Meta-analytic studies have shown that mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI) has relatively negligible effects on cognitive functioning at 90 or more days post-injury. Few studies have prospectively examined the effects of MTBI in acute physical trauma populations. This prospective, cohort study compared the cognitive performance of persons who sustained a spinal cord injury (SCI) and a co-occurring MTBI (N = 53) to persons who sustained an SCI alone (N = 64) between 26 and 76 days (mean = 46) post-injury. The presence of MTBI was determined based on acute medical record review using a standardized algorithm. Primary outcome measures were seven neuropsychological tests that evaluated visual, verbal, and working memory, perceptual reasoning, and processing speed that controlled for potential upper extremity impairment. Persons who sustained SCI with or without MTBI had lower than expected performance across all neuropsychological tests, on average about 1 SD below the mean. Analysis of covariance indicated that persons with MTBI did not evidence greater impairment on any neuropsychological test. The aggregated effect size (Cohen's d) was −0.16. The strongest predictors of neuropsychological test scores were education, race, history of learning problems, and days from injury to rehabilitation admission. MTBI did not predict performance on any neuropsychological test. These findings are consistent with other controlled studies that indicate a single MTBI has negligible long-term impacts on cognition.
Assessment; Forensic neuropsychology; Rehabilitation
Hypertension has adverse effects on cognition, can alter cerebral vasculature integrity, and is associated with the pathogenesis of dementia. Using meta-analysis, we correlated blood pressure to multiple cognitive domains among older adults free of clinical stroke and dementia. We identified 230 studies indexed in PubMed and PsycINFO relating blood pressure and cognition. After applying exclusion criteria, we selected n = 12 articles with n = 4,076 participants (age range 43–91 years). Meta-analysis yielded an association between blood pressure and episodic memory (r = −.18, p < .001) and between blood pressure and global cognition (r = −.07, p < .001). When limiting analyses to studies adjusting for vascular covariates (n = 8, n = 2,141), blood pressure was modestly related to global cognition (r = −.11, p < .001), attention (r = .14, p = .002), and episodic memory (r = −.20, p < .001) with a trend for language (r = −.22, p = .07). Findings underscore the need to manage blood pressure as a key prevention method in minimizing abnormal cognitive aging prior to the onset of clinical dementia.
Cardiovascular disease; Dementia; Learning and episodic memory; Executive functioning; Meta analysis
Although amyloid deposition remains a marker of the development of Alzheimer's disease, results linking amyloid and cognition have been equivocal. Twenty-five community-dwelling non-demented older adults were examined with 18F-flutemetamol, an amyloid imaging agent, and a cognitive battery, including an estimate of premorbid intellect and the Repeatable Battery for the Assessment of Neuropsychological Status (RBANS). In the first model, 18F-flutemetamol uptake significantly correlated with the Delayed Memory Index of the RBANS (r = −.51, p = .02) and premorbid intellect (r = .43, p = .03). In the second model, the relationship between 18F-flutemetamol and cognition was notably stronger when controlling for premorbid intellect (e.g., three of the five RBANS Indexes and its Total score significantly correlated with 18F-flutemetamol, r's = −.41 to −.58). Associations were found between amyloid-binding 18F-flutemetamol and cognitive functioning in non-demented older adults. These associations were greatest with delayed memory and stronger when premorbid intellect was considered, suggesting that cognitive reserve partly compensates for the symptomatic expression of amyloid pathology in community-dwelling elderly.
Amyloid; Neuroimaging; Neuropsychology; Alzheimer's disease; Premorbid intellect
Children with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) demonstrate increased response variability compared with controls, which is thought to be associated with deficits in attention regulation and response control that subsequently affect performance of more cognitively demanding tasks, such as reading. The present study examined response variability during a computerized simple reaction time (RT) task in 67 children. Ex-Gaussian analyses separated the response time distribution into normal (mu and sigma) and exponential (tau) components; the association of each with reading fluency was examined. Children with ADHD had significantly slower, more variable, and more skewed RTs compared with controls. After controlling for ADHD symptom severity, tau (but not mu or mean RT) was significantly associated with reduced reading fluency, but not with single word reading accuracy. These data support the growing evidence that RT variability, but not simply slower mean response speed, is the characteristic of youth with ADHD and that longer response time latencies (tau) may be implicated in the poorer academic performance associated with ADHD.
Attention; Dyslexia; Variability; Processing speed; Executive function; Ex-Gaussian analyses
The purpose of this study was to investigate the pattern of performance on letter and category fluency tests of individuals with mild cognitive impairment (MCI). Previous research has suggested that organization strategies, including “clustering” (i.e., groups of related words) and “switching” (i.e., shift from one cluster to another), are important for efficient verbal fluency performance. Participants were 25 individuals with single-domain amnestic MCI (aMCI), 49 with multidomain aMCI, 16 with non-amnestic MCI (naMCI), and 90 cognitively healthy older adults. Fluency performances were analyzed across two 30-s intervals for total words produced, cluster size, and switching. Analyses of variance (ANOVAs) with follow-up tests revealed that the single-domain aMCI group performed comparably with healthy controls on each dependent measure across both fluency tasks. In contrast, the multidomain aMCI group showed performance decrements in total words and switching production compared with healthy controls on both fluency tasks, whereas the naMCI group produced fewer words and switches on letter fluency. Each group generated more words and switches during the first 30-s on both fluency tasks, with the exception of the naMCI group, whose switching on letter fluency did not decrease as the task progressed. As indicated by the single-domain aMCI group's unimpaired performance, our findings demonstrate that verbal fluency performance decreases as domains beyond memory become impaired in MCI. Reduced switching ability, which has been linked to prefrontal executive functioning, contributed the most to the poorer performance of individuals with multidomain MCI and naMCI.
Mild cognitive impairment; Fluency; Language and language disorders; Executive functioning
Ethnically diverse examinees tend to perform lower on neuropsychological tests. The practice of adjusting normative comparisons for the education level and/or race to prevent overpathologizing low scores is problematic. Education quality, as measured by reading recognition, appears to be a more accurate benchmark for premorbid functioning in certain populations. The present study aimed to extend this line of research to traumatic brain injury (TBI). We hypothesized that a measure of reading recognition, the Wechsler Test of Adult Reading (WTAR), would account for racial differences in neuropsychological performance after TBI. Fifty participants (72% African American, 28% Caucasian) with moderate to severe TBI underwent neuropsychological testing at 1-year post-injury. Reading recognition accounted for all the same variance in neuropsychological performance as race and education (together), as well as considerable additional variance. Estimation of premorbid functioning in African Americans with TBI could be refined by considering reading recognition.
traumatic brain injury; premorbid functioning; racial differences; neuropsychological testing; psychometrics
We examined the relationship between a remote history of concussions with current symptoms of depression in retired professional athletes. Thirty retired National Football League (NFL) athletes with a history of concussion and 29 age- and IQ-matched controls without a history of concussion were recruited. We found a significant correlation between the number of lifetime concussions and depressive symptom severity using the Beck Depression Inventory II. Upon investigating a three-factor model of depressive symptoms (affective, cognitive, and somatic; Buckley et al., 2001) from the BDI-II, the cognitive factor was the only factor that was significantly related to concussions. In general, NFL players endorsed more symptoms of depression on all three Buckley factors compared with matched controls. Findings suggest that the number of self-reported concussions may be related to later depressive symptomology (particularly cognitive symptoms of depression).
Concussion; Depression; Cognition; Aging; Football; NFL
Disproportionately greater deficits in semantic relative to phonemic verbal fluency are seen in Alzheimer's disease (AD) and have been attributed to neurodegenerative changes in the temporal lobe. Amnestic (AMN) mild cognitive impairment (MCI), which often represents incipient AD, is also characterized by early temporal lobe neuropathology, but previous comparisons of verbal fluency between AD and AMN MCI have yielded mixed results. We examined semantic and phonemic verbal fluency performance in 399 individuals (78 AD, 138 AMN MCI, 72 non-amnestic MCI, and 111 cognitively normal controls). Similar verbal fluency patterns were seen in AMN MCI and AD; both groups exhibited disproportionately poorer performance on semantic verbal fluency relative to normal controls. However, relative verbal fluency indices performed more poorly than individual semantic or phonemic verbal fluency indices for discriminating AMN MCI or AD participants from normal controls, suggesting that they are unlikely to provide additional utility for predicting progression from MCI to AD.
Mild cognitive impairment; Alzheimer's disease; Verbal fluency; Dementia; Assessment; Cognition
The Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function-Adult Version (BRIEF-A) is a questionnaire measure designed to assess executive functioning in everyday life. Analysis of data from the BRIEF-A standardization sample yielded a two-factor solution (labeled Behavioral Regulation and Metacognition). The present investigation employed confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) to evaluate four alternative models of the factor structure of the BRIEF-A self-report form in a sample of 524 healthy young adults. Results indicated that a three-factor model best fits the data: a Metacognition factor, a Behavioral Regulation factor consisting of the Inhibit and Self-Monitor scales, and an Emotional Regulation factor composed of the Emotional Control and Shift scales. The three factors contributed 14%, 19%, and 24% of unique variance to the model, respectively, and a second-order general factor accounted for 41% of variance overall. This three-factor solution is consistent with recent CFAs of the Parent report form of the BRIEF. Furthermore, although the Behavioral Regulation factor score in the two-factor model did not differ between adults with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and a matched healthy comparison group, greater impairment on the Behavioral Regulation factor but not the Emotional Regulation factor was found using the three-factor model. Together, these findings support the multidimensional nature of executive function and the clinical relevance of a three-factor model of the BRIEF-A.
Executive function; Factor analysis; Psychometrics; Self-regulation; Neuropsychology; ADHD
This study examined the course of neuropsychological functioning in patients with chronic myelogeous leukemia (n = 91) or myelodysplastic syndrome (n = 15) who underwent standard treatment for their disease or allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) at baseline, 12 months, and 18 months post-treatment. At baseline, 23% of the participants (n = 75) in the longitudinal sample had Z-scores on at least one of the neuropsychological tests that were <1.4. Participants in the study showed improvement over baseline at the 12 and 18 months assessments. The average Z-scores for the six cognitive domains in the longitudinal data set over the course of the study ranged from −0.89 to 0.59. Significant predictors of change in neuropsychological test scores included age, with older participants showing less improvement over time. Other predictors included baseline cognitive domains (language, memory, and attention), previous cocaine use, disease status, intelligence quotient, and quality of life measures. Findings support previous studies in patients with hematological malignancies who showed cognitive impairments at baseline prior to HSCT. However, there was little evidence for further cognitive decline over the course of 18 months.
Cancer; Neuropsychology; Hematological malignancy; Cognition; Cancer treatment; Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation
Despite the well-documented observation of odor identification deficits in schizophrenia, less is known about where the disruption in the process of correctly identifying an odor occurs. This study aimed to determine the potential moderating effects of semantic processing on the observed olfactory dysfunction in schizophrenia. Schizophrenia patients and healthy comparison subjects completed two versions of the University of Pennsylvania Smell Identification Test (UPSIT): an uncued free-response version and the standard multiple-choice paradigm, as well as three semantic measures: The Boston Naming Test, Animal Naming, and Pyramids and Palm Tree Test. Schizophrenia patients yielded significantly lower scores than the comparison group on the standard UPSIT and on semantic measures. No relationship was observed between olfactory and semantic task performance in patients. These data suggest that odor identification deficits may not be primarily due to semantic processing deficits in schizophrenia.
Schizophrenia; Semantic processing; Olfactory; Olfaction; Smell; Boston naming test
Cognitive difficulties appear to be a more prevalent clinical feature in progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP) than previously thought, and significant cognitive impairment is prevalent in a majority of patients PSP patients not considered clinically demented. The neurocognitive performance of 200 patients with PSP across multiple sites was examined with a variety of commonly used neuropsychological tests. Results indicate primary executive dysfunction (e.g., 74% impaired on the Frontal Assessment Battery, 55% impaired on Initiation/Perseveration subscale of the Dementia Rating Scale), with milder difficulties in memory, construction, and naming. These results have important clinical implications for providers following patients with PSP.
Progressive supranuclear palsy; Frontal-executive; Parkinsonism; Dementia; Memory
Cognitive impairment is common among individuals with heart failure. The purpose of this study was to compare cognitive profiles of individuals with systolic and diastolic dysfunction. Eighty individuals with heart failure completed the Repeatable Battery for the Assessment of Neuropsychological Status (RBANS), Mini-Mental State Examination, Trail Making Test, and letter fluency. Approximately 25% of individuals with systolic dysfunction were impaired on the RBANS Total Scale score, compared with only 3% in the diastolic group. Additionally, individuals with systolic dysfunction scored lower than those with diastolic dysfunction on tests of immediate and delayed memory. The groups did not differ on tests of visuospatial skills, but there were mixed results on the RBANS Attention and Language subtests. Overall, the results of this study suggest that individuals with different types of cardiac dysfunction (systolic and diastolic dysfunction) demonstrate differential patterns of performance on neuropsychological tests. These findings have important clinical implications.
Cardiovascular disease; Executive function; Learning and memory; Mild cognitive impairment; Assessment
Limited research is available regarding the impact of neuropsychological functioning on health risk behaviors in rural-dwelling elderly populations. This cross-sectional study examined the relationships between estimated premorbid verbal IQ (AMNART), executive functioning impairment (EXIT25), and health risk behaviors including alcohol use (AUDIT), smoking, compliance with recommended cancer screenings, and obesity (BMI). The total sample included 456 English-speaking adults and older adults of non-Hispanic White and Hispanic origin seen as part of an ongoing study of rural cognitive aging, Project FRONTIER. Regression analyses revealed significant independent effects of AMNART and EXIT25 on most health risk behaviors, and supported the hypothesized mediating role of EXIT25 on the relationships between AMNART and smoking, cancer screenings, and BMI in both cognitively impaired and healthy subgroups. This study clarifies the relationships between executive functioning, premorbid IQ, and health risk behaviors in diverse groups, and confirms that premorbid IQ represents an important determinant of health behaviors and neurocognitive outcomes.
Executive functioning; Diversity; Cognition; Health risk behaviors; Premorbid verbal IQ; geriatrics
Executive dysfunction (ED) is a characteristic of Huntington disease (HD), but its severity and progression is less understood in the prodromal phase, e.g., before gross motor abnormalities. We examined planning and problem-solving abilities using the Towers Task in HD mutation-positive individuals without motor symptoms (n = 781) and controls (n = 212). Participants with greater disease progression (determined using mutation size and current age) performed more slowly and with less accuracy on the Towers Task. Performance accuracy was negatively related to striatal volume while both accuracy and working memory were negatively related to frontal white matter volume. Disease progression at baseline was not associated with longitudinal performance over 4 years. Whereas the baseline findings indicate that ED becomes more prevalent with greater disease progression in prodromal HD and can be quantified using the Towers task, the absence of notable longitudinal findings indicates that the Towers Task exhibits limited sensitivity to cognitive decline in this population.
Huntington's disease; Genetic disorders; Executive functions; Neuroimaging (structural); Norms/normative studies; Practice effects/reliable change; longitudinal change
Visuospatial stimuli are normally perceived from the global structure to local details. A right-brain stroke often disrupts this perceptual organization, resulting in piecemeal encoding and thus poor visuospatial memory. Using a randomized controlled design, the present study examined whether promoting the global-to-local encoding improves retrieval accuracy in right-brain-damaged stroke survivors with visuospatial memory deficits. Eleven participants received a single session of the Global Processing Training (global-to-local encoding) or the Rote Repetition Training (no encoding strategy) to learn the Rey–Osterrieth Complex Figure. The result demonstrated that the Global Processing Training significantly improved visuospatial memory deficits after a right-brain stroke. On the other hand, rote practice without a step-by-step guidance limited the degree of memory improvement. The treatment effect was observed both immediately after the training procedure and 24 h post-training. Overall, the present findings are consistent with the long-standing principle in cognitive rehabilitation that an effective treatment is based on specific training aimed at improving specific neurocognitive deficits. Importantly, visuospatial memory deficits after a right-brain stroke may improve with treatments that promote global processing at encoding.
Stroke rehabilitation; Visuospatial disorder; Cognitive rehabilitation; Memory rehabilitation; Complex figure; Learning and memory
Increased understanding of the underlying mechanisms of cognitive remediation is needed to facilitate development of intervention strategies for childhood cancer survivors experiencing cognitive late effects. Accordingly, a pilot functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study was conducted with 14 cancer survivors (12.02 ± 0.09 years old), who participated in a cognitive remediation clinical trial, and 28 healthy children (12.7 ± 0.6 years old). The ventral visual areas, cerebellum, supplementary motor area, and left inferior frontal cortex were significantly activated in the healthy participants during a continuous performance task. In survivors, brain activation in these regions was diminished at baseline, and increased upon completion of remediation and at a 6-month follow-up. The fMRI activation index for each region of interest was inversely associated with the Conners' Clinical Competence Index (p<.01). The pilot study suggests that fMRI is useful in evaluating neural responses to cognitive remediation.
Attention; Brain tumor; Childhood brain insult; Neuroimaging (functional); Rehabilitation
Apathy is a relatively common clinical feature of HIV-Associated Neurocognitive Disorders, but little is known about its implications for everyday functioning outcomes. In the present study, we examined the associations between apathy and self-reported instrumental activities of daily living (IADL) and neurocognitive complaints in 75 participants with HIV infection and 52 demographically comparable seronegative comparison subjects. All volunteers completed the apathy subscale of the Frontal Systems Behavioral Scale as part of a comprehensive neuromedical, psychiatric, and neurocognitive research evaluation. When compared with the seronegative comparison participants, the HIV+ group reported significantly higher current levels of apathy, but did not differ in self-report of prior (i.e., pre-seroconversion) apathy. Higher current apathy self-ratings were associated with greater severity of IADL declines and more numerous cognitive complaints in the HIV+ sample, even after adjusting for potential psychiatric (e.g., depression), medical (e.g., hepatitis C co-infection), and neurocognitive predictors. Cognitive complaints, but not IADLs, were also uniquely associated with ratings of executive dysfunction and disinhibition. All told, these findings suggest that apathy may make a unique contribution to important everyday functioning outcomes among persons living with HIV infection. The clinical detection of apathy may help identify HIV-infected individuals at particular risk for functional impairments who may require additional support to maintain independence.
HIV/AIDS; Activities of daily living; Apathy; Everyday functioning
Although HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders (HAND) are the strong predictors of everyday functioning difficulties, approximately half of all functionally impaired individuals are labeled “neurocognitively normal” according to the standard neuropsychological measures, suggesting that novel predictors of functional problems in this prevalent subgroup are needed. The present study hypothesized that increased neurocognitive intra-individual variability as indexed by dispersion would be associated with poor daily functioning among 82 persons with HIV infection who did not meet research criteria for HAND. An intra-individual standard deviation was calculated across the demographically adjusted T-scores of 13 standard neuropsychological tests to represent dispersion, and functional outcomes included self-reported declines in basic and instrumental activities of daily functioning (basic activity of daily living [BADL] and instrumental activity of daily living [IADL], respectively) and medication management. Dispersion was a significant predictor of medication adherence and dependence in both BADL and IADL, even when other known predictors of functional status (i.e., age, affective distress, and indices of disease severity) were included in the models. As a significant and unique predictor of a performance on the range of daily functioning activities, neurocognitive dispersion may be indicative of deficient cognitive control expressed as inefficient regulation of neurocognitive resources in the context of competing functional demands. As such, dispersion may have clinical utility in detecting risk for functional problems among HIV-infected individuals without HAND.
HIV; Everyday functioning; Neuropsychological assessment; Variability; AIDS dementia complex; Treatment compliance
This joint position paper of the American Academy of Clinical Neuropsychology and the National Academy of Neuropsychology sets forth our position on appropriate standards and conventions for computerized neuropsychological assessment devices (CNADs). In this paper, we first define CNADs and distinguish them from examiner-administered neuropsychological instruments. We then set forth position statements on eight key issues relevant to the development and use of CNADs in the healthcare setting. These statements address (a) device marketing and performance claims made by developers of CNADs; (b) issues involved in appropriate end-users for administration and interpretation of CNADs; (c) technical (hardware/software/firmware) issues; (d) privacy, data security, identity verification, and testing environment; (e) psychometric development issues, especially reliability, and validity; (f) cultural, experiential, and disability factors affecting examinee interaction with CNADs; (g) use of computerized testing and reporting services; and (h) the need for checks on response validity and effort in the CNAD environment. This paper is intended to provide guidance for test developers and users of CNADs that will promote accurate and appropriate use of computerized tests in a way that maximizes clinical utility and minimizes risks of misuse. The positions taken in this paper are put forth with an eye toward balancing the need to make validated CNADs accessible to otherwise underserved patients with the need to ensure that such tests are developed and utilized competently, appropriately, and with due concern for patient welfare and quality of care.
Computerized testing; Neurocognition; Neuropsychological test validity
Repeated assessments are a relatively common occurrence in clinical neuropsychology. The current paper will review some of the relevant concepts (e.g., reliability, practice effects, alternate forms) and methods (e.g., reliable change index, standardized based regression) that are used in repeated neuropsychological evaluations. The focus will be on the understanding and application of these concepts and methods in the evaluation of the individual patient through examples. Finally, some future directions for assessing change will be described.
Reliable change; Practice effects; Assessment
Late-life minor depression (miD) is a prevalent but poorly understood illness. Verbal learning and memory profiles have commonly been used to characterize neuropsychiatric disorders. This study compared the performance of 27 older adults with miD on the California Verbal Learning Test (CVLT) with 26 age-matched individuals with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) and 36 non-depressed controls. Results revealed that the miD group performed comparably with controls and significantly better than the MDD group on several CVLT indices. Moreover, cluster analysis revealed three distinct groups, consistent with theoretical representations of “normal,” “subcortical,” and “cortical” verbal learning and memory profiles. The majority of the miD group showed “normal” profiles (74%), whereas most individuals with MDD displayed “subcortical” profiles (54%). The findings suggest that depression in the elderly is a heterogeneous entity and that the CVLT may be a useful tool for characterizing learning and memory in late-onset depressive disorders.
Depression; Minor; Elderly; Late-onset; CVLT; Verbal learning and memory
Although initially developed as a brief dementia battery, the Repeatable Battery for the Assessment of Neuropsychological Status (RBANS) has not yet demonstrated its sensitivity, specificity, and positive and negative predictive powers in detecting cognitive impairment in patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD). Therefore, the current study examined the clinical utility of the RBANS by comparing two age-, education-, and gender-matched groups: patients with AD (n=69) and comparators (n=69). Significant differences (p<0.001) were observed on the RBANS Total score, all 5 Indexes, and all 12 subtests, with patients performing worse than the comparison participants. An optimal balance between sensitivity and specificity on RBANS scores was obtained when cutoffs of one and one and a half standard deviations below the mean of the comparison sample were implemented. Areas under the Receiver Operating Characteristic curves for all RBANS Indexes were impressive though Immediate and Delayed Memory Indexes were excellent (0.96 and 0.98, respectively). Results suggest that RBANS scores yield excellent estimates of diagnostic accuracy and that the RBANS is a useful screening tool in detection of cognitive deficits associated with AD.
Alzheimer's disease; Dementia; Diagnostic accuracy; Repeatable Battery for the Assessment of Neuropsychological Status
Previous studies, in which cognitive and motor neuropsychological tasks were administered to 816 children from Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)- and control-families, showed that various of these measures appeared useful for genetic research in ADHD by forming candidate endophenotypes: underlying, heritable, vulnerability traits that mark an enhanced liability for developing ADHD. The current study extends these findings by showing that six of these ten measures correlate more strongly between siblings than an ADHD composite, suggesting these measures may have a larger heritability than ADHD itself. Significant sibling cross-correlations also suggested that six of ten neuropsychological measures related to similar familial (and heritable) factors as ADHD, suggesting these measures to be useful for ADHD genetic research. An aggregated neuropsychological composite appeared to be the most powerful, since it correlated more strongly between siblings than most individual task measures. These findings suggest heritability research in ADHD will probably be facilitated by including neuropsychological measures.
Endophenotype; Phenotype; ADHD; Heritability; Neuropsychology; Siblings