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Working memory is a system that allows for the maintenance of goal-relevant information in the face of concurrent processing and/or distraction. Working memory plays a role in many real-world cognitive tasks such as reading, reasoning, planning, and problem-solving. It consists of multiple components, including domain-general mechanisms associated with attention control and domain-specific processes associated with short-term storage. It is also a limited capacity system and working memory capacity is highly correlated with general fluid intelligence. This chapter provides a review of cognitive models of working memory, the measurement of working memory capacity, and evidence linking working memory capacity and intelligence. Several theoretical frameworks, such as executive attention theory and process overlap theory, are also discussed.
Children with complex CHD are at risk for psychopathology such as severe attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder symptoms after congenital heart surgery.
The aim of this study was to investigate if children with Ventricular Septal Defect, Transposition of Great Arteries, or Tetralogy of Fallot have an increased occurrence of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder symptoms compared with the background population and to investigate differences between the three CHDs in terms of occurrence and appearance of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder symptoms.
A national register-based survey was conducted, including children aged 10–16 years with surgically corrected CHDs without genetic abnormalities and syndromes. The Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder-Rating Scale questionnaires were filled in by parents and school teachers.
In total, 159 out of 283 questionnaires were completed among children with CHDs and compared with age- and sex-matched controls. Children with CHDs had significantly increased inattention scores (p = 0.009) and total attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder scores (p = 0.008) compared with controls. Post hoc analyses revealed that children with Tetralogy of Fallot had significantly higher inattention scores compared with children both with Ventricular Septal Defect (p = 0.043) and controls (p = 0.004).
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder symptoms and inattention symptoms were significantly more frequent among children aged 10–16 years with CHDs, in particular in children with corrected Tetralogy of Fallot.
The dopamine transporter gene (DAT1), striatal network dysfunction, and visual memory deficits have been consistently reported to be associated with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). This study aimed to examine the effects of the DAT1 rs27048 (C)/rs429699 (T) haplotype on striatal functional connectivity and visual memory performance in youths with ADHD.
After excluding those who had excessive head motion, a total of 96 drug-naïve youths with ADHD and 114 typically developing (TD) youths were assessed with the resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging and the delayed matching to sample (DMS) task for visual memory. We examined the effects of ADHD, DAT1 CT haplotype, and the ADHD × CT haplotype interaction on the functional connectivity of five striatal seeds. We also correlated visual memory performance with the functional connectivity of striatal subregions, which showed significant diagnosis × genotype interactions.
Compared with TD youths, ADHD youths showed significant hypoconnectivity of the left dorsal caudate (DC) with bilateral sensorimotor clusters. Significant diagnosis × genotype interactions were found in the connectivity between the left DC and the right sensorimotor cluster, and between the right DC and the left dorsolateral prefrontal/bilateral anterior cingulate clusters. Furthermore, the connectivity of the left DC showing significant diagnosis × genotype interactions was associated with DMS performance in youths with ADHD who carried the DAT1 CT haplotype.
A novel gene-brain-behavior association between the left DC functional connectivity and visual memory performance in ADHD youths with the DAT1 rs27048 (C)/rs429699 (T) haplotype suggests a differential effect of DAT1 genotype altering specific brain function causing neuropsychological dysfunction in ADHD.
In this chapter, we describe the field of clinical neuropsychology and approaches to neuropsychological assessment. We critically review tests commonly used in neuropsychological assessment. Our critical review includes coverage of concurrent and criterion validity as well as other important aspects to construct validity for neuropsychological tests (i.e., relationship to functional and structural imaging, ecological validity of test scores). Throughout our review, we also address the use of neuropsychological tests with diverse individuals. Throughout the chapter, we emphasize the need for assessment of the credibility of neuropsychological test performance in order to interpret test results. We also discuss unique assessment issues that arise in neuropsychological assessment, with a focus on neuropsychological test selection issues, interpretation of scores from neuropsychological tests, and integration of test scores with other data. We also briefly discuss relatively unique ethical/professional issues that arise in the neuropsychological assessment context.
I argue that using information from a cognitive representation to guide the performance of a primary task is sufficient for intellectual attention, and that this account of attention is endorsed by scientists working in the refreshing, n-back, and retro-cue paradigms. I build on the work of Wayne Wu (2014), who developed a similarly motivated account, but for perceptual attention rather than intellectual attention. The way that I build on Wu’s account provides a principled way of responding to Watzl’s (2011a, 2017) challenge to Wu, according to which Wu’s style of account is unintuitively broad. The fact that I find unity in the practice of science puts us in a position to resist the claim that scientists studying intellectual attention are frequently failing to study the same thing.
The objective of our study was to assess attention processes and executive function in patients with narcolepsy with cataplexy (NT1). To do so, we compared the results with those of a control group from the general population using an extensive neuropsychological test battery.
We studied 28 patients with NT1 and 28 healthy control participants matched for age, gender, and educational level. They all completed questionnaires on sleepiness, anxiety, and depression symptoms. In addition, they underwent neuropsychological tests. The ability to maintain attention was assessed using three computer tasks with different levels of complexity.
Patients had significantly more daytime sleepiness than controls. A significant negative correlation between depression and disease duration was found in NT1 patients. The results of the anxiety questionnaire correlated with the presence of sleep paralysis. There were significant differences in information processing speed subtasks. Patients made significantly more omissions and generally reacted slower and more variably than controls in computerized tasks. As for executive function, patients performed worse in phonologic fluency tasks than controls. However, when the influence of processing speed on fluency tasks was statistically controlled, part of this significant difference disappeared.
Our results indicate that the negative correlation between depression and disease duration probably reflects progressive adaptation to the functional burden of the disease. Information processing speed plays a fundamental role in the expression of cognitive deficits. We emphasized the need to control the influence of processing speed and sustained attention in the neuropsychological assessment of NT1 patients.
Parkinson’s disease (PD) patients with mild cognitive impairment (PD-MCI) have an increased risk of developing dementia (PDD). As activities of daily living (ADL) impairment is mandatory for the diagnosis of PDD, assessing early signs of instrumental ADL (iADL) dysfunction, especially in PD-MCI, is essential. In PD, self- and caregiver-reported iADL performance is often confounded by motor dysfunction and mood. Objective and time-efficient performance-based measurements are needed to screen for cognitive-related iADL dysfunction. We evaluated the Erlangen Test of Activities of Daily Living in Mild Dementia and Mild Cognitive Impairment (ETAM) in PD and determined its value for characterizing a subgroup of PD-MCI patients with mild performance-based iADL impairment.
Twenty-one cognitively normal PD patients (PD-NC), 24 PD-MCI patients, and 18 healthy controls (HC) were analyzed. Assessments included the ETAM, a comprehensive neuropsychological test battery, iADL, mood, and motor measurements.
PD-MCI patients scored significantly lower on the ETAM total score compared to PD-NC patients (p = .002), whereas HC and PD-NC patients did not statistically differ. No HC scored lower than 27 points (diagnostic cutoff for mild iADL impairment); only PD-MCI patients scored below this cutoff (29.2%) suggesting the ETAM is able to characterize a PD-MCI subgroup with early iADL impairment. PD-MCI patients below the cutoff were more impaired in the attention domain (p = .04).
The ETAM is a potentially valuable clinical assessment, able to detect first signs of iADL dysfunction in PD-MCI. Further studies in larger cohorts are needed to evaluate the prognostic ability for predicting PDD.
Unlike the degenerative disorders that cause dementias, which stem from a modest number of aberrant processes, aging-related cognitive changes reflect a host of mechanisms. These include mechanisms associated with a person’s condition, e.g., drugs, pain, depression, and sleep disorders. They include mechanistic changes linked to the aging process, e.g., enhanced neural network noise, increased neighborhood density, age of acquisition effects, degraded selective engagement of neural networks, alteration of the balance between volitional and reactive intention and attention, declines in neurotransmitter function, and brain ontogenesis over the life span. They include changes best characterized as senescent physiology and best demonstrated in decline in functions essential to episodic memory formation related to impaired encoding in the hippocampal cornu amonis (CA) fields and slowed neurogenesis in the hippocampal dentate gyrus. Finally, they include processes best characterized as senescent pathology, the best understood being degradation of myelin and associated reduction of central conduction velocities and slowing of processing speed. No longer should cognitive changes associated with aging be viewed as a simple manifestation of a unitary aging process. The large number of mechanisms at play and their complexity offer many opportunities for therapeutic intervention.
An attractor network is used in computational neuroscience to model the neuronal processes important for cognitive functions such as memory as well as motor behaviors. These networks are composed of neurons with excitatory interconnections that can settle into a stable pattern of firing. This chapter describes how attractor networks in the cerebral cortex are important for short- and long-term memory, attention, and decision-making. It then discusses how the random firing of neurons can influence the stability of these networks by introducing stochastic noise, and how these effects are involved in probabilistic decision-making and are implicated in some disorders of cortical function, such as poor short-term memory, attention, and alterations of cognitive functions with aging. Further, this chapter describes how alterations in transmitters that occur with aging, including acetylcholine, dopamine, and norepinephrine, can impair the stability of these memory networks, resulting in poor memory and attention. This computational neuroscience approach has implications for treatment.
Our brains are continuously changing and these changes alter brain functions. With maturation, there is growth and unfortunately, even with healthy aging, decline. Aging-related decrements affect neurons and their connectivity, neurotransmitter systems, and even support systems such as glia. Aging affects some brain regions (frontal lobes and hippocampi) more than others. This book reviews and discusses aging-related changes and their influence on the major neurobehavioral domains, beginning with reviews of aging-related changes in anatomy and physiology. Subsequent chapters review cross-sectional and longitudinal studies of aging-related changes in sensory perception (vision, hearing, touch, smell, taste) and cognitive functions (memory, language, motor planning, attention, executive functions, emotions, creativity). In each chapter, mechanisms that may account for these changes are discussed. Declines related to aging per se are distinguished from declines related to aging-associated diseases. Final chapters discuss what can potentially be done to slow or reverse aging-related decline of cognitive functions, including exercise, cognitive rehabilitation, and pharmacological agents. It is hoped this book will help clinicians differentiate between normal aging processes and brain diseases, reduce the adverse effects of brain aging, and stimulate further research on how adverse effects of brain aging can be reversed, stopped, modified, or best managed.
Cognitive changes that accompany the gradual degradation of neural systems are countervailed by a set of attention-related processes that serve to reorganize and maintain function with advancing age. This chapter focuses on the potential role of the right hemisphere fronto-parietal network in maintenance of adequate sustained attention to the environment by older adults, as well as self-monitoring of changes in their cognition and behavior over time. Modulation of norepinephrine activity in the locus coeruleus, via its impact on this right lateralized network, may be of particular importance in increasing the capacity of older people to preserve cognitive functioning as a multitude of biological changes take place in their brains. We review studies demonstrating that noninvasive electrical brain stimulation to the right prefrontal cortex improves both sustained attention and error awareness, suggesting that this key interconnected hub region in the right hemisphere holds the potential to be exploited and upregulated in older adults to ameliorate deficits.
The chapter claims that speaker’s utterance when formulating intention is shaped not only by recipient design but also by salience effect. While fitting words into actual situational contexts the speaker is driven not only by the intent that the hearer recognizes what is meant as intended by the speaker, but also by individual salience that affects production subconsciously. The interplay of these social (recipient design) and individual factors (salience) shapes speaker utterance. Recipient design usually results in inductive sequences while salience effect triggers a deductive sequence.
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a developmental condition that often persists into adulthood with extensive negative consequences on quality of life. Despite emerging evidence indicating the genetic basis of ADHD, investigations into the familial expression of latent neurocognitive traits remain limited.
In a group of adult ADHD probands (n = 20), their unaffected first-degree relatives (n = 20) and typically developing control participants (n = 20), we assessed endophenotypic alterations in the default mode network (DMN) connectivity during resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging in relation to cognitive performance and clinical symptoms. In an external validation step, we also examined the dimensional nature of this neurocognitive trait in a sample of unrelated healthy young adults (n = 100) from the Human Connectome Project (HCP).
The results illustrated reduced anti-correlations between the posterior cingulate cortex/precuneus and right middle frontal gyrus that was shared between adult ADHD probands and their first-degree relatives, but not with healthy controls. The observed connectivity alterations were linked to higher ADHD symptoms that was mediated by performance in a sustained attention task. Moreover, this brain-based neurocognitive trait dimensionally explained ADHD symptom variability in the HCP sample.
Alterations in the default mode connectivity may represent a dimensional endophenotype of ADHD, hence a significant aspect of the neuropathophysiology of this disorder. As such, brain network organisation can potentially be employed as an important neurocognitive trait to enhance statistical power of genetic studies in ADHD and as a surrogate efficacy endpoint in the development of novel pharmaceuticals.
An accumulating body of evidence highlights the contribution of general cognitive processes, such as attention, to language-related skills.
The purpose of the present study was to explore how interference control (a subcomponent of selective attention) is affected in developmental dyslexia (DD) by means of control over simple stimulus-response mappings. Furthermore, we aimed to examine interference control in adults with DD across sensory modalities.
The performance of 14 dyslexic adults and 14 matched controls was compared on visual/auditory Simon tasks, in which conflict was presented in terms of an incongruent mapping between the location of a visual/auditory stimulus and the appropriate motor response.
In the auditory task, dyslexic participants exhibited larger Simon effect costs; namely, they showed disproportionately larger reaction times (RTs)/errors costs when the auditory stimulus and response were incongruent relative to RT/errors costs of non-impaired readers. In the visual Simon task, both groups presented Simon effect costs to the same extent.
These results indicate that the ability to control auditory selective attention is carried out less effectively in those with DD compared with visually controlled processing. The implications of this impaired process for the language-related skills of individuals with DD are discussed.
Language and communication are fundamental to the human experience, and, traditionally, spoken language is studied as an isolated skill. However, before propositional language (i.e., spontaneous, voluntary, novel speech) can be produced, propositional content or ‘ideas’ must be formulated.
This review highlights the role of broader cognitive processes, particularly ‘executive attention’, in the formulation of propositional content (i.e., ‘ideas’) for propositional language production.
Several key lines of evidence converge to suggest that the formulation of ideas for propositional language production draws on executive attentional processes. Larger-scale clinical research has demonstrated a link between attentional processes and language, while detailed case studies of neurological patients have elucidated specific idea formulation mechanisms relating to the generation, selection and sequencing of ideas for expression. Furthermore, executive attentional processes have been implicated in the generation of ideas for propositional language production. Finally, neuroimaging studies suggest that a widely distributed network of brain regions, including parts of the prefrontal and parietal cortices, supports propositional language production.
Theoretically driven experimental research studies investigating mechanisms involved in the formulation of ideas are lacking. We suggest that novel experimental approaches are needed to define the contribution of executive attentional processes to idea formulation, from which comprehensive models of spoken language production can be developed. Clinically, propositional language impairments should be considered in the context of broader executive attentional deficits.
In the wake of the increasing popularity of tattoos, the present study explored whether tattoos have an adverse impact on employees. Specifically, this research examined the relationship between visible tattoos and unwanted sexual attention, along with perceived sexual harassment climate and perceived inclusion climate as potential moderators of this relationship. With a sample of 417 restaurant and retail employees, the results from logistic regression analyses demonstrated that possessing a visible tattoo was associated with increased odds of experiencing unwanted sexual attention. Perceived inclusion climate attenuated this relationship, whereby individuals with visible tattoos were less likely to experience unwanted sexual attention in a more favorable climate. Although perceived sexual harassment climate was directly related to unwanted sexual attention, it did not moderate the visible tattoo-unwanted sexual attention relationship.
While much of the literature on bilingualism and cognition focuses on group comparisons (monolinguals vs bilinguals or language learners vs controls), here we examine the potential differential effects of intensive language learning on subjects with distinct language experiences and demographic profiles. Using an individual differences approach, we assessed attentional performance from 105 university-educated Gaelic learners aged 21–85. Participants were tested before and after beginner, elementary, and intermediate courses using tasks measuring i.) sustained attention, ii.) inhibition, and iii.) attention switching. We examined the relationship between attentional performance and Gaelic level, previous language experience, gender, and age. Gaelic level predicted attention switching performance: those in higher levels initially outperformed lower levels, however lower levels improved the most. Age also predicted performance: as age increased attention switching decreased. Nevertheless, age did not interact with session for any attentional measure, thus the impact of language learning on cognition was detectable across the lifespan.
The present study focused on parents’ social cue use in relation to young children's attention. Participants were ten parent–child dyads; all children were 36 to 60 months old and were either typically developing (TD) or were diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Children wore a head-mounted camera that recorded the proximate child view while their parent played with them. The study compared the following between the TD and ASD groups: (a) frequency of parent's gesture use; (b) parents’ monitoring of their child's face; and (c) how children looked at parents’ gestures. Results from Bayesian estimation indicated that, compared to the TD group, parents of children with ASD produced more gestures, more closely monitored their children's faces, and provided more scaffolding for their children's visual experiences. Our findings suggest the importance of further investigating parents’ visual and gestural scaffolding as a potential developmental mechanism for children's early learning, including for children with ASD.
Patients with essential tremor exhibit heterogeneous cognitive functioning. Although the majority of patients fall under the broad classification of cognitively “normal,” essential tremor is associated with increased risk for mild cognitive impairment and dementia. It is possible that patterns of cognitive performance within the wide range of normal functioning have predictive utility for mild cognitive impairment or dementia. These cross-sectional analyses sought to determine whether cognitive patterns, or “clusters,” could be identified among individuals with essential tremor diagnosed as cognitively normal. We also determined whether such clusters, if identified, were associated with demographic or clinical characteristics of patients.
Elderly subjects with essential tremor (age >55 years) underwent comprehensive neuropsychological testing. Domain means (memory, executive function, attention, visuospatial abilities, and language) from 148 individuals diagnosed as cognitively normal were partitioned using k-means cluster analysis. Individuals in each cluster were compared according to cognitive functioning (domain means and test scores), demographic factors, and clinical variables.
There were three clusters. Cluster 1 (n = 64) was characterized by comparatively low memory scores (p < .001), Cluster 2 (n = 39) had relatively low attention and visuospatial scores (p < .001), and Cluster 3 (n = 45) exhibited consistently high performance across all domains. Cluster 1 had lower Montreal Cognitive Assessment scores and reported more prescription medication use and lower balance confidence.
Three patterns of cognitive functioning within the normal range were evident and tracked with certain clinical features. Future work will examine the extent to which such patterns predict conversion to mild cognitive impairment and/or dementia.