This study assessed the clinical utility of contrast sensitivity (CS) relative to attention, executive function, and visuospatial abilities for predicting driving safety in participants with Parkinson's disease (PD). Twenty-five, non-demented PD patients completed measures of contrast sensitivity, visuospatial skills, executive functions, and attention. All PD participants also underwent a formal on-road driving evaluation. Of the 25 participants, 11 received a marginal or unsafe rating on the road test. Poorer driving performance was associated with worse performance on measures of CS, visuospatial constructions, set shifting, and attention. While impaired driving was associated with a range of cognitive and visual abilities, only a composite measure of executive functioning and visuospatial abilities, and not CS or attentional skills, predicted driving performance. These findings suggest that neuropsychological tests, which are multifactorial in nature and require visual perception and visual spatial judgments are the most useful screening measures for hazardous driving in PD patients.
Contrast sensitivity; Executive function; Visuospatial; Activities of daily living
The serial position effect shows that two interrelated cognitive processes underlie immediate recall of a supraspan word list. The current study used item response theory (IRT) methods to determine whether the serial position effect poses a threat to the construct validity of immediate list recall as a measure of verbal episodic memory. Archival data were obtained from a national sample of 4,212 volunteers aged 28–84 in the Midlife Development in the United States study. Telephone assessment yielded item-level data for a single immediate recall trial of the Rey Auditory Verbal Learning Test (RAVLT). Two parameter logistic IRT procedures were used to estimate item parameters and the Q1 statistic was used to evaluate item fit. A two-dimensional model better fit the data than a unidimensional model, supporting the notion that list recall is influenced by two underlying cognitive processes. IRT analyses revealed that 4 of the 15 RAVLT items (1, 12, 14, and 15) were misfit (p < .05). Item characteristic curves for items 14 and 15 decreased monotonically, implying an inverse relationship between the ability level and the probability of recall. Elimination of the four misfit items provided better fit to the data and met necessary IRT assumptions. Performance on a supraspan list learning test is influenced by multiple cognitive abilities; failure to account for the serial position of words decreases the construct validity of the test as a measure of episodic memory and may provide misleading results. IRT methods can ameliorate these problems and improve construct validity.
Learning and memory; Assessment; Statistical methods
The Effort Index (EI) of the Repeatable Battery for the Assessment of Neuropsychological Status (RBANS) was developed to identify inadequate effort. Although researchers have examined its validity, the reliability of the EI has not been evaluated. The current study examined the temporal stability of the EI across 1 year in two independent samples of older adults. One sample consisted of 445 cognitively intact older adults (mean age = 72.89; 59% having 12–15 years of education) and the second sample consisted of 51 individuals diagnosed with amnestic Mild Cognitive Impairment (mean age = 82.41; 41% having 12–15 years of education). For both samples, the EI was found to have low stability (Spearman's ρ = .32–.36). When participants were divided into those whose EI stayed stable or improved versus those whose EI worsened (i.e., declining effort) on retesting, it was observed that individuals with lower baseline RBANS Total scores tended to worsen on the EI across time. Overall, the findings suggest low temporal stability of the EI in two geriatric samples. In particular, individuals with poorer cognition at baseline could present with poorer effort across time. These findings also suggest the need to further examine the temporal stability of other effort measures.
Malingering/symptom validity testing; Elderly/geriatrics/aging; Mild cognitive impairment
Individuals with substance use disorders (SUDs) commonly report lapses in prospective memory (PM) in their daily lives; however, our understanding of the profile and predictors of laboratory-based PM deficits in SUDs and their associations with everyday PM failures is still very preliminary. The current study examined these important questions using well-validated measures of self-report and laboratory-based PM in a mixed cohort of 53 SUD individuals at treatment entry and 44 healthy adults. Consistent with prior research, the SUD group endorsed significantly more self-cued and environmentally based PM failures in their daily lives. Moreover, the SUD group demonstrated significantly lower time-based PM performance, driven largely by cue detection errors. The effect of SUDs on PM was particularly strong among participants with fewer years of education. Within the SUD cohort, time-based PM was correlated with clinical measures assessing executive functions, retrospective memory, and psychomotor speed. Importantly, time-based PM was uniquely associated with elevated PM failures in daily lives of the SUD participants, independent of current affective distress and other neurocognitive deficits. Findings suggest that individuals with SUD are vulnerable to deficits in PM, which may in turn increase their risk for poorer everyday functioning outcomes (e.g., treatment non-compliance).
Episodic memory; Polydrug abuse; Drug rehabilitation; Activities of daily living; Neuropsychological assessment
The Iowa Gambling Task (IGT) is assumed to measure executive functioning, but this has not been empirically tested by means of both convergent and discriminant validity. We used structural equation modeling (SEM) to test whether the IGT is an executive function (EF) task (convergent validity) and whether it is not related to other neuropsychological domains (discriminant validity). Healthy community-dwelling participants (N = 214) completed a comprehensive neuropsychological battery. We analyzed the conventional IGT metric and three alternative metrics based on the overall difference of advantageous minus disadvantageous choices made during the last 60 IGT responses and advantageous minus disadvantageous choices based on two specific decks of cards (D minus A). An a priori six-factor hierarchical model of neuropsychological functioning was confirmed with SEM. Attention and processing speed were grouped as “non-associative” factors. Fluency, executive functioning, visual learning/memory, and verbal learning/memory were grouped as higher-level “associative” factors. Of the non-associative factors, attention, but not speed, predicted IGT performance. When each associative factor was entered along with attention, only EF improved the model fit and that was only for metrics based on trials 41–100. SEM indicates metrics based on trails 1–100 are influenced by attention, and metrics based on trails 41–100 are influenced by attention and EF. Its associative strength with attention is twice that of EF. Conceptually, the IGT is a multi-trait task involving novel problem-solving and attentional domains to a greater extent, and executive functioning to a lesser extent.
Iowa Gambling Task; Decision-making; Executive function; Neuropsychological evaluation; Structural equation modeling
Formulae to estimate premorbid memory functioning in a sample of cognitively intact older adults have been developed. These formulae were validated in a small sample of patients with amnestic Mild Cognitive Impairment. However, further validation is clearly needed. The current study applied these formulae to a sample of 1,059 patients referred to a dementia clinic and compared the premorbid estimates of memory functioning with current memory abilities. Large and statistically significant differences were observed in the current sample, with premorbid memory scores exceeding current memory scores. Although some cautions should be observed when using these estimates clinically, growing support for these estimates of premorbid memory abilities may aid clinicians in determining change across time in older patients.
Predicting cognition; Learning and memory; Assessment
Use of normative data stratified by education may result in misclassification of African American older adults because reading ability, an estimate of educational attainment, is lower than reported years of education for some African American elders. This study examined the contribution of reading ability versus education to neuropsychological test performance in 86 community-dwelling African American elders ages 56–91 with 8–18 years of education. Hierarchical multiple regression analyses revealed that reading ability, but not education, was significantly associated with performances on the Trail Making Test, Controlled Oral Word Association Test, Animal Naming, Digit Span, and the Stroop test. Reading ability was not significantly related to performances on measures of memory. Medium to large effect sizes (Cohen's d = 0.58–1.41) were found when comparing mean performances on neuropsychological measures in groups with low versus high reading scores. Results indicate that reading ability contributes beyond educational attainment to performances on some neuropsychological measures among African American elders. These findings have implications for reducing misclassification among minority populations through the use of appropriate normative data.
Assessment; Elderly; Geriatrics; Aging; Norms; Normative studies
This study examined the association between recent trends in CD4 and viral loads and cognitive test performance with the expectation that recent history could predict cognitive performance. Eighty-three human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected patients with a mean CD4 count of 428 copies/ml were examined in this study (62% with undetectable plasma viral load [PVL]). We investigated the relationships between nadir CD4 cell count, 1-year trends in immunologic function/PVLs, and cognitive performance across several domains using linear regression models. Nadir CD4 cell count was predictive of current executive function (p = .004). One year clinical history for CD4 cell counts and/or PVLs were predictive of executive function, attention/working memory, and learning/memory measures (p < .05). Models that combined recent clinical history trends and nadir CD4 cell counts suggested that recent clinical trends were more important in predicting current cognitive performance for all domains except executive function. This research suggests that recent CD4 and viral load history is an important predictor of current cognitive function across several cognitive domains. If validated, clinical variables and cognitive dysfunction models may improve our understanding of the dynamic relationships between disease evolution and progression and CNS involvement.
HIV; Cognition; Neuropsychology; Executive function; Recent clinical history
The Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) screen was developed as a brief instrument to identify mild cognitive impairment and dementia among older individuals. To date, limited information is available regarding the neuroimaging signatures associated with performance on the scale, or the relationship between the MoCA and more comprehensive cognitive screening measures. The present study examined performances on the MoCA among 111 non-clinical older adults (ages 51–85) enrolled in a prospective study of cognitive aging. Participants were administered the MoCA, Mini-Mental State Exam (MMSE), and the Repeatable Battery for the Assessment of Neuropsychological Status (RBANS). A subset of participants (N = 69) underwent structural 3 T magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to define the volumes of total frontal gray matter, total hippocampus, T2-weighted subcortical hyperintensities (SH), and total brain volume. The results revealed significant correlations between the total score on the MoCA and total score on the RBANS and MMSE, though the strength of the correlations was more robust between the MoCA and the RBANS. Modest correlations between individual subscales of the MoCA and neuroimaging variables were evident, but no patterns of shared variance emerged between the MoCA total score and neuroimaging indices. In contrast, total brain volume correlated significantly with total score on the RBANS. These results suggest that additional studies are needed to define the significance of MoCA scores relative to brain integrity among an older population.
Mild cognitive impairment; Neuroimaging (structural)
The Boston Naming Test is one of the most widely used neuropsychological instruments; yet, there has been limited use of modern psychometric methods to investigate its properties at the item level. The current study used Item response theory to examine each item's difficulty and discrimination properties, as well as the test's measurement precision across the range of naming ability. Participants included 300 consecutive referrals to the outpatient neuropsychology service at Mayo Clinic in Florida. Results showed that successive items do not necessarily reflect a monotonic increase in psychometric difficulty, some items are inadequate to distinguish individuals at various levels of naming ability, multiple items provide redundant psychometric information, and measurement precision is greatest for persons within a low-average range of ability. These findings may be used to develop short forms, improve reliability in future test versions by replacing psychometrically poor items, and analyze profiles of intra-individual variability.
Boston Naming Test; Item response theory; Item difficulty; Item discriminability
Questions have been raised about whether poor performance on memory tasks by individuals with major depressive disorder (MDD) might be the result of poor or variable effort or disease-related disruption of neural circuits supporting memory functions. The present study examined performance on a measure of task engagement and on an auditory memory task among 45 patients with MDD (M age = 47.82, SD = 19.55) relative to 32 healthy controls (HC; M age = 51.03, SD = 22.09). One-hundred percent of HC and MDD volunteers performed above the threshold for adequate effort on a formal measure of task engagement. The MDD subjects performed significantly more poorly than the HC subjects on an auditory learning and memory test. The present results suggest that auditory memory difficulties do occur among those with MDD and that decrements in performance in this group may be related to factors other than lack of effort.
Depression; Malingering/symptom validity testing; Learning and memory
According to the multi-process theory of prospective memory (ProM), time-based tasks rely more heavily on strategic processes dependent on prefrontal systems than do event-based tasks. Given the prominent frontostriatal pathophysiology of HIV infection, one would expect HIV-infected individuals to demonstrate greater deficits in time-based versus event-based ProM. However, the two prior studies examining this question have produced variable results. We evaluated this hypothesis in 143 individuals with HIV infection and 43 demographically similar seronegative adults (HIV−) who completed the research version of the Memory for Intentions Screening Test, which yields parallel subscales of time- and event-based ProM. Results showed main effects of HIV serostatus and cue type, but no interaction between serostatus and cue. Planned pair-wise comparisons showed a significant effect of HIV on time-based ProM and a trend-level effect on event-based ProM that was driven primarily by the subset of participants with HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders. Nevertheless, time-based ProM was more strongly correlated with measures of executive functions, attention/working memory, and verbal fluency in HIV-infected persons. Although HIV-associated deficits in time- and event-based ProM appear to be of comparable severity, the cognitive architecture of time-based ProM may be more strongly influenced by strategic monitoring and retrieval processes.
AIDS dementia complex; Episodic memory; Executive functions; Neuropsychological assessment
The Driving Scenes test of the new Neuropsychological Assessment Battery (NAB; [Stern, R.A., & White, T. (2003a). Neuropsychological Assessment Battery. Lutz, FL: Psychological Assessment Resources, Inc.]) measures several aspects of visual attention thought to be important for driving ability. The current study examined the relationship between scores on the Driving Scenes test and on-road driving performance on a standardized driving test. Healthy participants performed significantly better on the Driving Scenes test than did very mildly demented participants. A correlation of 0.55 was found between the brief, office-based Driving Scenes test and the 108-point on-road driving score. Furthermore, the Driving Scenes test scores differed significantly across the driving instructor’s three global ratings (safe, marginal, and unsafe), and results of a discriminant function analysis indicated that the Driving Scenes test correctly classified 66% of participants into these groups. Thus, the new NAB Driving Scenes test appears to have good ecological validity for real-world driving ability in normal and very mildly demented older adults.
Driving; Aging; Dementia; Neuropsychology; Attention; Visual
Although delirium is a common medical comorbidity with altered cognition as its defining feature, few publications have addressed the neuropsychological prodrome, profile, and recovery of patients tested during delirium. We characterize neuropsychological performance in 54 hemapoietic stem cell/bone marrow transplantation (BMT) patients shortly before, during, and after delirium and in BMT patients without delirium and 10 healthy adults. Patients were assessed prospectively before and after transplantation using a brief battery. BMT patients with delirium performed more poorly than comparisons and those without delirium on cross-sectional and trend analyses. Deficits were in expected areas of attention and memory, but also in psychomotor speed and learning. The patients with delirium did not return to normative “average” on any test during observation. Most tests showed a mild decline in the visit before delirium, a sharp decline with delirium onset, and variable performance in the following days. This study adds to the few investigations of neuropsychological performance surrounding delirium and provides targets for monitoring and early detection; Trails A and B, RBANS Coding, and List Recall may be useful for delirium assessment.
Bone marrow transplantation; Cognition; Cancer; Attention; Delirium
The estimation of premorbid abilities is an essential part of a neuropsychological evaluation, especially in neurodegenerative conditions. Although word pronunciation tests are one standard method for estimating the premorbid level, research suggests that these tests may not be valid in neurodegenerative diseases. Therefore, the current study sought to examine two estimates of premorbid intellect, the Wide Range Achievement Test (WRAT) Reading subtest and the Barona formula, in 93 patients with mild to moderate Huntington's disease (HD) to determine their utility and to investigate how these measures relate to signs and symptoms of disease progression. In 89% of participants, WRAT estimates were below the Barona estimates. WRAT estimates were related to worsening memory and motor functioning, whereas the Barona estimates had weaker relationships. Neither estimate was related to depression or functional capacity. Irregular word reading tests appear to decline with HD progression, whereas estimation methods based on demographic factors may be more robust but overestimate premorbid functioning.
Huntington's disease; movement disorders; basal ganglia; assessment; dementia
Progression of HIV/AIDS is frequently associated with frontal/subcortical dysfunction and mean reaction time (RT) slowing. Beyond group means, within-subject variability of RT has been found to be particularly sensitive to frontal/subcortical dysfunction in other populations. However, the possible relevance of RT variability to HIV/AIDS patients remains unknown. This study evaluated the relationships between RT variability and indicators such as neurocognitive, behavioral, and immunological status. A total of 46 HIV-positive adults on antiretroviral medication regimens were included in this study. Overall performance of this sample was poorer than normative means on measures of RT latency, RT variability, and traditional neurocognitive domains. Results demonstrated that the measures of RT variability were associated with global cognition, medication adherence rates, and peak immunological dysfunction, above and beyond the effects of RT latency. These preliminary findings suggest that measures of RT variability may provide enhanced sensitivity to neurocognitive disease burden in HIV/AIDS relative to more traditional measures of mean RT or cognitive function.
AIDS; Cognitive ability; Medication adherence; Immunological status; Continuous Performance Test; CPT-II
Recent studies suggest that older human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected adults are at particular risk for HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders (HAND), including dementia. Deficits in attention/working memory are posited to play a central role in the development of HAND among older adults. The aim of the present study was to examine the possible protective benefits of spontaneous strategy use during a visual working memory task in 46 older and 42 younger adults infected with HIV. Results revealed a significant interaction between age and strategy use, with older adults who used a meta-cognitive strategy demonstrating superior working memory performance versus non-strategy users. This effect was not observed in the younger HIV-infected sample and was not better explained by possible confounding factors, such as education, comorbid medical conditions, or HIV disease severity. Within the older group, strategy use was associated with better executive functions and higher estimated verbal intelligence. Findings from this study suggest that working memory declines in older HIV-infected adults are moderated by the use of higher-level mnemonic strategies and may inform cognitive neurorehabilitation efforts to improve cognitive and everyday functioning outcomes in older persons living with HIV infection.
Human immunodeficiency virus; Working memory; Aging; Strategies; Neuropsychology
There has been a relative absence of studies that have examined the neuropsychological profiles of potential lung transplant candidates. Neuropsychological data are presented for 134 patients with end-stage pulmonary disease who were being evaluated as potential candidates for lung transplantation. Neuropsychological test results indicated that a significantly greater proportion of the patients exhibited impaired performances on a number of Selective Reminding Test (SRT) tasks as compared to the expected population frequency distributions for these measures. The highest frequencies of impairment were observed on the SRT’s Immediate Free Recall (46.43%), Long-term Retrieval (41.67%), and Consistent Long-term Retrieval (51.19%) variables. On the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory-2 (MMPI-2)/Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory-Adolescent (MMPI-A), patients’ mean clinical profile revealed elevations on Scales 1 (Hypochondriasis) and 3 (Conversion Hysteria). This profile indicated that they were experiencing an array of symptomatology ranging from somatic complaints to lethargy and fatigue, and that they may have been functioning at a reduced level of efficiency. Findings are discussed in light of patients’ end-stage pulmonary disease and factors possibly contributing to their neuropsychological test performances. Implications for clinical practice and future research are also provided.
Neuropsychology; Neurocognitive; Pulmonary disease; End-stage; Lung transplant
The CLOX is a clock drawing test used to screen for cognitive impairment in older adults, but there is limited normative data for this measure. This study presents normative data for the CLOX derived from a diverse sample of 585 community-dwelling older adults with complete cognitive data at baseline and 4-year follow-up. Participants with evidence of baseline impairment or substantial 4-year decline on the Mini-Mental State Examination were excluded from the normative sample. Spontaneous clock drawing (CLOX1) and copy (CLOX2) performances were stratified by age group and reading ability from the Wide Range Achievement Test, 3rd edition (WRAT-3). Lowest mean CLOX scores were observed for the oldest age group (75+ years old) with the lowest WRAT-3 reading scores. For all groups, average scores were higher for CLOX2 than CLOX1. These normative data may be helpful to clinicians and researchers for interpreting CLOX performance in older adults with diverse levels of reading ability.
Normative data; Clock drawing test; Reading ability; Older adults; Aging
Research in Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) generally utilizes clinical samples or children with comorbid psychiatric diagnoses. Findings indicated that children with ADHD experience academic underachievement and poor performance on measures of response inhibition (RI). Less is known, about the neuropsychological profile of typically developing children with ADHD. The aim of the current study was twofold: (1) determine if academic skills and RI were impaired in typically developing children with ADHD-combined subtype (ADHD-C) and (2) determine to what extent RI may predict academic abilities. Children with ADHD-C did not differ on any academic domain from controls. Children with ADHD-C performed more poorly than controls on RI measures. Regression analyses suggest that Written Expression ability was significantly influenced by RI. No other academic domain was related to RI. Results suggest that children with ADHD-C may experience impairments in RI despite adequate academic functioning. Impaired RI is not solely responsible for difficulties found in academic skills in ADHD-C.
ADHD; Achievement; Executive functions; Response inhibition
The majority of research on neurobehavioral functioning among children with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is based on samples comprised primarily (or exclusively) of boys. Although functional impairment is well established, available research has yet to specify a neuropsychological profile distinct to girls with ADHD. The purpose of this study was to examine performance within four components of executive function (EF) in contemporaneously recruited samples of girls and boys with ADHD. Fifty-six children with ADHD (26 girls) and 90 controls (42 girls), ages 8–13, were administered neuropsychological tests emphasizing response inhibition, response preparation, working memory, and planning/shifting. There were no significant differences in age or SES between boys or girls with ADHD or their sex-matched controls; ADHD subtype distribution did not differ by sex. Compared with controls, children with ADHD showed significant deficits on all four EF components. Girls and boys with ADHD showed similar patterns of deficit on tasks involving response preparation and working memory; however, they manifested different patterns of executive dysfunction on tasks related to response inhibition and planning. Girls with ADHD showed elevated motor overflow, while boys with ADHD showed greater impairment during conscious, effortful response inhibition. Girls, but not boys with ADHD, showed impairment in planning. There were no differences between ADHD subtypes on any EF component. These findings highlight the importance of studying boys and girls separately (as well as together) when considering manifestations of executive dysfunction in ADHD.
Attention; Response control; Working memory; Inhibition; Planning; Childhood; Development
The Dementia Rating Scale (DRS) is a widely used measure of global cognition, with age- and education-corrected norms derived from a cross-sectional sample of adults participating in Mayo's Older Americans Normative Studies (MOANS). In recent years, however, studies have indicated that cross-sectional normative samples of older adults represent an admixture of individuals who are indeed cognitively normal (i.e., disease-free) and individuals with incipient neurodegenerative disease. Theoretically, the “contamination” of cross-sectional normative samples with cases of preclinical dementia can lead to underestimation of the test mean and overestimation of the variance, thus reducing the clinical utility of the norms. Robust norming, in which dementia cases are removed from the normative cohort through longitudinal follow-up, is an alternative approach to norm development. The current study presents a reappraisal of the original MOANS DRS norms, provides robust and expanded norms based on a sample of 894 adults age 55 and over, and critically evaluates the benefits of robust norming.
Dementia Rating Scale; DRS; Alzheimer's disease; Robust; Norms
Differences in the memory characteristics of patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD), Huntington's disease (HD), and Parkinson's disease (PD) were investigated with tests that assess learning and retention of words, line-drawn objects, and locations. Large groups of AD, HD, and PD patients were administered the Hopkins Verbal Learning Test-Revised (HVLT-R) and the Hopkins Board (HB). Eight learning and memory measures were subjected to discriminant function analysis. A 91% classification accuracy was achieved for the separation of cortical and subcortical dementias and 79% accuracy for the discrimination of the three groups. The delayed recall of items was the best discriminator. Receiver-operating curve analysis indicated up to 90% sensitivity and 90% specificity in differentiating the three diseases using the discriminant scores. Individual learning and memory measures of the HVLT-R and the HB provided very high sensitivity and specificity in distinguishing cortical versus subcortical dementias and modest accuracy in separating the two subcortical diseases.
Episodic memory; Alzheimer's disease; Huntington's disease; Parkinson's disease
The Repeatable Battery for the Assessment of Neuropsychological Status (RBANS) has demonstrated adequate sensitivity in detecting cognitive impairment in a number of neuropsychiatric conditions, including Alzheimer's disease. However, its ability to detect milder cognitive deficits in the elderly has not been examined. The current study examined the clinical utility of the RBANS by comparing two groups: Patients with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI; n = 72) and cognitively intact peers (n = 71). Significant differences were observed on the RBANS Total score, 3 of the 5 Indexes, and 6 of the 12 subtests, with individuals with MCI performing worse than the comparison participants. Specificity was very good, but sensitivity ranged from poor to moderate. Areas under the receiver operating characteristic curves for the RBANS Immediate and Delayed Memory Indexes and the Total Scale score were adequate. Although significant differences were observed between groups and the areas under the curves were adequate, the lower sensitivity values of the RBANS suggests that caution should be used when diagnosing conditions such as MCI.
Mild Cognitive Impairment; Diagnostic accuracy; Repeatable Battery for the Assessment of Neuropsychological Status