Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




The purpose of the current study was to examine social cognition in children with spina bifida and congenital hydrocephalus (SBH) and to determine whether deficits in these domains are associated with poor social competence, utilizing concepts from social cognitive neuroscience. To build upon extant literature, multi-method assessments, multi-informant data, and a developmental, biopsychosocial perspective were utilized. Distinct aspects of social competence, as defined by social performance, social skills, and social adjustment, were considered.

The current study was designed to investigate: (1) differences in social cognition between children and adolescents with SBH and the general population, (2) potential neuroanatomical predictors of social cognition for children and adolescents with SBH, (3) whether measures of social cognition are useful in predicting social competence in children and adolescents with SBH, and (4) whether developmental factors (i.e., age) need to be considered when addressing the association between social cognition and social competence in these children. Findings suggest that children and adolescent with SBH perform at a lower level of social cognitive functioning than typically developing youngsters. In addition, there is evidence that these impairments in social cognition are associated with poor social functioning. The findings vary based on the individual social cognitive and social competence variables of interest. Implications for future research efforts and clinical intervention are discussed.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.