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Social cognition is impaired in mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and dementia. However, its relationship to social functioning and perceived social support has yet to be explored. Here, we examine how theory of mind (ToM) relates to social functioning in MCI and dementia.
Older adults (cognitively normal = 1272; MCI = 132; dementia = 23) from the PATH Through Life project, a longitudinal, population-based study, were assessed on the Reading the Mind in the Eyes Test (RMET), measures of social functioning, and social well-being. The associations between RMET performance, social functioning, and cognitive status were analysed using generalised linear models, adjusting for demographic variables.
Participants with MCI (b=−.52, 95% CI [−.70, −.33]) and dementia (b=−.78, 95% CI [−1.22, −.34]) showed poorer RMET performance than cognitively normal participants. Participants with MCI and dementia reported reduced social network size (b=−.21, 95% CI [−.40, −.02] and b=−.90, 95% CI [−1.38, −.42], respectively) and participants with dementia reported increased loneliness (b = .36, 95% CI [.06, .67]). In dementia, poorer RMET performance was associated with increased loneliness (b=−.07, 95% CI [−.14, −.00]) and a trend for negative interactions with partners (b=−.37, 95% CI [−.74, .00]), but no significant associations were found in MCI.
MCI and dementia were associated with poor self-reported social function. ToM deficits were related to poor social function in dementia but not MCI. Findings highlight the importance of interventions to address social cognitive deficits in persons with dementia and education of support networks to facilitate positive interactions and social well-being.
Functional impairment in daily activity is a cornerstone in distinguishing the clinical progression of dementia. Multiple indicators based on neuroimaging and neuropsychological instruments are used to assess the levels of impairment and disease severity; however, it remains unclear how multivariate patterns of predictors uniquely predict the functional ability and how the relative importance of various predictors differs.
In this study, 881 older adults with subjective cognitive complaints, mild cognitive impairment (MCI), and dementia with Alzheimer’s type completed brain structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), neuropsychological assessment, and a survey of instrumental activities of daily living (IADL). We utilized the partial least square (PLS) method to identify latent components that are predictive of IADL.
The result showed distinct brain components (gray matter density of cerebellar, medial temporal, subcortical, limbic, and default network regions) and cognitive–behavioral components (general cognitive abilities, processing speed, and executive function, episodic memory, and neuropsychiatric symptoms) were predictive of IADL. Subsequent path analysis showed that the effect of brain structural components on IADL was largely mediated by cognitive and behavioral components. When comparing hierarchical regression models, the brain structural measures minimally added the explanatory power of cognitive and behavioral measures on IADL.
Our finding suggests that cerebellar structure and orbitofrontal cortex, alongside with medial temporal lobe, play an important role in the maintenance of functional status in older adults with or without dementia. Moreover, the significance of brain structural volume affects real-life functional activities via disruptions in multiple cognitive and behavioral functions.
Retrospective self-report is typically used for diagnosing previous pediatric traumatic brain injury (TBI). A new semi-structured interview instrument (New Mexico Assessment of Pediatric TBI; NewMAP TBI) investigated test–retest reliability for TBI characteristics in both the TBI that qualified for study inclusion and for lifetime history of TBI.
One-hundred and eight-four mTBI (aged 8–18), 156 matched healthy controls (HC), and their parents completed the NewMAP TBI within 11 days (subacute; SA) and 4 months (early chronic; EC) of injury, with a subset returning at 1 year (late chronic; LC).
The test–retest reliability of common TBI characteristics [loss of consciousness (LOC), post-traumatic amnesia (PTA), retrograde amnesia, confusion/disorientation] and post-concussion symptoms (PCS) were examined across study visits. Aside from PTA, binary reporting (present/absent) for all TBI characteristics exhibited acceptable (≥0.60) test–retest reliability for both Qualifying and Remote TBIs across all three visits. In contrast, reliability for continuous data (exact duration) was generally unacceptable, with LOC and PCS meeting acceptable criteria at only half of the assessments. Transforming continuous self-report ratings into discrete categories based on injury severity resulted in acceptable reliability. Reliability was not strongly affected by the parent completing the NewMAP TBI.
Categorical reporting of TBI characteristics in children and adolescents can aid clinicians in retrospectively obtaining reliable estimates of TBI severity up to a year post-injury. However, test–retest reliability is strongly impacted by the initial data distribution, selected statistical methods, and potentially by patient difficulty in distinguishing among conceptually similar medical concepts (i.e., PTA vs. confusion).
The Verbal Naming Test (VNT) is an auditory-based measure of naming or word finding. The current multisite study sought to evaluate the reliability and validity of the VNT in the detection of major and mild neurocognitive disorder (NCD).
This study analyzed clinical data from two outpatient neuropsychology clinics (N = 188 and N = 77) and a geriatric primary care clinic (N = 104). Cronbach’s alpha and Spearman correlations with other measures were calculated. ROC analyses were used to calculate sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive power, and negative predictive power for the detection of major and mild NCD per DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition) criteria.
The VNT was found to have strong reliability (Cronbach’s alpha = .90) and high convergent validity with a commonly used picture-naming task (NAB Naming, Spearman’s rho = .65, p < .001). The VNT showed good sensitivity and specificity for the detection of NCDs, particularly major NCD, with an area under the curve of .85, sensitivity of .80, and specificity of .75. A possible discontinue rule is also suggested for clinicians to use.
These findings provide compelling evidence for the use of the VNT to detect neurocognitive impairment in a clinical setting. The VNT provides a reliable alternative to picture-naming tasks, which may be advantageous when working with visually impaired patients or conducting evaluations over telehealth.
To identify which aspects of prosody are negatively affected subsequent to right hemisphere brain damage (RHD) and to evaluate the methodological quality of the constituent studies.
Twenty-one electronic databases were searched to identify articles from 1970 to February 2020 by entering keywords. Eligibility criteria for articles included a focus on adults with acquired RHD, prosody as the primary research topic, and publication in a peer-reviewed journal. A quality appraisal was conducted using a rubric adapted from Downs and Black (1998).
Of the 113 articles appraised as eligible and appropriate for inclusion, 71 articles were selected to undergo data extraction for both meta-analyses of population effect size estimates and qualitative synthesis. Across all domains of prosody, the effect estimate was g = 2.51 [95% CI (1.94, 3.09), t = 8.66, p < 0.0001], based on 129 contrasts between RHD and non-brain-damaged healthy controls (NBD), indicating a significant random effects model. This effect size was driven by findings in emotional prosody, g = 2.48 [95% CI (1.76, 3.20), t = 6.88, p < 0.0001]. Overall, studies of higher quality (rpb = 0.18, p < 0.001) and higher sample size/contrast ratio (rpb = 0.25, p < 0.001) were more likely to report significant differences between RHD and NBD participants.
The results confirm consistent evidence for emotional prosody deficits in the RHD population. Inconsistent evidence was observed across linguistic prosody domains and pervasive methodological issues were identified across studies, regardless of their prosody focus. These findings highlight the need for more rigorous and sufficiently high-powered designs to examine prosody subsequent to RHD, particularly within the linguistic prosody domain.
Older age is often identified as a risk factor for poor outcome from traumatic brain injury (TBI). However, this relates predominantly to mortality following moderate–severe TBI. It remains unclear whether increasing age exerts risk on the expected recovery from mild TBI (mTBI). In this systematic review of mTBI in older age (60+ years), a focus was to identify outcome through several domains – cognition, psychological health, and life participation.
Fourteen studies were identified for review, using PRISMA guidelines. Narrative synthesis is provided for all outcomes, from acute to long-term time points, and a meta-analysis was conducted for data investigating life participation.
By 3-month follow-up, preliminary findings indicate that older adults continue to experience selective cognitive difficulties, but given the data it is possible these difficulties are due to generalised trauma or preexisting cognitive impairment. In contrast, there is stronger evidence across time points that older adults do not experience elevated levels of psychological distress following injury and endorse fewer psychological symptoms than younger adults. Meta-analysis, based on the Glasgow Outcome Scale at 6 months+ post-injury, indicates that a large proportion (67%; 95% CI 0.569, 0.761) of older adults can achieve good functional recovery, similar to younger adults. Nevertheless, individual studies using alternative life participation measures suggest more mixed rates of recovery.
Although our initial review suggests some optimism in recovery from mTBI in older age, there is an urgent need for more investigations in this under-researched but growing demographic. This is critical for ensuring adequate health service provision, if needed.
Cognitive impairment is common in individuals with substance use disorders (SUDs), yet no evidence-based guidelines exist regarding the most appropriate screening measure for use in this population. This systematic review aimed to (1) describe different cognitive screening measures used in adults with SUDs, (2) identify substance use populations and contexts these tools are utilised in, (3) review diagnostic accuracy of these screening measures versus an accepted objective reference standard, and (4) evaluate methodology of included studies for risk of bias.
Online databases (PsycINFO, MEDLINE, Embase, and CINAHL) were searched for relevant studies according to pre-determined criteria, and risk of bias and applicability was assessed using the Quality Assessment of Diagnostic Accuracy Studies–2 (QUADAS–2). At each review phase, dual screening, extraction, and quality ratings were performed.
Fourteen studies met inclusion, identifying 10 unique cognitive screening tools. The Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) was the most common, and two novel screening tools (Brief Evaluation of Alcohol-Related Neuropsychological Impairments [BEARNI] and Brief Executive Function Assessment Tool [BEAT]) were specifically developed for use within SUD populations. Twelve studies reported on classification accuracy and relevant psychometric parameters (e.g., sensitivity and specificity). While several tools yielded acceptable to outstanding classification accuracy, there was poor adherence to the Standards for Reporting Diagnostic Accuracy Studies (STARD) across all studies, with high or unclear risk of methodological bias.
While some screening tools exhibit promise for use within SUD populations, further evaluation with stronger methodological design and reporting is required. Clinical recommendations and future directions for research are discussed.