Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society

Perception and estimation of time in long-term survivors of childhood posterior fossa tumors

a1 Department of Psychology, The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto
a2 Research Institute, The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto
a3 Division of Hematology/Oncology, The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto
a4 Department of Psychology, University of Toronto
a5 Department of Surgery, University of Toronto
a6 Department of Pediatrics, University of Toronto


We examined short duration perception (400 ms), long duration estimation (30 and 60 min), and spatiotemporal estimation in long-term survivors of childhood cerebellar tumors with a mean time since diagnosis of 14.2 years. Groups of individuals with tumors treated with surgery only (astrocytoma, N = 20) were compared to those with tumors treated with surgery, focal radiation, and craniospinal radiation (medulloblastoma, N = 20), and to age- matched controls (N = 40). Childhood lesions of the cerebellum produced enduring deficits in short-duration perception, but spared the ability to functionally estimate long durations, regardless of the pathology or treatment of the tumor. Evidence did not support any functional recovery over time of the cerebellar system that underlies short-duration perception. Younger age at treatment was not a protective factor. Although no group differences were present in the functional measures of long-duration estimation, tumor-related prospective memory deficits interfered with the ability to produce long-duration prospective estimates. The utilization of sensory and somatomotor information to refine real-world spatiotemporal estimates was compromised in the medulloblastoma group only. (JINS, 2000, 6, 682–692.)

(Received July 5 1999)
(Revised November 2 1999)
(Accepted November 4 1999)

Key Words: Time perception; Duration estimation; Cerebellum; Plasticity; Medulloblastoma; Astrocytoma; Developmental.

c1 Reprint requests to: Ross Hetherington, The Hospital for Sick Children, 555 University Avenue, Toronto, ON M5G 1X8, Canada. E-mail: