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Successful aging is a multidimensional construct that has been used by a variety of clinical and empirical disciplines to describe physical and psychological well-being among the elderly. While biomedical models of successful aging rely on fixed criteria related to health and disability status, psychological models emphasize dynamic processes that promote life satisfaction in the face of age-related declines. Psychological models have proposed individual traits that are associated with successful aging processes, including those related to coping with, adapting to, and compensating for age-related challenges (e.g., tenacious goal pursuit, flexibility, etc.). Grit is a noncognitive trait that may promote coping and compensation but has been relatively unexamined in relation to successful aging. The ability to adapt to age-related losses, such as physical disability and cognitive decline, may represent a previously unexplored facet of grit that is specific to older adults. Preserved cognitive functioning is an important component of successful aging that may be promoted by grit and the use of compensatory strategies. In the context of atypical cognitive decline, however, grit may fail to promote effective compensation and may instead result in the use of unsuccessful strategies or “costly perseverance.”
Relative to dementia, little is known about informant bias in mild cognitive impairment (MCI). We investigated the influence of informant demographic and relational characteristics on reports of everyday functioning using the Functional Activities Questionnaire (FAQ).
Four thousand two hundred eighty-four MCI participants and their informants from the National Alzheimer’s Coordinating Center Uniform Data Set were included. Informants were stratified according to cohabitation, relationship, visit frequency, race/ethnicity, education, and sex. Informant-rated Mean FAQ score was compared across these groups using univariate general linear model analyses and post hoc tests. Interactions were tested between informant variables. The predictive contribution of informant variables to FAQ score was explored using hierarchical linear regression. Analyses covaried for participant cognition using a cognitive composite score, and for participant age, sex, and depression.
After controlling for participant cognition, depression, age, and sex, informant-rated FAQ scores varied significantly across all informant variables (p’s < .005, ηp2’s ≤ .033) except sex and visit frequency. FAQ scores were higher (more impaired) among informants who cohabitate with the participant, among paid caregivers, spouses, and adult children, and among informants with higher levels of education. Scores were lowest (less impaired) among Black/African American informants as compared to all other racial/ethnic groups.
Demographic and relational characteristics of informants influence the perception and reporting of instrumental activities of daily living in adults with MCI. As everyday functioning is crucial for differential diagnosis and treatment outcome measurement, it is important to be aware of sources of informant report discrepancies.
The Everyday Compensation scale (EComp) is an informant-rated questionnaire designed to measure cognitively based compensatory strategies that support both everyday memory and executive function in the context of completing instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs). Although previous findings provided early support for the usefulness of the initial version of EComp, the current paper further describes the development, refinement, and validation of EComp as a new assessment tool of compensation for IADLs.
Confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) was used to examine its factor structure. Convergent and predictive validity was evaluated by examining the relationship between EComp and markers of disease, including diagnosis, cognitive change, and trajectories of functional abilities.
CFA supported a general compensation factor after accounting for variance attributable to IADL domain-specific engagement. The clinical groups differed in compensatory strategy use, with those with dementia using significantly fewer compensatory strategies as compared to individuals with normal cognition or mild cognitive impairment. Greater levels of compensation were related to better cognitive functions (memory and executive function) and functional abilities, as well as slower rates of cognitive and functional decline over time. Importantly, higher levels of compensation were associated with less functional difficulties and subsequently slower rate of functional decline independent of the level of cognitive impairment.
Engagement in compensatory strategies among older adults has important implications for prolonging functional independence, even in those with declining cognitive functioning. Results suggest that the revised EComp is likely to be useful in measuring cognitively based compensation in older adults.
Objectives: Careful characterization of how functional decline co-evolves with cognitive decline in older adults has yet to be well described. Most models of neurodegenerative disease postulate that cognitive decline predates and potentially leads to declines in everyday functional abilities; however, there is mounting evidence that subtle decline in instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs) may be detectable in older individuals who are still cognitively normal. Methods: The present study examines how the relationship between change in cognition and change in IADLs are best characterized among older adults who participated in the ACTIVE trial. Neuropsychological and IADL data were analyzed for 2802 older adults who were cognitively normal at study baseline and followed for up to 10 years. Results: Findings demonstrate that subtle, self-perceived difficulties in performing IADLs preceded and predicted subsequent declines on cognitive tests of memory, reasoning, and speed of processing. Conclusions: Findings are consistent with a growing body of literature suggesting that subjective changes in everyday abilities can be associated with more precipitous decline on objective cognitive measures and the development of mild cognitive impairment and dementia. (JINS, 2018, 24, 104–112)
Cognitive functioning, particularly executive functioning, is a strong predictor of functional outcomes in people with schizophrenia. Cognitive remediation has been shown to improve specific cognitive processes, but adjunctive interventions are required for meaningful gains in adaptive functioning, particularly in people with chronic illness. This study examined whether (and how) environmental adaptations, used without training, may circumvent cognitive difficulties and facilitate everyday task performance in individuals with chronic schizophrenia. Forty-two individuals with chronic schizophrenia/schizoaffective disorder were administered cognitive measures and two versions of the Naturalistic Action Test (NAT)—a standard version (ST-NAT), and a user-centered version (UC-NAT) that incorporated environmental adaptations designed to facilitate task performance. The NAT conditions were counterbalanced across participants. Analyses compared performance between the NAT versions and examined the cognitive correlates of each NAT condition. Individuals with schizophrenia made fewer errors on the UC-NAT as compared to the ST-NAT; this between-group difference was significant for all error types. Compared to the ST-NAT, the UC-NAT performance was not significantly associated with an executive function measure of planning. Environmental adaptations may be implemented without extensive training to improve everyday action in individuals with chronic schizophrenia. Environmental adaptations that reduce planning demands may be most effective in this population. (JINS, 2015, 21, 319–329)
Prior research using performance-based assessment of functional impairment has informed a novel neuropsychological model of everyday action impairment in dementia in which omission errors (i.e., failure to complete task steps) dissociate from commission errors (i.e., inaccurate performance of task steps) and have unique neuropsychological correlates. However, this model has not been tested in other populations. The present study examined whether this model extends to schizophrenia. Fifty-four individuals with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder were administered a neuropsychological protocol and the Naturalistic Action Test (NAT), a performance-based measure of everyday action. A principal component analysis (PCA) was performed to examine the construct(s) comprising everyday action impairment, and correlations between the resultant component(s) and neuropsychological tests were examined. Results showed that omissions and a subset of commissions were distinct components of everyday action. However, results did not support unique associations between these components and specific neuropsychological measures. These findings extend the omission-commission model to schizophrenia and may have important implications for efficient assessment and effective rehabilitation of functional impairment, such as the potential efficacy of targeted interventions for the rehabilitation of omission and commission deficits in everyday functioning. Larger studies with prospective designs are needed to replicate the present preliminary findings. (JINS, 2014, 20, 1–10)
This study examined everyday action impairment in participants with Parkinson's disease dementia (PDD) by comparison with participants with Parkinson's disease-no dementia (PD) or Alzheimer's disease (AD) and in reference to a neuropsychological model. Participants with PDD (n = 20), PD (n = 20), or AD (n = 20) were administered performance-based measures of everyday functioning that allowed for the quantification of overall performance and error types. Also, caregiver ratings of functional independence were obtained. On performance-based tests, the PDD group exhibited greater functional impairment than the PD group but comparable overall impairment relative to the AD group. Error patterns did not differ between PDD and PD participants but the PDD group demonstrated a higher proportion of commission errors and lower proportion of omission errors relative to the AD group. Hierarchical regression analyses showed omission errors were significantly predicted by neuropsychological measures of episodic memory, whereas commission errors were predicted by both measures of general dementia severity (MMSE) and executive control. Everyday action impairment in PDD differs quantitatively from PD but qualitatively from AD and may be characterized by a relatively high proportion of commission errors—an error type associated with executive control deficits. (JINS, 2012, 18, 1–12)
Libon et al. (2010) provided evidence for three statistically determined clusters of patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI): amnesic (aMCI), dysexecutive (dMCI), and mixed (mxMCI). The current study further examined dysexecutive impairment in MCI using the framework of Fuster's (1997) derailed temporal gradients, that is, declining performance on executive tests over time or test epoch. Temporal gradients were operationally defined by calculating the slope of aggregate letter fluency output across 15-s epochs and accuracy indices for initial, middle, and latter triads from the Wechsler Memory Scale-Mental Control subtest (Boston Revision). For letter fluency, slope was steeper for dMCI compared to aMCI and NC groups. Between-group Mental Control analyses for triad 1 revealed worse dMCI performance than NC participants. On triad 2, dMCI scored lower than aMCI and NCs; on triad 3, mxMCI performed worse versus NCs. Within-group Mental Control analyses yielded equal performance across all triads for aMCI and NC participants. mxMCI scored lower on triad 1 compared to triads 2 and 3. dMCI participants also performed worse on triad 1 compared to triads 2 and 3, but scored higher on triad 3 versus triad 2. These data suggest impaired temporal gradients may provide a useful heuristic for understanding dysexecutive impairment in MCI. (JINS, 2012, 18, 20–28)
Using cluster analysis Libon et al. (2010) found three verbal serial list-learning profiles involving delay memory test performance in patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI). Amnesic MCI (aMCI) patients presented with low scores on delay free recall and recognition tests; mixed MCI (mxMCI) patients scored higher on recognition compared to delay free recall tests; and dysexecutive MCI (dMCI) patients generated relatively intact scores on both delay test conditions. The aim of the current research was to further characterize memory impairment in MCI by examining forgetting/savings, interference from a competing word list, intrusion errors/perseverations, intrusion word frequency, and recognition foils in these three statistically determined MCI groups compared to normal control (NC) participants. The aMCI patients exhibited little savings, generated more highly prototypic intrusion errors, and displayed indiscriminate responding to delayed recognition foils. The mxMCI patients exhibited higher saving scores, fewer and less prototypic intrusion errors, and selectively endorsed recognition foils from the interference list. dMCI patients also selectively endorsed recognition foils from the interference list but performed similarly compared to NC participants. These data suggest the existence of distinct memory impairments in MCI and caution against the routine use of a single memory test score to operationally define MCI. (JINS, 2011, 17, 905–914)
This study evaluated the impact of distractor objects and their similarity to target objects on everyday task performance in dementia. Twenty participants with dementia due to Alzheimer’s disease (n = 12) or subcortical vascular disease (n = 8) were videotaped while they performed 3 discrete tasks: (1) make a cup of coffee, (2) wrap a gift, and (3) pack a lunch under two conditions that were counterbalanced across participants. The conditions differed in terms of the type of distractor objects included in the workspace: (1) Target-Related Distractor Condition - distractor objects were functionally and visually similar to target objects (e.g., salt for sugar) (2) Unrelated Distractor Condition - distractors were neither visually nor functionally similar to targets (e.g., glue for sugar). Participants touched (t = 4.19; p < .01) and used (z = 3.00; p < .01) significantly more distractors, made more distractor errors (i.e., substitutions; t = 2.93; p < .01), and took longer to complete tasks (t = 2.27; p < .05) in the Target-Related Distractor condition. The percent of steps accomplished and non-distractor errors did not differ across conditions (t < 1.26; p > .05 for both). In summary, distractors that were similar to targets elicited significant interference effects circumscribed to object selection. (JINS, 2010, 16, 484–494.)
A group of 94 nondemented patients self-referred to an outpatient memory clinic for memory difficulties were studied to determine the incidence of single versus multi-domain mild cognitive impairment (MCI) using Petersen criteria. Fifty-five community dwelling normal controls (NC) participants without memory complaints also were recruited. Tests assessing executive control, naming/lexical retrieval, and declarative memory were administered. Thirty-four patients exhibited single-domain MCI, 43 patients presented with multi-domain MCI. When the entire MCI sample (n = 77) was subjected to a cluster analysis, 14 patients were classified with amnesic MCI, 21 patients with dysexecutive MCI, and 42 patients were classified into a mixed/multi-domain MCI group involving low scores on tests of letter fluency, “animal” fluency, and delayed recognition discriminability. Analyses comparing the three cluster-derived MCI groups versus a NC group confirmed the presence of memory and dysexecutive impairment for the amnesic and dysexecutive MCI groups. The mixed MCI group produced lower scores on tests of letter fluency compared with the amnesic MCI and NC groups and lower scores on tests of naming and memory compared with the NC group. In summary, multi-domain MCI is quite common. These data suggest that MCI is a highly nuanced and complex clinical entity. (JINS, 2010, 16, 84–93.)
Comprehension difficulties associated with periventricular and deep white matter alterations (WMA) in mild dementia were investigated using portions of the Boston Diagnostic Aphasia Examination (BDAE) Complex Ideation subtest and Syntax subtests. Mild dementia participants were grouped according to the extent of their WMA as observed on magnetic resonance imaging (mild WMA n = 45 vs. moderate to severe WMA n = 52). Correlation and regression analyses also were performed to examine the link between WMA and comprehension abilities, as well as the link between comprehension abilities and neuropsychological measures of executive functioning, language, episodic memory, and overall dementia severity. Results showed that the WMA groups differed on the BDAE-Syntax subtests, with the severe WMA group demonstrating more impairment. Correlation and regression analyses including the entire sample also demonstrated that the extent of WMA was significantly linked to Syntax test scores but not Complex Ideation scores. Regression analyses including neuropsychological measures showed that the BDAE-Complex Ideation score was marginally predicted by only overall dementia severity, whereas the BDAE-Syntax scores were significantly predicted by independent measures of working memory/executive functioning. In conclusion, greater subcortical WMA and executive deficits are associated with greater difficulties in syntactic comprehension in individuals with mild dementia. (JINS, 2008, 14, 542–551.)
Error monitoring is critical to an individual's ability to function autonomously. This study characterized error detection and correction behaviors within the service of everyday tasks in individuals with dementia. Also, the impact of neuropsychological functioning on error detection and correction was examined. Fifty-three participants diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease (AD) or vascular dementia (VaD) were administered a neuropsychological protocol and the Naturalistic Action Test, which requires performance of three everyday tasks. Error detection, correction, and the point at which correction occurred (i.e., microslip—before the error was completed, immediate—just after the error was made, delayed—after performing other task steps) was coded. Dementia participants detected 32.7% of their errors and corrected 75.8% of detected errors. Participants were more likely to engage in microslips than delayed corrections. Tests of executive control and language predicted detection and correction variables; moreover, detection and correction were each related to different aspects of executive functioning. Microslips were related to naming ability. AD and VaD patients did not differ on detection/correction variables, and regression analyses indicated that dementia severity and memory abilities were unrelated to detection/correction. The results specify the error monitoring deficits in AD and VaD and have implications for improving functional abilities in dementia. (JINS, 2008, 14, 199–208.)
The Cognitive Neuropsychology Laboratory at Temple University applies
neuropsychological models of action processes to the study of everyday
action (EA) in dementia. Our ultimate goals are to develop models of EA
impairment and inform interventions that promote EA in the home. Our
recent paper (Giovannetti et al., 2006b) was an
initial step in this overarching plan. We examined differences in EA
between participants with Alzheimer's disease (AD)
versus Vascular dementia (VaD), two distinct neurocognitive
syndromes (see Libon et al., 2004). The groups
obtained comparable overall accomplishment scores, but VaD participants
made more commissions and accomplished fewer steps when distractor objects
were in the workspace. Thus, VaD participants demonstrated a different
pattern of EA impairment than AD participants.
The relationship between dementia diagnosis and everyday action (e.g.,
meal preparation, grooming) is not well understood. This study examines
differences between individuals diagnosed with vascular dementia (VaD;
n = 25) versus Alzheimer's disease (AD; n
= 23) on the Naturalistic Action Test (NAT; Schwartz et
al., 2003), a performance-based measure that includes three tasks
of increasing complexity. The percentage of task steps accomplished,
number of errors, and performance times were recorded for each task. While
the groups did not differ in dementia severity or overall impairment on
the NAT, the VaD group committed more errors (3.3 vs. 1.6,
p = 02). The VaD group also accomplished significantly fewer
steps when salient distractor objects were present (74.0% vs.
91.3%, p < .01). Correlations between NAT variables and
neuropsychological tests suggest the executive control deficits associated
with VaD may contribute to specific action difficulties, such as
distractor interference and inefficient, error-prone action on complex
tasks. In AD, everyday action may be negatively influenced by episodic
memory failures. Thus, dementia diagnosis has relevance to everyday
function. (JINS, 2006, 12, 45–53.)
Animal word list generation (ANWLG) was administered to 47 first-episode schizophrenia (FES) participants and 31 controls. Fifty-nine left temporal lobe epilepsy (LTLE) participants were included as a comparison group with known temporal lobe damage and expected semantic deficits. Semantic knowledge was assessed with the Association Index (AI), a measure of the semantic relatedness of all consecutive ANWLG responses. Neuropsychological tests of language and executive functioning were also administered. Results showed that both FES and LTLE groups generated fewer ANWLG responses than controls, but only the LTLE participants obtained a lower AI relative to controls. FES participants did not differ from controls on the AI. FES and LTLE groups produced fewer semantic subcategories (clusters), however, only the LTLE group produced fewer words per subcategory compared to controls (cluster size). FES participants produced a higher rate of perseverative responses compared to the other groups. Finally, correlation analyses showed that for FES participants both executive and language tests significantly correlated with ANWLG total responses, while the correlation between ANWLG and only 1 language test was significant for LTLE participants. Taken together, the results suggest that reduced ANWLG output in FES participants may be best conceptualized as a deficit in the executive component of word list generation (i.e., semantic search/access, response monitoring) or global cognitive impairment. (JINS, 2003, 9, 384–393.)
Unawareness of deficit is a common feature of degenerative dementia. The present study explored awareness and correction of naturalistic action errors in 54 dementia participants and 10 healthy controls while they performed a series of everyday tasks, such as toast preparation and gift-wrapping. Awareness for everyday task performance and cognitive functioning was also assessed with questionnaire discrepancy scores, and a neuropsychological test protocol was administered. Dementia participants were aware of and corrected a significantly smaller proportion of errors compared to controls (z = 4.59, p < 001). Awareness and correction of action errors was not significantly correlated with the number of naturalistic errors committed, questionnaire discrepancy scores, or neuropsychological test data. Within-group analyses showed awareness differed across error types, such that participants were aware of a greater proportion of substitution and sequence errors compared to omissions, perseverations, and action addition (i.e., utilization behavior) errors (z ≤ −3.2,p≤.002 for all analyses). Taken together these data suggest that error awareness and correction during the course of action is not related to error production or awareness measured via questionnaire discrepancy scores. Rather, direct assessment of error detection and correction may provide novel information about behavioral monitoring that can not be extrapolated from measures of dementia severity or traditional neuropsychological assessment.
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