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1.  Use of the MoCA in Detecting Early Alzheimer's Disease in a Spanish-Speaking Population with Varied Levels of Education 
Performance on the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) has been demonstrated to be dependent on the educational level. The purpose of this study was to identify how to best adjust MoCA scores and to identify MoCA items most sensitive to cognitive decline in incipient Alzheimer's disease (AD) in a Spanish-speaking population with varied levels of education.
We analyzed data from 50 Spanish-speaking participants. We examined the pattern of diagnosis-adjusted MoCA residuals in relation to education and compared four alternative score adjustments using bootstrap sampling. Sensitivity and specificity analyses were performed for the raw and each adjusted score. The interval reliability of the MoCA as well as item discrimination and item validity were examined.
We found that with progressive compensation added for those with lower education, unexplained residuals decreased and education-residual association moved to zero, suggesting that more compensation was necessary to better adjust MoCA scores in those with a lower educational level. Cube copying, sentence repetition, delayed recall, and orientation were most sensitive to cognitive impairment due to AD.
A compensation of 3-4 points was needed for <6 years of education. Overall, the Spanish version of the MoCA maintained adequate psychometric properties in this population.
PMCID: PMC4376923  PMID: 25873930
Montreal Cognitive Assessment; Spanish-speaking population; Education; Dementia; Mild cognitive impairment; Alzheimer's disease; Latino population; Hispanic population; Screening
2.  fMRI of syntactic processing in typically developing children: structural correlates in the inferior frontal gyrus 
Development of syntactic processing was examined to evaluate maturational processes including left language lateralization functions and increased specialization of brain regions important for syntactic processing. We utilized multimodal methods, including indices of brain activity from fMRI during a syntactic processing task, cortical thickness measurements from structural MRI, and neuropsychological measures. To evaluate hypotheses about increasing lateralization and specialization with development, we examined relationships between cortical thickness and magnitude and spatial activation extent within the left inferior frontal gyrus (IFG) and its right hemisphere homologue. We predicted that increased activation in the left and decreased activation in the right IFG would be associated with increased syntactic proficiency. As predicted, a more mature pattern of increased thickness in the right pars triangularis was associated with decreased activation intensity and extent in the right IFG. These findings suggest a maturational shift towards decreased involvement of the right IFG for syntactic processing. Better syntactic skills were associated with increased activation in the left IFG independent from age, suggesting increased specialization of the left IFG with increased proficiency. Overall, our findings show relationships between structural and functional neurodevelopment that co-occur with improved syntactic processing in critical language regions of the IFG in typically developing children.
PMCID: PMC3129989  PMID: 21743820
Syntax; language; typical development; lateralization; fMRI; multimodal
3.  Focus on: Structural and Functional Brain Abnormalities in Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders 
Alcohol Research & Health  2011;34(1):121-132.
Children exposed to alcohol prenatally can experience significant deficits in cognitive and psychosocial functioning as well as alterations in brain structure and function related to alcohol’s teratogenic effects. These impairments are present both in children with fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) and in children with heavy in utero alcohol exposure who do not have facial dysmorphology required for the FAS diagnosis. Neuropsychological and behavioral studies have revealed deficits in most cognitive domains measured, including overall intellectual functioning, attention/working memory, executive skills, speed of processing, and academic skills in children and adolescents across the range of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD). As with neuropsychological studies, brain-imaging studies have detected differences in brain structure related to alcohol exposure in multiple brain systems and abnormalities in the white matter that connects these brain regions. Several studies have found relationships between these morphological differences and cognitive function, suggesting some clinical significance to the structural brain abnormalities. Concentrations of neurotransmitter metabolites within the brains of prenatally exposed children also appear to be altered, and functional imaging studies have identified significant differences in brain activation related to working memory, learning, and inhibitory control in children and adolescents with FASD.
PMCID: PMC3860550  PMID: 23580049
Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders; fetal alcohol syndrome; prenatal alcohol exposure; brain; brain function; brain structure; brain abnormalities; brain imaging studies; cognitive functioning; cognitive impairment; psychosocial functioning

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