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There has been increasing interest in the semantic cognitive system in schizophrenia. Recent findings suggest a possible breakdown of semantic information processing in this disorder. The current study attempts to further examine semantic organization in schizophrenia. Twenty-eight chronic, early-onset schizophrenic patients and 32 controls were matched for prcmorbid intelligence and compared in their ability to spontaneously cluster exemplars from a specific category during a fluency task. Using multidimensional scaling and clustering techniques, 11 exemplars occurring most frequently in both groups were chosen for examination of their relative “proximity” during word generation. Patients with schizophrenia showed a less stable two-dimensional organization of exemplars and were less likely to group exemplars into subordinate clusters than were normals. These results suggest that semantic networks arc disorganized in these patients. These findings may have some implications for the debate over the origin of “thought disorder” in schizophrenia. (JINS, 1996, 2, 267–273.)
Clinicians and families report that traumatic brain injury results in a variety of attention deficits. Numerous laboratory studies have documented slowing of information processing, alteration in event-related potentials, or difficulty attending to specific relevant task dimensions in the presence of redundant information. However, little is known about how these information processing abnormalities relate to observable behaviors in daily living or work environments, which presumably form the basis for clinicians’ and families’ reports. We developed a quantitative assessment of behavioral inattentiveness in both quiet and distracting environments, and demonstrated excellent interrater reliability. Using this assessment, we have studied 20 patients with recent traumatic brain injury and 20 demographically comparable control subjects. We have confirmed marked differences in behavioral attentivencss between patients and controls in both distracting and nondistracting environments. (JINS, 1996, 2, 274–281.)
Reading tests are assumed to be accurate estimates of premorbid intelligence, based on the belief that reading remains relatively stable following cerebral injury/disease. However, this assumption has been primarily inferred only from studies comparing differences in reading/intelligence measures between neurologically impaired and normal groups. The current study, using within-subject comparisons, compared the longitudinal stability of reading (WRAT-R/3) and intelligence (WAIS-R FIQ) scores for 39 individuals with cognitive dysfunction referred for repeat neuropsychological evaluation. Wilcoxon signed-ranks tests indicated that reading scores: (1) did not statistically change for those demonstrating intellectual decline (>0 point decline in FIQ), or for those who remained relatively stable (FIQ increase between 0 and 6 points) over retest, but (2) did significantly improve for those demonstrating intellectual improvement greater than 6 points. These results suggest that reading scores may be appropriately considered as “hold” tests for individuals who intellectually decline/remain stable over time, but not for those demonstrating significant intellectual improvement. Additionally, significant variability in reading score decline/improvement suggests that caution must be used when estimating premorbid intelligence based on WRAT-R/3 Reading scores. (JINS, 1996, 2, 282–285.)
One-hundred fifty-eight elderly Spanish-speaking U.S. residents (81 patients diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease and 77 subjects without dementia) were tested with Spanish-language versions of four brief cognitive assessment instruments: the Mini-Mental State Examination (S-MMSE), the Mental Status Questionnaire (S-MSQ), the Information-Memory-Concentration test (S-IMC), and the Orientation-Memory-Conccntration test (S-OMC). Within-group performances were highly correlated for all four instruments. All tests distinguished between the demented and nondemented groups, but best discrimination was achieved with the S-IMC, which correctly classified 98% of subjects. This version was also the best predictor of functional disability, as measured by impairments in instrumental activities of daily living. Within the normal comparison group, neither gender nor a subject's monolingual/bilingual status affected test performance. These four Spanish-language cognitive screening tasks may aid in the evaluation of dementia among Spanish-speaking patients. (J1NS, 1996, 2, 286–298.)
The direct and indirect effects of demographic, medical, and psychological variables on neuropsychological performance in elderly individuals were examined using a LISREL structural equation model. One-hundred fifty-six geriatric subjects were individually administered a comprehensive neuropsychological battery, an extensive medical history and demographics questionnaire, and the Neuropsychology Behavior and Affect Profile (a psychological assessment instrument). The model assessed the effects of five independent latent variables (medical history, psychological functioning, global mental status, education, and gender-related functioning) on two dependent latent variables (nonverbal and verbal neuropsychological functioning). The best fitting model revealed that three latent variables (medical history, global mental status, and gender-related functioning) had direct effects on neuropsychological functioning and that all five independent variables exhibited indirect effects. These findings suggest that the influence of demographic variables on neuropsychological functioning for geriatric persons is complex and that certain variables should not be interpreted independently of each other due to their significant moderating influences. (JINS, 1996, 2, 299–305.)
Neuropsychological functioning is reported to be impaired in patients suffering from obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS). This syndrome is characterized by nocturnal respiratory disturbances, blood oxygen desaturations, sleep fragmentation, and excessive daytime sleepiness. Opinions arc divided concerning the exact relationship between the observed cognitive deficits, nocturnal hypoxia, sleep disruption, and impaired daytime alertness. In the present study, morning neuropsychological function of 26 moderate to severe middle-aged sleep apneics is compared to that of 22 primary insomniacs. There were no performance differences on a range of neuropsychological tests among the two patient groups. In addition, the data suggest that morning alertness impairment, which is closely associated with a lack of slow wave sleep (SWS) and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, is of major importance in inducing poorer cognitive performance in patients with moderate to severe sleep apnea. (JINS, 1996, 2,306–314.)
Predicted performance experiments attempt to quantify an impaired individual's awareness of his or her deficit. These experiments measure perceived ability by the individual's prediction of his or her performance on a specific cognitive task and actual ability by his or her subsequent performance on that task. To date, the most comprehensive predicted performance experiment is the one proposed and implemented by McGlynn and Kaszniak (1991b). This experiment is potentially capable of removing a number of influences that may be confounded with deficit unawareness; however, it is not obvious what method of quantitative analysis best exploits this capability. In the present report, several possibilities are discussed. The limitations of McGlynn and Kaszniak's method are identified, and a more satisfying measure of deficit unawareness is proposed. (JINS, 1996, 2, 315–322.)
On the basis of what is known about the neural circuitry essential or normally involved in eyeblink classical conditioning (EBCC), the pattern of neurodegeneration in Huntington's disease (HD) would not appear to interfere with this type of learning. HD causes severe atrophy of the basal ganglia and thinning and shrinkage of the cerebral cortex. However, the hippocampus and hippocampal cholinergic system remain relatively intact, as does the cerebellum. Because the brain circuitry engaged in EBCC is neither lesioned nor disrupted in HD, it was predicted that HD patients would perform like normal control subjects in the 400-ms delay EBCC paradigm. Performance of seven patients with HD was compared to age-matched normals, with two control subjects matched to each HD patient. There were no differences in production of conditioned responses (CRs) between HD patients and normal control subjects, but the timing of the CR was abnormal in HD. Comparisons of HD patients to patients with other neurodegenerative diseases (probable Alzheimer's disease (PAD) and Down syndrome (DS) over the age of 35 with presumed Alzheimer-like neuropathology) and to patients with cerebellar lesions demonstrated significantly better EBCC performance in HD. Results suggest that the ability to acquire CRs is normal in HD, but the striatum may have some role in optimizing the timing of the CR. (JINS, 1996, 2, 323–334.)
A previous study of the performance of men with chronic unilateral focal brain lesions (due to wartime missile injury) on a standard test of line orientation suggested a left hemisphere (LH) as well as a right hemisphere (RH) contribution to visuospatial processing. The present study was designed to fractionate the variables that could underlie this unexpected finding and thereby to tease out the mechanisms involved in LH as compared with RH processing. A simpler (“purer”) version of the standard line orientation task was used, as were two other versions in which matching in an array and matching with distractors were measured. The findings confirmed the hypothesis of RH involvement in the purer task of metric measurement and suggested that the LH has an important role in keeping track of decisions and updating decisions in more complex aspects of line orientation judgment. (JINS, 1996, 2, 335–339.)
Recent modifications of the lexical model of oral reading make the prediction that under conditions where sublexical reading processes alone cannot achieve the target pronunciation (i.e., when words have exceptional spellings or when sublexical processes are impaired), patients with severe semantic impairment should have more difficulty reading aloud semantically impaired words than semantically retained words. In a battery of lexical-semantic and reading tasks, two neurologically normal control subjects and two subjects with probable Alzheimer's disease (AD) and only moderate semantic impairment read aloud all words accurately. One AD subject with severe semantic impairment was impaired in word reading but demonstrated no difference in reading words with regular and exceptional spellings. Another AD subject with severe semantic impairment read aloud without error virtually all regular and exception words. Neither severely impaired AD subject demonstrated any relationship between oral reading accuracy and semantic knowledge of exception words. These findings support a model of word reading incorporating lexical, nonsemantic processes by which lexical orthographic input representations directly activate lexical phonological output representations without the necessity of semantic mediation. (JINS, 1996, 2, 340–349.)
The ability to retrieve and monitor factual information varying in datedness (i.e., dated vs. contemporary) was examined in healthy older adults and patients in an early phase of Alzheimer's disease (AD). Subjects were given free recall and multiple-choice recognition tests of 48 general knowledge questions. For all questions not responded to in recall, subjects made fecling-of-knowing (FOK) judgments. Results indicated dementia-related deficits in both recall and recognition, although both groups showed better recall and recognition with the dated compared with the contemporary questions. Importantly, despite deficits in fact retrieval, the AD patients showed intact monitoring of stored knowledge, as indicated by equivalent FOK accuracy for both groups. In addition, FOK accuracy was similar for the dated and the contemporary information in both groups, suggesting independence between level of general knowledge and the ability to supervise information stored in memory. (JINS, 1996, 2, 350–358.)
Although the dorsal midbrain has been implicated in cognitive processes in animals, its role in humans is unclear. We report the neuropsychological and postmortem neuropathological findings of a 52-yr-old university professor who developed a profound dementia in association with a focal dorsal midbrain lesion. The patient's disorder appeared to result from a tuberculous granuloma based on the clinical course and autopsy results. Neuropsychologically, he exhibited a generalized impairment across most of the cognitive domains assessed. His deficits were not explained by impaired arousal, specific sensory or motor defects, depression, or hydrocephalus. Although there are inherent limitations to a single-case investigation, our observations are consistent with animal studies that have demonstrated that focal dorsal midbrain lesions may result in cognitive impairment. We propose that the dorsal midbrain is involved in cognitive processing via modulation of thalamocortical networks. (JINS, 1996, 2, 359–367.)
A neuropsychological investigation of 21 Persian Gulf veterans and 38 demographically matched controls was conducted in order to make a preliminary determination concerning presence of neuropsychological deficits associated with the Persian Gulf War experience. The neuropsychological test battery consisted of measures of complex attention, memory, and motor skills previously shown to be sensitive to exposure to environmental toxins. It was found that the Persian Gulf veteran group did not demonstrate substantial impairment, but an impairment index derived from 14 test variables was statistically significantly different from controls in the direction of poorer performance. (JINS, 1996, 2, 368–371.)