Planning following stroke: a relational complexity approach using the Tower of London
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Planning on the 4-disk version of the Tower of London (TOL4) was examined in stroke patients and unimpaired controls. Overall TOL4 solution scores indicated impaired planning in the frontal stroke but not non-frontal stroke patients. Consistent with the claim that processing the relations between current states, intermediate states, and goal states is a key process in planning, the domain-general relational complexity metric was a good indicator of the experienced difficulty of TOL4 problems. The relational complexity metric shared variance with task-specific metrics of moves to solution and search depth. Frontal stroke patients showed impaired planning compared to controls on problems at all three complexity levels, but at only two of the three levels of moves to solution, search depth and goal ambiguity. Non-frontal stroke patients showed impaired planning only on the most difficult quaternary-relational and high search depth problems. An independent measure of relational processing (viz., Latin square task) predicted TOL4 solution scores after controlling for stroke status and location, and executive processing (Trail Making Test). The findings suggest that planning involves a domain-general capacity for relational processing that depends on the frontal brain regions.
Frontiers in Human Neuroscience
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Psychology and Cognitive Sciences not elsewhere classified