpha coherence between frontal and right temporal regions and greater Beta between frontal and occipital and posterior temporal regions was related to greater processing speed.


We have been highly productive with using the generous resources from the WMF to conduct research. As a result of WMF research funding, we have conducted the following research activities:

  1. Poster presentation presented at the National Association of School Psychologists Conference: Results Poster [.pdf] or Results Powerpoint Presentation [.pptx]
  2. Symposium presentation given at the South Carolina Psychological Association Academic day,
  3. Completed Masters Thesis for Joe Ferraracci, and
  4. Submitted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal (citation below).

Ferraracci, J., Bridges, R. M., Decker, S.L., Moore, R.D., QEEG correlates of cognitive processing speed in children with traumatic brain injuries. Clinical EEG and Neuroscience (submitted 5/2/2018).

Page last updated 12:06 PM, January 31, 2024