Date of Award

Spring 5-2012

Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program

Applied Biopsychology



Major Professor

Dr. Kevin W. Greve

Second Advisor

Dr. Kevin J. Bianchini

Third Advisor

Dr. Gerald LaHoste

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Carl Weems

Fifth Advisor

Dr. Michelle Martel


A significant subset of mild traumatic brain injury (mild TBI) and chronic pain (CP) patients report, and sometimes show objective evidence of, persisting cognitive problems. Despite differences in injury mechanisms, there is considerable overlap in the types of persisting cognitive symptoms that are reported by the two populations. Psychogenic, rather than physiogenic, factors are thought to play an important role in the maintenance of these persisting symptoms. The current investigation examined the contributions somatization, depression, and anxiety had on an objective measure of “working attention.” In order to best elucidate the influences these psychological factors had on attentional performance, only individuals who passed well-validated and popular indicators of cognitive and self-report validity were included in the study. Two hundred and forty-nine individuals (n = 116 TBI; n = 133 CP) met the inclusionary criteria for the study. Psychological factors were assessed using Scales 1 (Hypochondriasis), 2 (Depression), 3 (Hysteria), and 7 (Psychasthenia) of the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory-II. “Working attention” was measured using the demographically-adjusted T-scores for the Working Memory and Processing Speed Indexes of the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale- 3. Results indicated that a high rate of psychological complications was observed in the mild TBI and CP groups but not the moderate-severe traumatic brain injury (M/S TBI) comparison group. Analysis indicated that psychological elevations were not significantly related to spontaneously-reported symptoms or working attention deficits for the mild TBI group but were for the CP and M/S TBI groups. The current results are important for understanding the psychological complications that may occur in individuals exhibiting persisting cognitive problems in these clinical populations.


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