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Adolescence is a period of social, physical, and neurobiological transitions that may leave individuals more vulnerable to the development of internalizing and externalizing symptomatology. Extant research demonstrates that executive functioning (EF) is associated with psychopathology outcomes in adolescence; however, it has yet to be examined how EF and psychopathology develop transactionally over time. Data were collected from 167 adolescents (47% female, 13–14 years old at Time 1) and their primary caregiver over 4 years. At each time point, adolescents completed three behavioral tasks that capture the underlying dimensions of EF, and both adolescents and their primary caregiver completed measures of adolescent psychopathology. Latent growth curve modeling was used to test the associations between initial levels and trajectories of EF and psychopathology. Results indicated that higher initial levels of internalizing and externalizing symptomatology were associated with lower EF at Time 4 (controlling for Time 1 EF). Initial levels of EF did not predict changes in internalizing and externalizing symptomatology. These findings suggest that early psychopathology may be a risk factor for maladaptive EF development in adolescence.
The Weigl Colour-Form Sorting Test is a brief, widely used test of executive function. So far, it is unknown whether this test is specific to frontal lobe damage. Our aim was to investigate Weigl performance in patients with focal, unilateral, left or right, frontal, or non-frontal lesions.
We retrospectively analysed data from patients with focal, unilateral, left or right, frontal (n = 37), or non-frontal (n = 46) lesions who had completed the Weigl. Pass/failure (two correct solutions/less than two correct solutions) and errors were analysed.
A greater proportion of frontal patients failed the Weigl than non-frontal patients, which was highly significant (p < 0.001). In patients who failed the test, a significantly greater proportion of frontal patients provided the same solution twice. No significant differences in Weigl performance were found between patients with left versus right hemisphere lesions or left versus right frontal lesions. There was no significant correlation between performance on the Weigl and tests tapping fluid intelligence.
The Weigl is specific to frontal lobe lesions and not underpinned by fluid intelligence. Both pass/failure on this test and error types are informative. Hence, the Weigl is suitable for assessing frontal lobe dysfunction.
Rapid eye movement sleep behavior disorder (RBD) affects 33–46% of patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD) and may be a risk factor for neuropsychological and functional deficits. However, the role of RBD on neuropsychological functioning in PD has yet to be fully determined. We, therefore, examined differences in neurocognitive performance, functional capacity, and psychiatric symptoms among nondemented PD patients with probable RBD (PD/pRBD+) and without (PD/pRBD−), and healthy comparison participants (HC).
Totally, 172 participants (58 PD/pRBD+; 65 PD/pRBD−; 49 HC) completed an RBD sleep questionnaire, psychiatric/clinical questionnaires, performance-based and self-reported functional capacity measures, and underwent a comprehensive neuropsychological battery assessing attention/working memory, language, visuospatial function, verbal and visual learning and memory, and executive function.
Controlling for psychiatric symptom severity, the PD/pRBD+ group had poorer executive functioning and learning performance than the PD/pRBD− group and poorer neuropsychological functioning across all individual cognitive domains than the HCs. In contrast, PD/pRBD− patients had significantly lower scores than HCs only in the language domain. Moreover, PD/pRBD+ patients demonstrated significantly poorer medication management skills compared to HCs. Both PD groups reported greater depressive and anxiety severity compared to HCs; PD/pRBD+ group also endorsed greater severity of apathy compared to HCs.
The presence of pRBD is associated with poorer neuropsychological functioning in PD such that PD patients with pRBD have poorer cognitive, functional, and emotional outcomes compared to HC participants and/or PD patients without pRBD. Our findings underscore the importance of RBD assessment for improved detection and treatment of neuropsychological deficits (e.g., targeted cognitive interventions).
Episodic memory is impaired in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) dementia but thought to be relatively spared in behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia (bvFTD). This view is challenged by evidence of memory impairment in bvFTD. This study investigated differences in recognition memory performance between bvFTD and AD.
We performed a retrospective analysis on the recognition trial of the Rey Auditory Verbal Learning Test in patients with bvFTD (n = 85), AD (n = 55), and control participants (n = 59). Age- and education-adjusted between-group analysis was performed on the total score and indices of discriminative ability and response bias. Correlations between recognition and measures of memory, language, executive functioning, and construction were examined.
Patients with AD had a significantly lower total recognition score than patients with bvFTD (control 28.8 ± 1.5; bvFTD 24.8 ± 4.5; AD 23.4 ± 3.6, p < .01). Both bvFTD and AD had worse discriminative ability than controls (A’ control 0.96 ± 0.03; bvFTD 0.87 ± 0.03; AD 0.84 ± 0.10, p < .01), but there was no difference in response bias (B” control 0.9 ± 0.2; bvFTD 1.6 ± 1.47; AD 1.4± 1.4, p < .01). AD had worse discriminability than bvFTD (p < .05). Discriminability was associated with memory for both patient groups (median correlation coefficient r = .34) and additionally associated with language (r = .31), but not executive functioning (r = −.03) in bvFTD. Response bias was unrelated to other cognitive functions (r = −.02).
Discriminability, but not response bias, differentiated patients with bvFTD from AD. The presence of an impaired discrimination index suggests a “pure” (recognition) memory deficit in bvFTD.
Behavioral disorders at school have negative consequences for students' social development and academic achievement. A better understanding of their causes would help to develop more adapted prevention and intervention strategies. This study analyzes the association between behavioral disorders and executive dysfunctions in Elementary School students. A sample of 974 students from third to sixth grade of Primary School (aged 7 to 12), belonging to 30 schools in Asturias (Northern Spain), as well as their families and teachers, took part in this study. Behavioral disorders were assessed through teachers' completion of ACE rating-scale (Arias, Ayuso, Gil & Gonzalez, 2009). The frequency of occurrence of behaviors associated with deficits in nine executive functions (impulsivity, hyperactivity, emotional control, functional memory, planning, organization, cognitive flexibility, concentration and focus) was assessed by means of the EFE scale (developed by the authors) in its three forms (student self-report, and teachers and family rating-scales). Spearman correlation coefficients between scores obtained in ACE and the nine executive functioning components of EFE scale in its three forms were calculated. Statistically significant correlations between both measures were obtained. The strongest correlations were found between disruptive behavior and Impulsivity, Hyperactivity and Emotional Control. Results were consistent for the three forms of the EFE scale, being correlations higher when teachers were the informant. This study highlights the relevance of considering executive functioning components for the prevention and treatment of behavioral disorders.
Patients with schizophrenia commonly show deficits in executive functioning that allow a person to make plans, solve problems, do many tasks simultaneously and adapt to unexpected conditions. Executive dysfunction is associated with very simple and automatic activities, such as walking in schizophrenia patients. However, no study exists about its relation to postural control in these patients.
To investigate the effect of executive functioning on postural control using dual task paradigms.
Fifteen clinically stable schizophrenia outpatients and 15 healthy controls were enrolled in the study. Postural control was assessed with bilateral stance test using the Balance Master system under three different conditions with eyes open and eyes closed (EC): without a task, during a cognitive task (verbal fluency) and during a motor task (holding a cup of water).
Standing on a foam surface with EC resulted in higher postural sway velocities in schizophrenia patients under all conditions (P = 0.009, P = 0.032, P = 0.013). During a cognitive task, both schizophrenia patients and healthy controls showed higher velocities on firm surface with EC in comparison to the condition without a task (P = 0.023). Both schizophrenia patients and healthy controls did not show higher postural sway velocities during the motor task.
The effect of verbal fluency on postural sway shows the relationship between executive functioning and postural control in schizophrenia patients. Foam surface also higher postural sway velocities in schizophrenia patients in EC condition suggesting the difficulties in integrating the proprioceptive information in the absence of visual input.
Disclosure of interest
The authors have not supplied their declaration of competing interest.
Affective neuroscience and scar theories propose that increased excessive worry, the hallmark symptom of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), predicts future declines in executive functioning (EF). However, the preponderance of cross-sectional designs used to examine between-person chronic worry–EF relationships has blocked progress on understanding their potentially causal within-person associations. Accordingly, this study used bivariate dual latent change score (LCS) models to test whether within-person increased GAD severity might relate to future reduced EF.
Community-dwelling adults (N = 2581, 46 years on average, s.d. = 11.40, 54.71% female) were assessed for GAD symptom severity (Composite International Diagnostic Interview-Short Form) across three waves, spaced about 9 years apart. Three aspects of EF [inhibition, set-shifting, and mixing costs (MCs; a measure related to common EF)], were assessed with stop-and-go switch tasks. Participants responded to 20 normal and 20 reverse single-task block trials and 32 mixed-task switch block trials. EF tests were administered at time 2 (T2) and time 3 (T3), but not at time 1 (T1).
After controlling for T1 depression, LCS models revealed that within-person increased T1 − T2 GAD severity substantially predicted future reduced T2 − T3 inhibition and set-shifting (both indexed by accuracy and latency), and MC (indexed by latency) with moderate-to-large effect sizes (|d| = 0.51–0.96).
Results largely support scar theories by offering preliminary within-person, naturalistic evidence that heightened excessive worry can negatively predict future distinct aspects of cognitive flexibility. Effectively targeting pathological worry might prevent difficulties arising from executive dysfunction.
Most older adults perceive themselves as good drivers; however, their perception may not be accurate, and could negatively affect their driving safety. This study examined the accuracy of older drivers’ self-awareness of driving ability in their everyday driving environment by determining the concordance between the perceived (assessed by the Perceived Driving Ability [PDA] questionnaire) and actual (assessed by electronic Driving Observation Schedule [eDOS]) driving performance. One hundred and eight older drivers (male: 67.6%; age: mean = 80.6 years, standard deviation [SD] = 4.9 years) who participated in the study were classified into three groups: underestimation (19%), accurate estimation (29%), and overestimation (53%). Using the demographic and clinical functioning information collected in the Candrive annual assessments, an ordinal regression showed that two factors were related to the accuracy of self-awareness: older drivers with better visuo-motor processing speed measured by the Trail Making Test (TMT)-A and fewer self-reported comorbid conditions tended to overestimate their driving ability, and vice versa.
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.
To examine the contributions of two aspects of executive functioning (executive cognitive functions and behavioral control) to changes in diabetes management across emerging adulthood.
Two hundred and forty-seven high school seniors with type 1 diabetes were assessed at baseline and followed up for 3 years. The baseline assessment battery included performance-based measures of executive cognitive functions, behavioral control, IQ estimate (IQ-est), and psychomotor speed; self-report of adherence to diabetes regimen; and glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c) assay kits as a reflection of glycemic control.
Linear and quadratic growth curve models were used to simultaneously examine baseline performance on four cognitive variables (executive cognitive functions, behavioral control, IQ, and psychomotor speed) as predictors of indices of diabetes management (HbA1c and adherence) across four time points. Additionally, general linear regressions examined relative contributions of each cognitive variable at individual time points. The results showed that higher behavioral control at baseline was related to lower (better) HbA1c levels across all four time points. In contrast, executive cognitive functions at baseline were related to HbA1c trajectories, accounting for increasingly more HbA1c variance over time with increasing transition to independence. IQ-est was not related to HbA1c levels or changes over time, but accounted instead for HbA1c variance at baseline (while teens were still living at home), above and beyond all other variables. Cognition was unrelated to adherence.
Different aspects of cognition play a different role in diabetes management at different time points during emerging adulthood years.
Healthy aging is accompanied by decline in a broad range of functions, including episodic learning and memory, working memory, attention, processing speed, and executive functioning. Significant efforts have therefore been made to augment these functions in healthy older adults. Two principal rehabilitation approaches have been employed: restorative and compensatory. Restorative approaches aim to repair the affected cognitive processes by repeated, adaptive practice. The majority of these restorative approaches have proved to be efficacious, and there is considerable evidence for maintenance of training effects weeks or months after the intervention was concluded. Transfer of restorative training approaches has been more elusive, although recent work has shown training effects on aspects of everyday life such as driving and instrumental activities of daily living. Compensatory approaches strive to bypass the impairment by teaching people strategies to bolster performance. Multimodal compensatory approaches that combine strategy training with counseling about other factors that affect cognition have been shown to help older adults learn new strategies, implement them to the benefit of cognitive performance, and adjust their views and expectations to better cope with the changes that occur during healthy aging.
Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is associated with poorer cognitive functioning. We used a developmental, genetically-sensitive approach to examine intelligence quotient (IQ) from early childhood to young adulthood among those with different ADHD courses to investigate whether changes in ADHD were reflected in differences in IQ. We also examined executive functioning in childhood and young adulthood among different ADHD courses.
Study participants were part of the Environmental Risk (E-Risk) Longitudinal Twin Study, a population-based birth cohort of 2232 twins. We assessed ADHD in childhood (ages 5, 7, 10 and 12) and young adulthood (age 18). We examined ADHD course as reflected by remission, persistence and late-onset. IQ was evaluated at ages 5, 12 and 18, and executive functioning at ages 5 and 18.
ADHD groups showed deficits in IQ across development compared to controls; those with persistent ADHD showed the greatest deficit, followed by remitted and late-onset. ADHD groups did not differ from controls in developmental trajectory of IQ, suggesting changes in ADHD were not reflected in IQ. All ADHD groups performed more poorly on executive functioning tasks at ages 5 and 18; persisters and remitters differed only on an inhibitory control task at age 18.
Differences in ADHD course – persistence, remission and late-onset – were not directly reflected in changes in IQ. Instead, having ADHD at any point across development was associated with lower average IQ and poorer executive functioning. Our finding that individuals with persistent ADHD have poorer response inhibition than those who remitted requires replication.
Children reared in institutions experience profound deprivation that is associated with both heightened levels of psychopathology and deficits in executive functioning (EF). It is unclear whether deficits in EF among institutionally-reared children serve as a vulnerability factor that increases risk for later psychopathology. It is also unclear whether this putative association between EF and psychopathology is transdiagnostic (i.e. cuts across domains of psychopathology), or specific to a given syndrome. Thus, we examined whether global deficits in EF mediate the association between severe childhood neglect and general v. specific psychopathology in adolescence.
The sample consisted of 188 children from the Bucharest Early Intervention Project, a longitudinal study examining the brain and behavioral development of children reared in Romanian institutions and a comparison group of never-institutionalized children. EF was assessed at age 8, 12, and 16 using a well-validated measure of neuropsychological functioning. Psychopathology was measured as general (P) and specific internalizing (INT) and externalizing (EXT) factors at age 12 and 16.
Institutionally-reared children had lower global EF and higher general psychopathology (P) at all ages compared to never-institutionalized children. Longitudinal path analysis revealed that the effect of institutionalization on P at age 16 operated indirectly through poorer EF from ages 8 to 12. No indirect effects involving EF were observed for INT or EXT at age 16.
We conclude that stable, global deficits in EF serve as a cognitive endophenotype that increases transdiagnostic vulnerability to psychopathology in adolescence among those who have experienced profound early neglect.
To determine the perceived 5-year outcome of Goal Management Training (GMT) for individuals with chronic acquired brain injury and executive dysfunction, when compared to a nonspecific psychoeducational intervention (Brain Health Workshop, BHW).
Of the 67 subjects in the initial randomized controlled trial [Tornås et al. (2016). Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society, 1–17], 50 (GMT, n = 21; BHW, n = 29) subjects returned written consent and questionnaires (54% male, age 45.8 ± 10.9 years). The 5-year follow-up consisted of two questionnaires, including the Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function for daily life executive function (EF) and Quality of Life after Brain Injury to assess health-related quality of life (HRQoL). Changes related to daily life EF and HRQoL were assessed pre-treatment, post-treatment, 6-month follow-up, and 5-year follow-up. Data were analyzed using a 2 × 4 mixed-design ANOVA.
The findings indicate that GMT is efficacious in improving EF and HRQoL 6-month post-treatment. However, these changes failed to remain significant at 5-year follow-up.
Data from 50 participants receiving either GMT or BHW suggested that the significant GMT-related improvements on perceived EF and HRQoL observed at 6-month follow-up were no longer present at 5-year follow-up. These findings indicate a need to promote maintenance of interventions post-treatment.
Objectives: Expressive suppression (i.e., effortful regulation of overt affect) has a deleterious impact on executive functioning (EF). This relationship has potential ramifications for daily functioning, especially among older adults, because a close relationship exists between EF and functional independence. However, past research has not directly examined whether expressive suppression impacts instrumental activities of daily living (IADL). The present study examined this association among older adults. Methods: One hundred ten community-dwelling older adults completed a self-report measure of acute (past 24 hr) and chronic (past 2 weeks) expressive suppression, a timed test of IADL, and the Behavioral Dyscontrol Scale as a measure of EF. Results: High chronic expressive suppression was related to slow IADL performance beyond covariates (age, IQ, depression), but only for individuals with low EF. High acute expressive suppression was associated with lower accuracy on IADL tasks beyond covariates (IQ, depression), but this association was fully explained by EF. Conclusions: The current results suggest that expressive suppression is associated with less efficient and more error-prone IADL performance. EF fully accounted for the relationship between acute expressive suppression and IADL performance, showing that suppression is a risk factor for both poorer EF performance and functional lapses in daily life. Furthermore, individuals with weaker EF may be particularly vulnerable to the effect of chronic expressive suppression. (JINS, 2019, 25, 718–728)
There is substantial evidence that many depressed individuals experience impaired executive functioning. Understanding the causes of executive dysfunction in depression is clinically important because cognitive impairment is a substantial contributor to functional impairment. This study investigated whether elevated levels of an inflammatory cytokine [interleukin-6 (IL-6)] and/or higher body mass index (BMI) concurrently and/or prospectively accounted for the relationship between depressive symptoms and impaired executive functioning in adolescents.
A diverse, community sample of adolescents (N = 288; mean age = 16.33; 51.4% female; 59.0% African-American) completed assessments of height and weight, IL-6, depressive symptoms, and self-report/behavioral measures of executive functioning (selective attention, switching attention) and future orientation annually over 3 years. Adolescents experiencing acute illness or medical conditions that affect inflammation were excluded from analyses. Path analysis within a structural equation modeling framework simultaneously examined the concurrent and prospective relationships between BMI, IL-6, depressive symptoms, and the measures of cognitive functioning across three timepoints.
Across all timepoints, higher BMI was prospectively associated with higher levels of IL-6 and depressive symptoms, while higher levels of IL-6 were associated with worse performance on three behavioral and self-report measures of cognitive functioning. Higher depressive symptoms also were prospectively associated with elevated IL-6 and both higher depressive symptoms and a higher BMI predicted worse future executive functioning via increased IL-6.
More severe depressive symptoms and increased BMI may disrupt executive functioning via elevated IL-6.
Objectives: Individuals with moderate–severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) experience a transitory state of impaired consciousness and confusion often called posttraumatic confusional state (PTCS). This study examined the neuropsychological profile of PTCS. Methods: Neuropsychometric profiles of 349 individuals in the TBI Model Systems National Database were examined 4 weeks post-TBI (±2 weeks). The PTCS group was subdivided into Low (n=46) and High Performing PTCS (n=45) via median split on an orientation/amnesia measure, and compared to participants who had emerged from PTCS (n=258). Neuropsychological patterns were examined using multivariate analyses of variance and mixed model analyses of covariance. Results: All groups were globally impaired, but severity differed across groups (F(40,506)=3.44; p<.001; ŋp2 =.206). Rate of forgetting (memory consolidation) was impaired in all groups, but failed to differentiate them (F(4,684)=0.46; p=.762). In contrast, executive memory control was significantly more impaired in PTCS groups than the emerged group: Intrusion errors: F(2,343)=8.78; p<.001; ŋp2=.049; False positive recognition errors: F(2,343)=3.70; p<.05; ŋp2=.021. However, non-memory executive control and other executive memory processes did not differentiate those in versus emerged from PTCS. Conclusions: Executive memory control deficits in the context of globally impaired cognition characterize PTCS. This pattern differentiates individuals in and emerged from PTCS during the acute recovery period following TBI. (JINS, 2019, 25, 302–313)
The main aim of this study was to confirm the relationship between executive performance and salivary alpha-amylase (SAA) activity in a sample of 64 healthy children (39 boys), and compare it to the association of SAA output and salivary flow rate (SFR). Executive functioning was assessed via fluency, trail-making, rings and inhibition tasks from the Batería de Evaluación Neuropsicológica de la Función Ejecutiva en Niños [Battery of Neuropsychological Assessment for Executive Function in Children] (ENFEN), merged into an ENFEN total score. SAA activity, output, and SFR were measured at baseline, one minute before, and one minute after the end of a neuropsychological testing session. Our results confirmed a direct, linear and significant association between SAA activity and executive functioning, r(64) = .351, p < .05, and extended it to SAA output, r(64) =.431, p < .05. The mean level of SAA output was the best predictor of executive functioning (β = .431, p < .05) and explained 18.2 % of the variance in ENFEN total score. In sum, and compared to SAA activity, measuring SAA output may be a more precise and indirect marker to assess executive functioning in children.
Objective: While individuals with 22q11.2 deletion syndrome (22q11DS) are at increased risk for a variety of functional impairments and psychiatric disorders, including psychosis, not all individuals with 22q11DS experience negative outcomes. Efforts to further understand which childhood variables best predict adult functional outcomes are needed, especially those that investigate childhood executive functioning abilities. Methods: This longitudinal study followed 63 individuals with 22q11DS and 43 control participants over 9 years. Childhood executive functioning ability was assessed using both rater-based and performance-based measures and tested as predictors of young adult outcomes. Results: Childhood global executive functioning abilities and parent report of child executive functioning abilities were the most consistent predictors of young adult outcomes. The study group moderated the relationship between child executive functioning and young adult outcomes for several outcomes such that the relationships were stronger in the 22q11DS sample. Conclusion: Rater-based and performance-based measures of childhood executive functioning abilities predicted young adult outcomes in individuals with and without 22q11DS. Executive functioning could be a valuable target for treatment in children with 22q11DS for improving not only childhood functioning but also adult outcomes. (JINS, 2018, 24, 905–916)