Social communication in young children with traumatic brain injury: Relations with corpus callosum morphometry

Linda Ewing-Cobbs, Mary R. Prasad, Paul Swank, Larry Kramer, Donna Mendez, Amery Treble, Christa Payne, Jocelyne Bachevalier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The purpose of the present investigation was to characterize the relations of specific social communication behaviors, including joint attention, gestures, and verbalization, with surface area of midsagittal corpus callosum (CC) subregions in children who sustained traumatic brain injury (TBI) before 7 years of age. Participants sustained mild (n=. 10) or moderate-severe (n=. 26) noninflicted TBI. The mean age at injury was 33.6 months; mean age at MRI was 44.4 months. The CC was divided into seven subregions. Relative to young children with mild TBI, those with moderate-severe TBI had smaller surface area of the isthmus. A semi-structured sequence of social interactions between the child and an examiner was videotaped and coded for specific social initiation and response behaviors. Social responses were similar across severity groups. Even though the complexity of their language was similar, children with moderate-severe TBI used more gestures than those with mild TBI to initiate social overtures; this may indicate a developmental lag or deficit as the use of gestural communication typically diminishes after age 2. After controlling for age at scan and for total brain volume, the correlation of social interaction response and initiation scores with the midsagittal surface area of the CC regions was examined. For the total group, responding to a social overture using joint attention was significantly and positively correlated with surface area of all regions, except the rostrum. Initiating joint attention was specifically and negatively correlated with surface area of the anterior midbody. Use of gestures to initiate a social interaction correlated significantly and positively with surface area of the anterior and posterior midbody. Social response and initiation behaviors were selectively related to regional callosal surface areas in young children with TBI. Specific brainbehavior relations indicate early regional specialization of anterior and posterior CC for social communication.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)247-254
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Developmental Neuroscience
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Brain injury
  • Corpus callosum
  • Gesture
  • Joint attention
  • Social communication
  • Young children

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Developmental Biology


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