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Semantic integration and working memory both decline with age. However, it remains unclear whether the semantic integration decline is independent of working memory decline or whether it can be solely explained by the latter factor. In this event-related potentials experiment, 43 younger adults and 43 cognitively healthy older adults read semantically congruent and incongruent sentences. After controlling for working memory, behavioral accuracy was significantly lower in the older adults than in the younger adults. In addition, the semantic integration related N400 effect (incongruent vs. congruent) for correct trials was apparent in the whole brain in the younger adults but restricted to the posterior region in the older adults. The results clarify the relationship between working memory and semantic integration, and clearly demonstrate that semantic integration decline is independent of working memory decline during aging.
Individual learner factors play an important role in how a task is performed. This requires a perspective that draws on the theory and research that addresses the psychology of the learner – what we call the psychological perspective on TBLT. Chapter 5 surveys the large body of research on the role of cognitive aptitudes (including working memory) in mediating the effects of different instructional tasks on language performance and acquisition. The chapter will also discuss the influence of affective factors such as motivation and language anxiety on task performance and outcome. A key focus of this chapter is how these psychological variables mediate the performance of a task and the learning that results.
Previous research in mild cognitive impairment (MCI) suggests that visual episodic memory impairment may emerge before analogous verbal episodic memory impairment. The current study examined working memory (WM) test performance in MCI to assess whether patients present with greater visual versus verbal WM impairment. WM performance was also assessed in relation to hippocampal occupancy (HO), a ratio of hippocampal volume to ventricular dilation adjusted for demographic variables and intracranial volume.
Jak et al. (2009) (The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 17, 368–375) and Edmonds, Delano-Wood, Galasko, Salmon, & Bondi (2015) (Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, 47(1), 231–242) criteria classify patients into four groups: little to no cognitive impairment (non-MCI); subtle cognitive impairment (SCI); amnestic MCI (aMCI); and a combined mixed/dysexecutive MCI (mixed/dys MCI). WM was assessed using co-normed Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale-IV (WAIS-IV) Digit Span Backwards and Wechsler Memory Scale-IV (WMS-IV) Symbol Span Z-scores.
Between-group analyses found worse WMS-IV Symbol Span and WAIS-IV Digit Span Backwards performance for mixed/dys MCI compared to non-MCI patients. Within-group analyses found no differences for non-MCI patients; however, all other groups scored lower on WMS-IV Symbol Span than WAIS-IV Digit Span Backwards. Regression analysis with HO as the dependent variable was statistically significant for WMS-IV Symbol Span performance. WAIS-IV Digit Span Backwards performance failed to reach statistical significance.
Worse WMS-IV Symbol Span performance was observed in patient groups with measurable neuropsychological impairment and better WMS-IV Symbol Span performance was associated with higher HO ratios. These results suggest that visual WM may be particularly sensitive to emergent illness compared to analogous verbal WM tests.
Psychiatric and neurodegenerative illnesses are characterized by cognitive impairments, in particular deficits in working memory, decision-making, and executive functions including cognitive flexibility. However, the neuropharmacology of these cognitive functions is poorly understood. The serotonin (5-HT) 2A receptor might be a promising candidate for the modulation of cognitive processes. However, pharmacological studies investigating the role of this receptor system in humans are rare. Recent evidence demonstrates that the effects of Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) are mediated via agonistic action at the 5-HT2A receptor. Yet, the effects of LSD on specific cognitive domains using standardized neuropsychological test have not been studied.
We examined the acute effects of LSD (100 µg) alone and in combination with the 5-HT2A antagonist ketanserin (40 mg) on cognition, employing a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, within-subject design in 25 healthy participants. Executive functions, cognitive flexibility, spatial working memory, and risk-based decision-making were examined by the Intra/Extra-Dimensional shift task (IED), Spatial Working Memory task (SWM), and Cambridge Gambling Task (CGT) of the Cambridge Neuropsychological Test Automated Battery.
Compared to placebo, LSD significantly impaired executive functions, cognitive flexibility, and working memory on the IED and SWM, but did not influence the quality of decision-making and risk taking on the CGT. Pretreatment with the 5-HT2A antagonist ketanserin normalized all LSD-induced cognitive deficits.
The present findings highlight the role of the 5-HT2A receptor system in executive functions and working memory and suggest that specific 5-HT2A antagonists may be relevant for improving cognitive dysfunctions in psychiatric disorders.
Consciousness has evolved and is a feature of all animals with sufficiently complex nervous systems. It is, therefore, primarily a problem for biology, rather than physics. In this review, I will consider three aspects of consciousness: level of consciousness, whether we are awake or in a coma; the contents of consciousness, what determines how a small amount of sensory information is associated with subjective experience, while the rest is not; and meta-consciousness, the ability to reflect upon our subjective experiences and, importantly, to share them with others. I will discuss and compare current theories of the neural and cognitive mechanisms involved in producing these three aspects of consciousness and conclude that the research in this area is flourishing and has already succeeded to delineate these mechanisms in surprising detail.
Objectives: Noninvasive brain stimulation methods, including high-definition transcranial direct current stimulation (HD-tDCS) and theta burst stimulation (TBS) have emerged as novel tools to modulate and explore brain function. However, the relative efficacy of these newer stimulation approaches for modulating cognitive functioning remains unclear. This study investigated the cognitive effects of HD-tDCS, intermittent TBS (iTBS) and prolonged continuous TBS (ProcTBS) and explored the potential of these approaches for modulating hypothesized functions of the left posterior parietal cortex (PPC). Methods: Twenty-two healthy volunteers attended four experimental sessions in a cross-over experimental design. In each session, participants either received HD-tDCS, iTBS, ProcTBS or sham, and completed cognitive tasks, including a divided attention task, a working memory maintenance task and an attention task (emotional Stroop test). Results: The results showed that compared to sham, HD-tDCS, iTBS and ProcTBS caused significantly faster response times on the emotional Stroop task. The effect size (Cohen’s d) was d = .32 for iTBS (p < .001), .21 for ProcTBS (p = .01) and .15 for HD-tDCS (p = .044). However, for the performance on the divided attention and working memory maintenance tasks, no significant effect of stimulation was found. Conclusions: The results suggest that repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation techniques, including TBS, may have greater efficacy for modulating cognition compared with HD-tDCS, and extend existing knowledge about specific functions of the left PPC.
The aggregation of neurocognitive deficits among the non-psychotic first-degree relatives of adult- and childhood-onset schizophrenia patients suggests that there may be a common etiology for these deficits in childhood- and adult-onset illness. However, there is considerable heterogeneity in the presentation of neurobiological abnormalities, and whether there are differences in the extent of familial transmission for specific domains of cognitive function has not been systematically addressed.
We employed variance components analysis, as implemented in SOLAR-Eclipse, to evaluate the evidence of familial transmission for empirically derived composite scores representing attention, working memory, verbal learning, verbal retention, and memory for faces. We contrast estimates for adult- and childhood-onset schizophrenia families and matched community control pedigrees, and compare our findings to previous reports based on analogous neurocognitive assessments.
We observed varying degrees of familial transmission; attention and working memory yielded comparable, significant estimates for adult-onset and community control pedigrees; verbal learning was significant for childhood-onset and community control pedigrees; and facial memory demonstrated significant familial transmission only for childhood-onset schizophrenia. Model-fitting analyses indicated significant differences in familiality between adult- and childhood-onset schizophrenia for attention, working memory, and verbal learning.
By comprehensively assessing a wide range of neurocognitive domains in adult- and childhood-onset schizophrenia families, we provide additional support for specific neurocognitive domains as schizophrenia endophenotypes. Whereas comparable estimates of familial transmission for certain dimensions of cognitive functioning support a shared etiology of adult- and childhood-onset neurocognitive function, observed differences may be taken as preliminary evidence of partially divergent multifactorial architectures.
Despite the critical role of working memory (WM) in neuropsychiatric conditions, there remains a dearth of available WM-targeted interventions. Gamma and theta oscillations as measured with electroencephalography (EEG) or magnetoencephalography (MEG) reflect the neural underpinnings of WM. The WM processes that fluctuate in conjunction with WM demands are closely correlated with WM test performance, and their EEG signatures are abnormal in several clinical populations. Novel interventions such as transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) have been shown to modulate these oscillations and subsequently improve WM performance and clinical symptoms. Systematically identifying pathological WM-related gamma/theta oscillatory patterns with EEG/MEG and developing ways to target them with interventions such as TMS is an active area of clinical research. Results hold promise for enhancing the outcomes of our patients with WM deficits and for moving the field of clinical neuropsychology towards a mechanism-based approach. (JINS, 2019, XX, XXX–XXX)
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and schizophrenia are neurodevelopmental disorders which share substantial overlap in cognitive deficits during adulthood. However, treatment evaluation in ASD and treatment comparisons across ASD and schizophrenia are limited by a dearth of empirical work establishing the validity of a standard cognitive battery across ASD and schizophrenia. Promisingly, the MATRICS Consensus Cognitive Battery (MCCB) has been validated in schizophrenia and encompasses cognitive domains that are impacted in ASD. Thus, this study aimed to establish MCCB's generalizability from schizophrenia to ASD.
Community-residing adults with schizophrenia (N = 100) and ASD (N = 113) underwent MCCB assessment. Using multigroup confirmatory factor analysis, MCCB's transdiagnostic validity was evaluated by examining whether schizophrenia and ASD demonstrate the same configuration, magnitude, and directionality of relationships within and among measures and their underlying cognitive domains.
Across schizophrenia and ASD, the same subsets of MCCB measures inform three cognitive domains: processing speed, attention/working memory, and learning. Except for group means in category fluency, continuous performance, and spatial span, both groups show vastly comparable factor structures and characteristics.
To our knowledge, this study is the first to establish the validity of a standard cognitive battery in adults with ASD and furthermore the first to establish a cognitive battery's comparability across ASD and schizophrenia. Cognitive domain scores can be compared across new samples using weighted sums of MCCB scores resulting from this study. These findings highlight MCCB's applicability to ASD and support its utility for standardizing treatment evaluation of cognitive outcomes across the autism-schizophrenia spectrum.
Working memory (WM) deficits are seen as a core deficit in schizophrenia, implicated in the broad cognitive impairment seen in the illness. Here we examine the impact of WM storage of a single item on the operation of other cognitive systems.
We studied 37 healthy controls (HCS) and 43 people with schizophrenia (PSZ). Each trial consisted of a sequence of two potential target stimuli, T1 and T2. T1 was a letter presented for 100 ms. After delays of 100–800 ms, T2 was presented. T2 was a 1 or a 2 and required a speeded response. In one condition, subjects were instructed to ignore T1 but respond to T2. In another condition, they were required to report T1 after making their speeded response to T2 (i.e. to make a speeded T2 response while holding T1 in WM).
PSZ were dramatically slowed at responding to T2 when T1 was held in WM. A repeated measures ANOVA yielded main effects of group, delay, and condition with a group by condition interaction (p's < 0.001). Across delays, the slowing of the T2 response when required to hold T1 in memory, relative to ignoring T1, was nearly 3 times higher in PSZ than HCS (633 v. 219 ms).
Whereas previous studies have focused on reduced storage capacity, the present study found that PSZ are impaired at performing tasks while they are successfully maintaining a single item in WM. This may play a role in the broad cognitive impairment seen in PSZ.
Adverse caregiving, for example, previous institutionalization (PI), is often associated with emotion dysregulation that increases anxiety risk. However, the concept of developmental multifinality predicts heterogeneity in anxiety outcomes. Despite this well-known heterogeneity, more work is needed to identify sources of this heterogeneity and how these sources interact with environmental risk to influence mental health. Here, working memory (WM) was examined during late childhood/adolescence as an intra-individual factor to mitigate the risk for separation anxiety, which is particularly susceptible to caregiving adversities. A modified “object-in-place” task was administered to 110 youths (10–17 years old), with or without a history of PI. The PI youths had elevated separation anxiety scores, which were anticorrelated with morning cortisol levels, yet there were no group differences in WM. PI youths showed significant heterogeneity in separation anxiety symptoms and morning cortisol levels, and WM moderated the link between caregiving and separation anxiety and mediated the association between separation anxiety and morning cortisol in PI youth. Findings suggest that (a) institutional care exerts divergent developmental consequences on separation anxiety versus WM, (b) WM interacts with adversity-related emotion dysregulation, and (c) WM may be a therapeutic target for separation anxiety following early caregiving adversity.
Objectives: Reduction in the amount of information (storage capacity) retained in working memory (WM) has been associated with sleep loss. The present study examined whether reduced WM capacity is also related to poor everyday sleep quality and, more importantly, whether the effects of sleep quality could be dissociated from the effects of depressed mood and age on WM. Methods: In two studies, WM was assessed using a short-term recall task, producing behavioral measures for both the amount of retained WM information (capacity) and how precise the retained WM representations were (precision). Self-report measures of sleep quality and depressed mood were obtained using questionnaires. Results: In a sample of college students, Study 1 found that poor sleep quality and depressed mood could independently predict reduced WM capacity, but not WM precision. Study 2 generalized these sleep- and mood-related WM capacity effects to a community sample (aged 21–77 years) and further showed that age was associated with reduced WM precision. Conclusions: Together, these findings demonstrate dissociable effects of three health-related factors (sleep, mood, and age) on WM representations and highlighte the importance of assessing different aspects of WM representations (e.g., capacity and precision) in future neuropsychological research.
This study examines the effects of two cognitive abilities—language analytic ability (LAA) and working memory (WM)—on language learning under five different instructional conditions. One hundred fifty eighth-grade English as a foreign language learners underwent a 2-hr treatment session. They were divided into five groups based on whether and when they received form-focused instruction. One group received pretask instruction on the linguistic target (English passive voice) before performing two narrative tasks; a second group received within-task feedback but no pretask instruction; a third group received both pretask instruction and within-task feedback; a fourth group received feedback after completing the tasks; and the fifth group only performed the tasks. The results showed that (a) LAA was predictive of the posttest scores of the group that only performed the communicative tasks and the group who received posttask feedback, (b) WM was associated with the learning outcomes of the two groups receiving within-task feedback, and (c) neither cognitive variable was implicated in the group that received pretask instruction before performing the tasks. The results suggest that the impact of LAA is evident when there is less external assistance and that WM is involved when learners face the heavy processing burden imposed by within-task feedback.
Although numerous studies have used functional neuroimaging to identify executive dysfunction in patients with bipolar disorder (BD), the findings are not consistent. The aim of this meta-analysis is to identify the most reliable functional anomalies in BD patients during performance of Executive Function (EF) tasks.
A web-based search was performed on publication databases to identify functional magnetic resonance imaging studies of BD patients performing EF tasks and a voxel-based meta-analytic method known as anisotropic Effect Size Signed Differential Mapping (ES-SDM) was used to identify brain regions which showed anomalous activity in BD patients compared with healthy controls (HC).
Twenty datasets consisting of 463 BD patients and 484 HC were included. Compared with HC, BD patients showed significant hypo-activation or failure of activation in the left striatum (p = 0.00007), supplementary motor area (BA 6, p = 0.00037), precentral gyrus (BA 6, p = 0.0014) and cerebellum (BA 37, p = 0.0019), and hyper-activation in the left gyrus rectus (BA 11, p ≈ 0) and right middle temporal gyrus (BA 22, p = 0.00031) during performance of EF tasks. Sensitivity and subgroup analyses showed that the anomaly of left striatum is consistent across studies and present in both euthymic and BD I patients.
Patients with BD consistently showed abnormal activation in the cortico-striatal system during performance of EF tasks compared with HC. Failure of activation of the striatum may be a reliable marker for impairment in performance of especially inhibition tasks by patients with BD.
People diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) often have difficulties on Theory of Mind (ToM) tasks involving social situations, such as ‘faux pas’. The objective of this study was to find the modality of presentation (visual, verbal, or mixed) that yields the best understanding of a ‘faux pas’, and the possible influence of other variables, including intelligence (IQ), age, and working memory. Thirty autistic children and 30 neurotypical children, all aged 7 to 12 years old and comparable in age and IQ, participated in this study. They were asked to resolve nine ‘faux pas’ stories (three per modality). Significant between-groups differences were found in the visual (t = 2.99, p = .004) and verbal modalities (t = 2.64, p = .011), such that the neurotypical (NT) group had higher scores than the ASD group. The ASD group’s comprehension was better via the mixed modality than the verbal modality (t = 2.48, p = .019). In addition, working memory had a bigger impact on Faux Pas understanding in cases of autism than in typical development (R2 explained between .19 and .28 of variance in Faux Pas test outcomes), and could therefore explain some of the difficulties previously reported in this area. Future research should include a measure of working memory and a control among the stimuli presented to test for group differences in faux pas understanding.
Objectives: Youth and young adults with pediatric-onset multiple sclerosis (MS) are vulnerable to executive dysfunction; however, some patients do not demonstrate functional deficits despite showing abnormalities on structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Cognitively intact adults with MS have shown enhanced activation patterns relative to healthy controls on working memory tasks. We aim to evaluate whether cognitively preserved pediatric-onset MS patients engage compensatory recruitment strategies to facilitate age-normative performance on a task of working memory. Methods: Twenty cognitively preserved patients (mean age=18.7±2.7 years; 15 female) and 20 age- and sex-matched controls (mean age=18.5±2.9 years; 15 female) underwent neuropsychological testing and 3.0 Tesla MRI, including structural and functional acquisitions. Patterns of activation during the Alphaspan task, a working memory paradigm with two levels of executive control demand, were examined via whole-brain and region of interest (ROI) analyses. Results: Across all participants, lower accuracy and greater activation of regions implicated in working memory were observed during the high demand condition. MS patients demonstrated 0.21 s longer response time than controls. ROI analyses revealed enhanced activation for pediatric-onset MS patients relative to controls in the right middle frontal, left paracingulate, right supramarginal, and left superior parietal gyri during the low executive demand condition, over and above differences in response time. MS patients also demonstrated heightened activation in the right supramarginal gyrus in the high executive demand condition. Conclusions: Our findings suggest that pediatric-onset MS patients may engage compensatory recruitment strategies during working memory processing. (JINS, 2019, 25, 432–442)
Cognitive impairments in substance use disorders have been extensively researched, especially since the advent of cognitive and computational neuroscience and neuroimaging methods in the last 20 years. Conceptually, altered cognitive function can be viewed as a hallmark feature of substance use disorders, with documented alterations in the well-known “executive” domains of attention, inhibition/regulation, working memory, and decision-making. Poor cognitive (sometimes referred to as “top-down”) regulation of downstream motivational processes—whether appetitive (reward, incentive salience) or aversive (stress, negative affect)—is recognized as a fundamental impairment in addiction and a potentially important target for intervention. As addressed in this special issue, cognitive impairment is a transdiagnostic domain; thus, advances in the characterization and treatment of cognitive dysfunction in substance use disorders could have benefit across multiple psychiatric disorders. Toward this general goal, we summarize current findings in the abovementioned cognitive domains of substance use disorders, while suggesting a potentially useful expansion to include processes that both precede (precognition) and supersede (social cognition) what is usually thought of as strictly cognition. These additional two areas have received relatively less attention but phenomenologically and otherwise are important features of substance use disorders. The review concludes with suggestions for research and potential therapeutic targeting of both the familiar and this more comprehensive version of cognitive domains related to substance use disorders.
Two experiments investigated the effects of case and verb agreement cues on the comprehension and production of which-questions in typically developing German children (aged 7–10) and adults. Our aims were to determine (a) whether they make use of morphosyntactic cues (case marking and verb agreement) for the comprehension of which-questions, (b) how these questions are processed, and (c) whether the presence and position of morphosyntactic cues available for the listener influence the speaker’s production of which-questions. Performance on a picture selection task with eye tracking shows that children with low working memory make less use of morphosyntactic cues than children with high working memory and adults when interpreting object questions. Gaze data of both groups reveal garden-path effects and revisions for object and passive questions, which can be explained by a constraint-based account. Furthermore, children’s difficulties with object questions are related to the type of disambiguation cue. In a question elicitation task with patient-initial items, children overall prefer production of passives, whereas adults’ productions depend on the availability of disambiguation cues for the listener.
Although prior research has shown that cognitive training may improve cognition for schizophrenia patients, it is currently unclear which domains of cognition should be targeted in training. One suggestion is to target low- or mid-level cognitive processes. In particular, working memory (WM) and processing speed (PS) have been named as two key areas of impairment in schizophrenia, and two domains of cognition that are linked to higher-order cognition and daily functioning. This study aimed to investigate the near-transfer (transfer of gains to related contexts), far-transfer (transfer of gains to unrelated contexts), and real-world gains associated with WM and PS training in schizophrenia.
Eighty-three participants with schizophrenia were recruited and randomly assigned to computerized WM training, PS training, or a no-training control group. Outcome measures included WM, PS, fluid intelligence, executive functioning, social cognition, and daily functioning and symptoms.
PS training led to significant gains in untrained PS tasks, as well as gains in far-transfer tasks that required speed of processing. WM training did not lead to gains in untrained WM tasks and showed inconsistent effects on some far-transfer tasks.
These results suggest some benefit of domain-specific cognitive training, specifically PS training, in schizophrenia. Far-transfer of gains to other cognitive domains and to real-world functioning may not occur after targeted WM or PS training, though non-specific effects (e.g. through behavioral activation, increased motivation) may lead to improvements in some tasks. Future studies should continue to investigate the mechanisms by which cognitive training may enhance cognition and functioning in schizophrenia.