Executive and behavioral characterization of chronic exposure to armed conflict among War Victims and Veterans

Sandra Trujillo, Natalia Trujillo, Stella Valencia, Juan Esteban Ugarriza, Alberto Acosta Mesas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Executive and cognitive processes constitute an important mechanism to respond to different social demands that people experiment in everyday life. Neuropsychological approaches have evaluated these mechanisms in people with brain injury, mental and behavioral disorders, and recently, in nonclinical populations such as war/armed conflict ex-combatants. Particularly, the long history of Colombian armed conflict allows us to characterize how ex-combatants exposed to armed conflict events identify and learn from social cues to select adaptive and efficient responses. The present study characterizes behavioral and neuropsychological performance in 111 subjects, including victims, ex-combatants, and controls, who were chronically exposed to armed conflict in Colombia. We evaluated cognitive processes such as attention, social categorization, inhibitory control, and cognitive flexibility through computerized and neuropsychological instruments. Results revealed that: (a) ex-combatants had lower performance in cognitive scales compared with the other 2 groups; (b) victims described shorter RTs than ex-combatants and nonexposed controls in attentional task; and (c) nonexposed controls were faster to respond to cognitive flexibility tasks respect to the other 2 groups. We interpreted that differences in the response pattern of ex-combatants and victims are associated with their exposure to armed conflict experiences. We also consider that differential performed among the exposed group is associated with their role in the conflict. We expect in the future to enhance the comprehension of these patterns and contribute to design and implement evidence-based psychological therapies that improve their abilities to adapt to the demands of this social context and, consequently, build peace in those communities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)312-324
Number of pages13
JournalPeace and Conflict
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Political Science and International Relations


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