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Research shows that cognitively healthy older adults with mild executive function (EF) weaknesses are vulnerable to the negative impacts of life complexity (or daily busyness) when performing instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs). However, past research assessed life complexity only at one timepoint, not capturing daily fluctuations. Importantly, fluctuations in busyness can themselves have deleterious impacts on functioning. This study extended past research by examining whether (1) variability in daily busyness would be more detrimental than level of busyness to performance of IADLs, and (2) EF assessed at home would moderate deleterious impact of busyness on IADLs.
Fifty-two community-dwelling older adults aged 60 to 95 completed daily IADL tasks and daily measures of EF and busyness via ecological momentary assessment, independently at home for 18 days.
(1) In a subset of participants with mild EF weaknesses, high variability in busyness across days was associated with fewer tasks completed correctly; and (2) across all participants (regardless of EF), high levels of daily busyness were associated with fewer tasks completed on time.
Findings indicate that high variability in daily busyness, potentially reflecting a lack of daily routine, was associated with IADL errors among cognitively healthy older adults with mild EF weaknesses. Additionally, consistently high levels of busyness were associated with failures to complete tasks, or failures to complete them on time, regardless of EF. These results further support the Contextually Valid Executive Assessment (ConVExA) model, which posits that EF and contextual factors interact to predict functional outcomes.
The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated gender disparities in some academic disciplines. This study examined the association of the pandemic with gender authorship disparities in clinical neuropsychology (CN) journals.
Author bylines of 1,018 initial manuscript submissions to four major CN journals from March 15 through September 15 of both 2019 and 2020 were coded for binary gender. Additionally, authorship of 40 articles published on pandemic-related topics (COVID-19, teleneuropsychology) across nine CN journals were coded for binary gender.
Initial submissions to these four CN journals increased during the pandemic (+27.2%), with comparable increases in total number of authors coded as either women (+23.0%) or men (+25.4%). Neither the average percentage of women on manuscript bylines nor the proportion of women who were lead and/or corresponding authors differed significantly across time. Moreover, the representation of women as authors of pandemic-related articles did not differ from expected frequencies in the field.
Findings suggest that representation of women as authors of peer-reviewed manuscript submissions to some CN journals did not change during the initial months of the COVID-19 pandemic. Future studies might examine how risk and protective factors may have influenced individual differences in scientific productivity during the pandemic.
Executive functioning (EF) is known to be associated with performance of instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs). However, prior research has found that the degree to which EF fluctuates was more predictive of self-reported cognitive and IADL lapses than was average EF performance. One source of such EF fluctuations is engagement in an emotion regulation strategy known as expressive suppression (ES). Importantly, ES has also been shown to relate to IADL performance, presumably due to its impact on EF. However, past research is limited due to assessing IADLs only in the laboratory or via self-report. The present study examined (a) the association of daily EF and ES fluctuations with performance of actual IADL tasks in participants’ homes, and (b) whether any significant association between ES fluctuations and daily IADLs would be mediated by daily EF variability.
Participants were 52 older adults aged 60 to 95. Over the course of 18 days while at home, participants completed daily IADL tasks as well as daily measures of EF and ES via ecological momentary assessment.
Contrary to our hypothesis, average EF across days predicted at-home IADLs above and beyond daily EF variability, which itself was also predictive. ES variability also predicted daily IADLs, and this association was fully mediated by average daily EF.
Daily fluctuations in ES appear to have a deleterious impact on performance of IADLs at home, likely due to the impact of such fluctuations on EF, although the average level of EF capacity is also important.
Meta-tasking (MT) is an aspect of executive functioning (EF) that involves the ability to branch (i.e., to apply “if-then” rules) and to effectively interleave sub-goals of one task with sub-goals of another task. As such, MT is crucial for successful planning, coordination, and execution of multiple complex tasks in daily life. Traditional tests of EF fail to adequately measure MT. This study examined whether Condition 4 of the Color-Word Interference Test (CWIT-4; the inhibition/switching condition that requires branching) predicted MT beyond Condition 3 (CWIT-3; inhibition-only condition) and beyond other subtests from the Delis–Kaplan Executive Function System (D-KEFS) that have a switching condition.
Ninety-eight non-Hispanic white community-dwelling older adults completed the first four subtests of the D-KEFS and an ecologically valid measure of MT.
Time to completion and total errors on CWIT-4 accounted for variance in MT above and beyond CWIT-3 and beyond the switching conditions of other D-KEFS subtests. Results remained virtually unchanged when controlling for demographics and general cognitive status.
Among older adults, CWIT-4 is more strongly associated with MT than other D-KFES tasks. Future research should examine whether CWIT-4 relates to lapses in instrumental activities of daily living among older adults above and beyond other EF tests.
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.
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)
Objectives: Expressive suppression (ES) is an emotion-regulation strategy that is associated with poorer performance on subsequently administered tests of executive functioning (EF). It is not known, however, how far into the future ES interferes with EF. This study examined whether (a) ES negatively affects performance on EF tests repeated 1 year after the initial administration (presumably through interference with learning, leading to a reduced practice effect), and (b) whether such an effect, if seen, is unique to EF or whether it also affects lower-order cognitive processes needed for EF test performance. Methods: Sixty-six non-demented community-dwelling older adults were randomly assigned to either an ES group or control group. Executive and non-executive tests were administered before and immediately following the exposure to an emotionally evocative video, and then again at 1-year follow-up. Groups were compared at 1-year follow-up on tests of EF and lower-order processes, to examine whether the previously demonstrated impact of ES on EF is evident only immediately following the experimental manipulation (Franchow & Suchy, 2017), or also at 1-year follow-up. Results: The results showed that participants who engaged in ES continued to exhibit poorer performance on EF tests 1 year later. This effect was not present for performance on tests of lower-order processes. Conclusions: These results suggest that the use of ES before an EF task can interfere with the ability to benefit from exposure to that task, thereby negatively affecting future performance. (JINS, 2019, 25, 29–38)
Objectives: Accurate detection of executive dysfunction in neuropsychological assessments is complicated by the fact that executive functioning (EF) is vulnerable to temporary disruption (i.e., lapses), with more frequent lapses in older adulthood. Effortful regulation of affect (i.e., expressive suppression) is a well-known source of executive lapses in younger adults, but the generalizability of this depleting effect to older adults is unknown. The purpose of this study was to (1) determine whether EF is subject to depletion via expressive suppression and (2) to examine whether this effect is unique to EF, or whether it also applies to lower-order component processes in older adults. Methods: Ninety-seven non-demented, community-dwelling older adults were randomly assigned to either an expressive suppression group or control group. We compared performance of the groups on a battery of tests measuring EF and component processes both before and after exposure to emotionally evocative stimuli. Results: Consistent with the hypothesized depletion effect, suppressing participants showed an attenuated practice effect on post-manipulation EF relative to controls, while performance on lower-order component processes was unaffected by suppression. Conclusions: These results suggest that depletion contributes to executive lapses in older adulthood. (JINS, 2017, 23, 341–351)
Objectives: Good glycemic control is an important goal of diabetes management. Late adolescents with type 1 diabetes (T1D) are at risk for poor glycemic control as they move into young adulthood. For a subset of these patients, this dysregulation is extreme, placing them at risk for life-threatening health complications and permanent cognitive declines. The present study examined whether deficiency in emotional decision making (as measured by the Iowa Gambling Task; IGT) among teens with T1D may represent a neurocognitive risk factor for subsequent glycemic dysregulation. Methods: As part of a larger longitudinal study, a total of 241 high-school seniors (147 females, 94 males) diagnosed with T1D underwent baseline assessment that included the IGT. Glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c), which reflects glycemic control over the course of the past 2 to 3 months, was also assessed at baseline. Of the 241,189 (127 females, 62 males, mean age=17.76, mean HbA1c=8.11) completed HbA1c measurement 1 year later. Results: Baseline IGT performance in the impaired range (per norms) was associated with greater dysregulation in glycemic control 1 year later, as evidenced by an average increase in HbA1c of 2%. Those with normal IGT scores (per norms) exhibited a more moderate increase in glycemic control, with an HbA1c increase of 0.7%. Several IGT scoring approaches were compared, showing that the total scores collapsed across all trials was most sensitive to change in glycemic control. Conclusions: IGT assessment offers promise as a tool for identifying late adolescents at increased risk for glycemic dysregulation. (JINS, 2017, 23, 204–213)
Objectives Growing evidence demonstrates that (a) executive functioning (EF) becomes deleteriously affected by engagement in the emotion regulation strategy known as expressive suppression and (b) EF shows considerable functional and neuroanatomical overlap with motor output. The current study aimed to bridge these two literatures by examining the relationships between naturally occurring expressive suppression and several different aspects of motor output, including action planning, action learning, and motor-control speed and accuracy. In addition, we investigated whether any identified relationships could be explained by EF. Methods Fifty-one healthy young adults completed selected subtests from the Delis-Kaplan Executive Function System as indices of EF, a self-report measure of expressive suppression, and a computerized motor sequencing task (Push Turn Taptap task; PTT) designed to assess action planning, action learning, and motor control speed and accuracy. Results Hierarchical regressions using each aspect of PTT performance as the dependent variable revealed that higher than usual self-reported expressive suppression on the day of testing (relative to the 2 weeks preceding testing) was associated with longer action-planning latencies. This relationship was fully explained by EF. No other PTT variables related to expressive suppression on the day of testing. Conclusions These results suggest that increased expressive suppression in daily life is associated with slower action planning, an aspect of motor output that is reliant on EF, highlighting the importance of factors that lead to intra-individual fluctuations in EF and motor performance. (JINS, 2016, 22, 671–681)
Although cognitive decline is typically associated with decreasing practice effects (PEs) (presumably due to declining memory), some studies show increased PEs with declines in cognition. One explanation for these inconsistencies is that PEs reflect not only memory, but also rebounds from adapting to task novelty (i.e., novelty effect), leading to increased PEs. We examined a theoretical model of relationships among novelty effects, memory, cognitive decline, and within-session PEs. Sixty-six older adults ranging from normal to severely impaired completed measures of memory, novelty effects, and two trials each of Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale, 4thEdition Symbol Search and Coding. Interrelationships among variables were examined using regression analyses. PEs for Symbol Search and Coding (a) were related to different proposed PE components (i.e., memory and novelty effects), such that novelty effect predicted Symbol Search PE (R2=.239, p<.001) and memory predicted Coding PE (R2=.089, p=.015), and (b) showed different patterns across stages of cognitive decline, such that the greatest cognitive decline was associated with smallest Coding PE (R2=.125, p=.004), whereas intermediate cognitive decline was associated with the greatest Symbol Search PE (R2=.097, p=.040). The relationship between cognitive decline and PE for Symbol Search was partially mediated by novelty effect among older adults with abnormal cognitive decline (model R2=.286, p<.001). These findings (a) suggest that PE is not a unitary construct, (b) offer an explanation for contradictory findings in the literature, and (c) highlight the need for a better understanding of component processes of PE across different neuropsychological measures. (JINS, 2016, 22, 453–466)
There is increasing evidence of neurocognitive dysfunction among child molesters, supporting the notion of brain anomalies among pedophiles. However, approximately half of child molesters are not pedophilic (i.e., are not primarily attracted to children), and neurocognitive differences between pedophilic (PED) and nonpedophilic (NPED) child molesters are not well understood. The purpose of this study was to assess neurocognition, specifically executive functioning (EF), among phallometrically defined PED and NPED child molesters, relative to nonsexual offenders (NSO). Participants (N = 89) were compared on seven EF domains. Results revealed that (a) child molesters exhibited an overall executive profile that was different from that of NSOs, with PEDs differing from NSOs but not from NPEDs; (b) child molesters on the whole performed better than NSOs on abstract reasoning and more poorly on inhibition; and (c) PEDs performed better than NPEDs on planning and exhibited better overall performance accuracy relative to NPEDs. These results suggest that PEDs exhibit a more deliberate, planful response style characterized by greater self-monitoring; whereas NPEDs appear to respond more impulsively. The current report further elucidates neurocognition among child molesters and highlights the need for future research examining subtypes of child molesters. (JINS, 2011, 17, 295–307)
Practice Effects (PE) have been gaining interest as an early marker of pathological cognitive decline among older adults, with cognitively compromised individuals exhibiting diminished or absent PE, presumably due to reduced ability to learn. However, the opposite pattern has also been observed, with MCI participants showing larger PEs than controls. In this prospective cohort study, we examined the possibility that individuals with incipient cognitive decline may be more “thrown” by task novelty, which may inflate PE due to diminished performance during the first exposure to the task. We assessed Novelty Effect (NE) and Learning (LRN) on a motor task in 50 community-dwelling independent older adults who expressed a concern about their cognition. Results showed that larger NE was associated with greater cognitive decline 17 months later, reliably classifying participants into decliners and nondecliners. LRN did not independently explain any variance in future cognitive change, but moderated the relationship between NE and decline and correlated with the level of cognition at baseline and follow-up. These findings highlight the differing contributions of NE and LRN to PE, and demonstrate that NE may be sensitive to depletion of cognitive reserve among individuals who are on the verge of exhibiting a reliable cognitive decline. (JINS, 2011, 17, 000–000)
Design Fluency (DF) is typically assumed to assess planning, cognitive flexibility, and fluency in generation of visual patterns, above and beyond contributions from motor speed (Delis, Kaplan, & Kramer, 2001; Ruff, 1998). The present study examined these assumptions, as little construct validation research has been done in the past. Sixty one community-dwelling elderly participants were administered the DF, Trail Making, and Letter Fluency tests from the Delis-Kaplan Executive Function System (D-KEFS), as well as electronically administered measures of motor planning and motor sequence fluency. Hierarchical regressions were used to parse out unique variance contributions to DF performance. The results showed that generation of novel designs (i.e., the first two trials on the D-KEFS DF) relied primarily on motor planning, the ability to generate novel motor actions, and, to a lesser extent, speed of drawing with a writing implement. In contrast, generation of unique designs while switching (i.e., the third trial on the D-KEFS DF) relied primarily on visual scanning and perhaps visual-attentional resources. These findings highlight the wisdom of interpreting the switching trial of the D-KEFS DF separately. Interestingly, cognitive flexibility did not contribute to performance on any of the three D-KEFS DF trials. (JINS, 2010, 16, 26–37.)
Although some evidence exists that child molesters may be characterized by structural and functional brain abnormalities, findings across studies are inconsistent. Past cognitive research in this area has been extensively criticized for relying on conceptually weak batteries, measures of questionable reliability, and poorly defined samples (i.e., failing to distinguish between pedophilic and nonpedophilic child molesters). The present study aimed to address the weaknesses of past research by comparing 40 child molesters (20 pedophilic and 20 nonpedophilic) and 20 demographically matched nonoffender controls on six well-defined neurocognitive composite scores of comparable reliability (i.e., semantic knowledge, executive functioning, processing speed, motor speed, auditory memory, and visual memory). Results indicated that pedophilic child molesters exhibit slower processing speed, nonpedophilic child molesters exhibit poorer semantic knowledge, and both molester groups exhibit executive weaknesses as compared to nonoffender controls. This study is the first to compare the two molester types on neurocognitive functions. The observed differences between the molester groups help explain inconsistencies in past research and demonstrate the need to distinguish between the two types of child molesters when studying neurobiologic underpinnings of sexual offending. (JINS, 2009, 15, 248–257.)
Atypical amygdala development may play a key role in the emergence of social disability and other symptoms of autism (Baron-Cohen et al., 2000; Schultz, 2005). The mechanisms by which this may occur have received little attention, however, and most support from behavioral and imaging studies has been concerned with socially relevant stimuli such as faces. Given the complexity of amygdala function and its known role in many other emotional tasks, we examined whether individuals with autism would demonstrate impaired performance on several tasks that have been shown to require activation of the amygdala but that do not have any explicit social meaning. Relative to a typical comparison group matched for age and IQ, our sample of 37 adolescents and adults with autism (mean age = 19.7 years) demonstrated equivalent facilitation for perception and learning of emotionally relevant stimuli. On each of four tasks, there were significant main effects of emotion condition on performance for both groups. Future research regarding atypical amygdala function and emotion processing in autism should consider whether the response to nonsocial emotion factors (including negative valence or high arousal) may be intact, despite difficulties in responding to socially relevant stimuli. (JINS, 2008, 14, 42–54.)
Three hypotheses for cognitive deficits among psychopaths were tested:
executive dysfunction, left hemisphere activation, and an interaction
between the two. Twenty-one psychopathic and 23 nonpsychopathic criminal
offenders identified with the Hare Psychopathy Checklist-Revised
participated in verbal and visual-spatial tasks during which the level of
executive processing demands was manipulated. Consistent with prior
research, psychopathic offenders made more errors than controls, but only
during the verbal task and only on trials with high executive demand.
Within those trials, most errors occurred when set-maintenance demands
were the highest. No response latency differences between groups were
found. (JINS, 2006, 12, 538–548.)This article is a replication and extension of
our previous study that was published in the JINS, volume 11,
2005. The article appeared as “State-dependent Executive Deficits
Among Psychopathic Offenders,” by Suchy & Kosson, 2005, JINS, 11:3, pp. 311–321. There
was no overlap in participants between the two studies.
Three hypotheses for cognitive deficits among psychopaths were tested:
Response modulation, left hemisphere activation, and an interaction
between the 2. Twenty-six psychopathic and 32 nonpsychopathic criminal
offenders identified with the Hare Psychopathy Checklist–Revised
were randomly assigned to left- and right-hemisphere activation groups. An
auditory processing task was administered, such that the ability to
classify nonverbal auditory signals and the ability to manage subgoals
were assessed under left- and right-hemisphere activation conditions. The
results showed that psychopaths' information processing in general,
including response modulation, was deleteriously affected by
left-hemisphere activation, supporting 2 of the 3 hypotheses tested. These
results offer an explanation for inconsistent findings of executive
deficits among psychopaths. (JINS, 2005, 11,
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