A composite score for executive functioning, validated in Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI) participants with baseline mild cognitive impairment

Laura E. Gibbons, Adam C. Carle, R. Scott Mackin, Danielle J Harvey, Shubhabrata Mukherjee, Philip Insel, S. McKay Curtis, Dan M Mungas, Paul K. Crane

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

172 Scopus citations

Abstract

The Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI) measures abilities broadly related to executive function (EF), including WAIS-R Digit Symbol Substitution, Digit Span Backwards, Trails A and B, Category Fluency, and Clock Drawing. This study investigates whether a composite executive function measure based on these multiple indicators has better psychometric characteristics than the widely used individual components. We applied item response theory methods to 800 ADNI participants to derive an EF composite score (ADNI-EF) from the above measures. We then compared ADNI-EF with component measures in 390 longitudinally-followed participants with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) with respect to: (1) Ability to detect change over time; (2) Ability to predict conversion to dementia; (3) Strength of cross-sectional association with MRI-derived measures of structures involved in frontal systems, and (4) Strength of baseline association with cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) levels of amyloid β1-42, total tau, and phosphorylated tau181P. ADNI-EF showed the greatest change over time, followed closely by Category Fluency. ADNI-EF needed a 40 % smaller sample size to detect change. ADNI-EF was the strongest predictor of AD conversion. ADNI-EF was the only measure significantly associated with all the MRI regions, though other measures were more strongly associated in a few of the regions. ADNI-EF was associated with all the CSF measures. ADNI-EF appears to be a useful composite measure of EF in MCI, as good as or better than any of its composite parts. This study demonstrates an approach to developing a psychometrically sophisticated composite score from commonly-used tests.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)517-527
Number of pages11
JournalBrain Imaging and Behavior
Volume6
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 2012

Keywords

  • Composite scores
  • Executive function
  • Item response theory
  • Mild cognitive impairment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging

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