Some cognitive abilities ‘naturally’ decline as we get older. The prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias increases with older age. Therefore, distinguishing dementia and mild neurocognitive impairment 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 carefully assess intelligence, memory, processing speed, spatial and verbal abilities, higher conceptual thinking and other cognitive abilities. Comparison of an individual’s test scores to a normative reference group is used by neuropsychologists and researchers to indicate whether a person’s 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 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 conjunction with other CHeBA colleagues.
- To develop demographically-adjusted normative data from the baseline cohort of the Sydney Memory and Ageing Study and the Sydney Centenarian Study for a broad set of standardised psychometric tests commonly used in the diagnosis of dementia and Mild Cognitive Impairment. There is a growing recognition that robust norms - which exclude individuals who go on to develop dementia from the normative sample - may improve diagnostic accuracy and facilitate earlier detection of Alzheimer’s disease. Therefore, two sets of normative data will be available; one based on a conventional normative sample and the other on a robust normative sample.
- To develop a convenient, interactive on‐line norms calculator which will enable clinicians and researchers to quickly and accurately calculate demographically adjusted normative values for a number of neuropsychological tests and cognitive screening instruments.
- To investigate the influence of cultural, linguistic and educational factors on cognitive performance in persons from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds as a means of establishing a “correction” or adjustment which may minimise bias when comparing their test performance to standard normative data based on native English speakers.