Many cognitive abilities ‘naturally’ decline as we get older. The prevalence of Alzheimer’s and other dementias also increases with older age. Therefore, distinguishing dementia and milder neurocognitive impairments from normal age‐related cognitive change is a major challenge for clinicians and researchers.
Neuropsychological assessment plays a critical role in detecting subtle cognitive changes present in the early phase of a neurodegenerative disorder that may be missed during routine clinical evaluation. Neuropsychological assessment incorporates the administration of validated and standardised psychometric tests to assess intelligence, memory and other cognitive abilities. Comparison of an individual’s test scores to a normative reference group indicates whether the performance is at the expected level or impaired. Appropriate normative data matched to the characteristics of the individual being assessed is essential for valid interpretation of their test performance and to maximise diagnostic accuracy.
The Australian Neuropsychological Normative Study of Older Persons is being led by CHeBA researcher Dr Nicole Kochan in collaboration with Professor John R Crawford (University of Aberdeen) and other Australian researchers from ANU and Queensland University.