Neuropsychological outcomes in children and adolescents following anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis

Alison Wilkinson-Smith, Laura S. Blackwell, Robyn A. Howarth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Anti-N-methyl-d-aspartate receptor encephalitis (ANMDARE) is a neurologic disorder that is becoming more recognized in children and adolescents. Early studies suggested that patients typically recover well, but more recent data suggests that children may experience persistent cognitive deficits, especially in verbal memory and executive functioning. The aims of this study are to evaluate areas of impairment and to characterize neuropsychological outcomes in pediatric patients with ANMDARE. This was a multi-centered retrospective chart review. We identified 23 pediatric patients who were, on average, 18.5 months from diagnosis. Patients underwent comprehensive neuropsychological assessment, including measures of intellectual functioning, memory, reading, verbal fluency, visuomotor skills, attention, and working memory. Caregiver ratings and information regarding resource utilization were also collected (e.g., formal school services, outpatient rehabilitation, psychological support). Neuropsychological impairment index (NPI) scores were calculated for each patient. Neuropsychological outcomes highlighted variability across individuals. Memory and fine motor dexterity were particularly impacted. Almost 90% of caregivers reported more concerns than average on at least one measure of emotional-behavioral, adaptive, or executive functioning. More than two-thirds of the sample were considered impaired based on NPI scores on performance measures. More than three quarters of the sample received outpatient intervention, most often consisting of school-based services. Our findings provide additional quantitative evidence that pediatric patients recovering from ANMDARE demonstrate ongoing cognitive concerns. While most patients experience remarkable recoveries following appropriate diagnosis and treatment, ongoing monitoring and support is recommended over time for these patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)212-223
Number of pages12
JournalChild Neuropsychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2022


  • Anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis
  • neuropsychology
  • outcomes
  • pediatric

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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