Neuropsychological Consequences of TBI

Cognitive consequences of TBI depend greatly on what regions of the brain were affected by the injury. Brain imaging may reveal injury to the Cerebral Cortex or other brain regions. The severity of the injury will also significantly affect what cognitive difficulties may be experienced. In general, cognitive deficits are greatest in the weeks and months following the brain injury, with improvements noted over time. Neuropsychological testing can be helpful in identifying cognitive strengths and weaknesses, clarifying how cognitive difficulties may impact work/school functioning, and/or monitoring changes over time.


Examples of TBI-related cognitive consequences include:

  • Trouble paying attention and concentrating
  • Feeling mentally “foggy” or confused
  • Slowed thinking speed
  • Learning and memory difficulties
  • Word-finding difficulties (trouble coming up with the right word)
  • Trouble understanding others
  • Problems with reading comprehension
  • Difficulty judging distances
  • Getting lost in familiar places
  • Trouble with complex tasks (e.g., multitasking, organizing, problem solving, completing multistep tasks)
  • Inability to understand one’s own impairments
  • Difficulties with complicated daily activities (e.g., managing the checkbook, driving)

Psychological Consequences of TBI

Emotional and behavioral difficulties following TBI can be a direct consequence of injury to the brain (if regions involved in emotional processing are affected), can result from difficulties coping with problems experienced following the brain injury, and/or can be associated with pre-existing emotional difficulties (e.g., problems with depression/anxiety prior to the TBI).

Research suggests that more than 50% of individuals who have sustained a brain injury may experience depression or other emotional difficulties (e.g., anxiety). Treatment for these emotional and behavioral difficulties typically includes medications and psychotherapy.

Examples of TBI-related psychological consequences include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Emotional Lability
  • Irritability, agitation
  • Anger
  • Apathy
  • Personality changes (e.g., becoming less or more talkative)
  • Difficulty understanding social norms
  • Behavioral disinhibition (e.g., saying the first thing that comes to mind, being sexually inappropriate)
  • Mania
  • Rigidity, inflexibility, perseveration (e.g., getting stuck on a topic)
  • Psychosis (i.e., hallucinations and/or delusions)