Motor imagery (MI, the mental representation of an action without engaging in its actual execution) is a therapeutically relevant technique to promote motor recovery after neurologic disorders. MI shares common neural and psychological bases with physical practice. Interestingly, both acute and progressive neurologic disorders impact brain motor networks, hence potentially eliciting changes in MI capacities. How experimental neuroscientists and medical practitioners should assess and take into account these changes in order to design fruitful interventions is largely unresolved. Understanding how the psychometric, behavioral and neurophysiological correlates of MI are impacted by neurologic disorders is required. To address this brain-behavior issue, we conducted a systematic review of MI data in stroke, Parkinson’s disease, spinal cord injury, and amputee participants. MI evaluation methods are presented. Redundant MI profiles, primarily based on psychometric and behavioral evaluations, emerged in each clinical population. When present, changes in the psychometric and behavioral correlates of MI were highly congruent with the corresponding motor impairments. Neurophysiological recordings yielded specific changes in cerebral activations during MI, which mirrored structural and functional reorganizations due to neuroplasticity. In this view, MI capacities may not be deteriorated per se by neurologic diseases resulting in chronic motor incapacities, but adjusted to the current state of the motor system. Literature-driven orientations for future clinical research are provided.
Our understanding of human tool use comes mainly from neuropsychology, particularly from patients with apraxia or action disorganization syndrome. However, there is no integrative, theoretical framework explaining what these neuropsychological syndromes tell us about the cognitive/neural bases of human tool use. The goal of the present article is to fill this gap, by providing a theoretical framework for the study of human tool use: The Four Constraints Theory (4CT). This theory rests on two basic assumptions. First, everyday tool use activities can be formalized as multiple problem situations consisted of four distinct constraints (mechanics, space, time, and effort). Second, each of these constraints can be solved by the means of a specific process (technical reasoning, semantic reasoning, working memory, and simulation-based decision-making, respectively). Besides presenting neuropsychological evidence for 4CT, this article shall address epistemological, theoretical and methodological issues I will attempt to resolve. This article will discuss how 4CT diverges from current cognitive models about several widespread hypotheses (e.g., notion of routine, direct and automatic activation of tool knowledge, simulation-based tool knowledge).
Intraoperative language mapping in awake surgery is typically conducted by asking the patient to produce automatic speech and to name objects. These tasks might not map language with sufficient accuracy, as some linguistic processes can only be triggered by tasks that use verbs and sentences. Verb and sentence processing tasks are currently used during surgery, albeit sparsely. Medline, PubMed, and Web of Science records were searched to retrieve studies focused on language mapping with verbs/sentences in awake surgery. We review the tasks reported in the published literature, spell out the language processes assessed by each task, list the cortical and subcortical regions whose stimulation inhibited language processing, and consider the types of errors elicited by stimulation in each region. We argue that using verb tasks allows a more thorough evaluation of language functions. We also argue that verb tasks are preferable to object naming tasks in the case of frontal lesions, as lesion and neuroimaging data demonstrate that these regions play a critical role in verb and sentence processing. We discuss the clinical value of these tasks and the current limitations of the procedure, and provide some guidelines for their development. Future research should aim toward a differentiated approach to language mapping – one that includes the administration of standardized and customizable tests and the use of longitudinal neurocognitive follow-up studies. Further work will allow researchers and clinicians to understand brain and language correlates and to improve the current surgical practice.
Children with sickle cell disease (SCD) suffer from systemic processes (e.g., chronic anemia, recurrent hypoxic-ischemic events, chronic inflammation) that have been associated with neurocognitive impairment in a range of clinical populations, but which have been largely understudied in relation to specific domains of cognitive functioning in children with SCD. This review focuses on episodic memory, as the hippocampus may be especially vulnerable to the systemic processes associated with SCD. The first part of the paper outlines the pathophysiology of SCD and briefly reviews the extant literature on academic and cognitive functioning in children with SCD, emphasizing the dearth of research on episodic memory. Next, the complex systemic processes of hypoxia and inflammation associated with SCD are reviewed, along with research that has associated these processes with hippocampal damage and memory impairment. The paper concludes with suggestions for future research that are informed, in part, by the literature on developmental amnesia.
Pseudoneglect, the tendency to be biased towards the left-hand side of space, is a robust and consistent behavioural observation best demonstrated on the task of visuospatial line bisection, where participants are asked to centrally bisect visually presented horizontal lines at the perceived centre. A number of studies have revealed that a representational form of pseudoneglect exists, occurring when participants are asked to either mentally represent a stimulus or explore a stimulus using touch in the complete absence of direct visuospatial processing. Despite the growing number of studies that have demonstrated representational pseudoneglect there exists no current and comprehensive review of these findings and no discussion of a theoretical framework into which these findings may fall. An important gap in the current representational pseudoneglect literature is a discussion of the developmental trajectory of the bias. The focus of the current review is to outline studies that have observed representational pseudoneglect in healthy participants, consider a theoretical framework for these observations, and address the impact of lifespan factors such as cognitive ageing on the phenomenon.
Historically, the insula was considered primary gustatory cortex. Now it is known to play a more comprehensive role in the processing of sensory information, including acting as primary cortex for interoceptive information, including autonomic nervous system mediated changes. As such, it is critical for emotional feeling in accord with the James-Lange theory, a role previously ascribed to the limbic system. Neuroimaged abnormal grey matter volumes or activity levels in the insula have been associated with schizophrenia, eating disorders, anxiety and mood disorders, conduct disorder, autism, addiction, and chronic pain. The significance of these abnormal activity patterns remains theoretical. Neuropsychological studies have linked dominant insula injury with various symptoms of aphasia, but its exact role in language processing remains uncertain as most cases involve lesions that extend into perisylvian language zones. Functional neuroimaging studies have found insula hyper-activations, typically in conjunction with anterior cingulate cortex, for all manner of experimental tasks including those involving perception, intentional action, and consciousness. Such neuroimaged activity is unlikely to be task-specific, but rather reflective of generic changes in autonomic activity in response to salience, homeostatic incongruence, or cognitive challenge.
In the past 20 years, many studies in the cognitive neurosciences have analyzed human ability to navigate in recently learned and familiar environments by investigating the cognitive processes involved in successful navigation. In this study, we reviewed the main experimental paradigms and made a cognitive-oriented meta-analysis of fMRI studies of human navigation to underline the importance of the experimental designs and cognitive tasks used to assess navigational skills. We performed a general activation likelihood estimation (ALE) meta-analysis of 66 fMRI experiments to identify the neural substrates underpinning general aspects of human navigation. Four individual ALE analyses were performed to identify the neural substrates of different experimental paradigms (i.e., familiar vs. recently learned environments) and different navigational strategies (allocentric vs. egocentric). Results of the general ALE analysis highlighted a wide network of areas with clusters in the occipital, parietal, frontal and temporal lobes, especially in the parahippocampal cortex. Familiar environments seem to be processed by an extended temporal-frontal network, whereas recently learned environments require activation in the parahippocampal cortex and the parietal and occipital lobes. Allocentric strategy is subtended by the same areas as egocentric strategy, but the latter elicits greater activation in the right precuneus, middle occipital lobe and angular gyrus. Our results suggest that different neural correlates are involved in recalling a well-learned or recently acquired environment and that different networks of areas subtend egocentric and allocentric strategies.
A body of work has developed over the last 20 years that explores facial emotion perception in Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). We identified 25 behavioural and functional imaging studies that tested facial emotion processing differences between patients with BPD and healthy controls through a database literature search. Despite methodological differences there is consistent evidence supporting a negative response bias to neutral and ambiguous facial expressions in patients. Findings for negative emotions are mixed with evidence from individual studies of an enhanced sensitivity to fearful expressions and impaired facial emotion recognition of disgust, while meta-analysis revealed no significant recognition impairments between BPD and healthy controls for any negative emotion. Mentalizing studies indicate that BPD patients are accurate at attributing mental states to complex social stimuli. Functional neuroimaging data suggest that the underlying neural substrate involves hyperactivation in the amygdala to affective facial stimuli, and altered activation in the anterior cingulate, inferior frontal gyrus and the superior temporal sulcus particularly during social emotion processing tasks. Future studies must address methodological inconsistencies, particularly variations in patients’ key clinical characteristics and in the testing paradigms deployed.
Social competence, i.e. appropriate or effective social functioning, is an important determinant of quality of life. Social competence consists of social skills, social performance and social adjustment. The current paper reviews social skills, in particular emotion recognition performance and its relationship with social adjustment in children with brain disorders. In this review, normal development and the neuro-anatomical correlates of emotion recognition in both healthy children and adults and in various groups of children with brain disorders, will be discussed. A systematic literature search conducted on PubMed, yielded nine papers. Emotion recognition tasks were categorized on the basis of task design and emotional categories to ensure optimal comparison across studies before an explorative meta-analysis was conducted. This meta-analytic review suggests that children with brain disorders show impaired emotion recognition, with the recognition of sad and fearful expressions being most impaired. Performance did not seem to be related to derivative measures of social adjustment. Despite the limited number of studies on a variety of brain disorders and control groups, outcomes were quite consistent across analyses and corresponded largely with the existing literature on development of emotion recognition in typically developing children. More longitudinal prospective studies on emotion recognition are needed to gain insight into recovery and subsequent development of children with distinct brain disorders. This will aid development, selection and implementation of interventions for improvement of social competence and quality of life in children with a brain disorder.
Testing of verbal fluency is currently part of standard presurgical neuropsychological assessment for patients with focal epilepsy. However, to date no systematic review has been conducted on semantic (SVF) and phonemic verbal fluency (PVF) in this patient group. The present review compares verbal fluency between healthy control subjects and subgroups of adult presurgical patients with focal epilepsy according to lateralisation and localisation of the dysfunction. PubMed was searched with a comprehensive search string. Abstracts of all studies and full-texts of potentially relevant studies were screened. Study quality was assessed by independent raters according to predefined criteria. 39 studies were included. Meta-analyses were performed to compare SVF and PVF across groups of patients with temporal (TLE) and frontal lobe epilepsy (FLE) as well as healthy controls (HC). Both patients with left- and right sided TLE were impaired on SVF and PVF compared to HC. Patients with left-sided TLE were slightly more impaired than patients with right-sided TLE. Patients with FLE showed a larger impairment in PVF than patients with TLE, whereas on SVF there was no difference between FLE and TLE. For TLE comparisons the study pool seems to have been sufficient, whereas more studies are needed to verify results for FLE. Semantic verbal fluency might not differentiate between FLE and TLE. While verbal fluency impairment was anticipated, especially in left-sided TLE and FLE patients, the impairment in patients with right-sided TLE was larger than expected. Results are discussed with regard to neuropsychological theory and practice.
Fragile X-associated tremor ataxia syndrome (FXTAS) is a recently identified X-linked neurodegenerative disorder affecting a proportion of premutation carriers of the Fragile X Mental Retardation 1 (FMR1) gene. Previous research suggests that cognitive and psychiatric features of FXTAS may include primary impairments in executive function and increased vulnerability to mood and anxiety disorders. A number of these reports, however, are based on overlapping cohorts or have produced inconsistent findings. A systematic review was therefore conducted to further elucidate the neuropsychiatric features characteristic of FXTAS. Fourteen papers met inclusion criteria for the review and were considered to represent nine independent FXTAS cohorts. Findings from the review suggest that the neuropsychiatric phenotype of FXTAS is characterised primarily by poorer performance on measures of executive function, working memory, information processing speed, and fine motor control when compared to matched comparison groups. Two studies were identified in which psychiatric symptoms in FXTAS were compared with controls, and these yielded mixed results. Overall the results of this review support previous reports that the neuropsychiatric profile of FXTAS is consistent with a dysexecutive fronto-subcortical syndrome. However, additional controlled studies are required to progress our understanding of FXTAS and how the neuropsychiatric profile relates to underlying pathological mechanisms.
At every point in the lifespan, the brain balances malleable processes representing neural plasticity that promote change with homeostatic processes that promote stability. Whether a child develops typically or with brain injury, his or her neural and behavioral outcome is constructed through transactions between plastic and homeostatic processes and the environment. In clinical research with children in whom the developing brain has been malformed or injured, behavioral outcomes provide an index of the result of plasticity, homeostasis, and environmental transactions. When should we assess outcome in relation to age at brain insult, time since brain insult, and age of the child at testing? What should we measure? Functions involving reacting to the past and predicting the future, as well as social-affective skills, are important. How should we assess outcome? Information from performance variability, direct measures and informants, overt and covert measures, and laboratory and ecological measures should be considered. In whom are we assessing outcome? Assessment should be cognizant of individual differences in gene, socio-economic status (SES), parenting, nutrition, and interpersonal supports, which are moderators that interact with other factors influencing functional outcome.
Psychopathology is increasingly viewed from a circuit perspective in which a disorder stems not from circumscribed anomalies in discrete brain regions, but rather from impairments in distributed neural networks. This focus on neural circuitry has rendered resting state functional connectivity MRI (rs-fcMRI) an increasingly important role in the elucidation of pathophysiology including attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Unlike many other MRI techniques that focus on the properties of discrete brain regions, rs-fcMRI measures the coherence of neural activity across anatomically disparate brain regions, examining the connectivity and organization of neural circuits. In this review, we explore the methods available to investigators using rs-fcMRI techniques, including a discussion of their relative merits and limitations. We then review findings from extant rs-fcMRI studies of ADHD focusing on neural circuits implicated in the disorder, especially the default mode network, cognitive control network, and cortico-striato-thalamo-cortical loops. We conclude by suggesting future directions that may help advance subsequent rs-fcMRI research in ADHD.
Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder that has been associated with atypical brain functioning. Functional connectivity MRI (fcMRI) studies examining neural networks in autism have seen an exponential rise over the last decade. Such investigations have led to the characterization of autism as a distributed neural systems disorder. Studies have found widespread cortical underconnectivity, local overconnectivity, and mixed results suggesting disrupted brain connectivity as a potential neural signature of autism. In this review, we summarize the findings of previous fcMRI studies in autism with a detailed examination of their methodology, in order to better understand its potential and to delineate the pitfalls. We also address how a multimodal neuroimaging approach (incorporating different measures of brain connectivity) may help characterize the complex neurobiology of autism at a global level. Finally, we also address the potential of neuroimaging-based markers in assisting neuropsychological assessment of autism. The quest for a neural marker for autism is still ongoing, yet new findings suggest that aberrant brain connectivity may be a promising candidate.
Normal aging and Alzheimer’s disease (AD) cause profound changes in the brain’s structure and function. AD in particular is accompanied by widespread cortical neuronal loss, and loss of connections between brain systems. This degeneration of neural pathways disrupts the functional coherence of brain activation. Recent innovations in brain imaging have detected characteristic disruptions in functional networks. Here we review studies examining changes in functional connectivity, measured through fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging), starting with healthy aging and then Alzheimer’s disease. We cover studies that employ the three primary methods to analyze functional connectivity—seed-based, ICA (independent components analysis), and graph theory. At the end we include a brief discussion of other methodologies, such as EEG (electroencephalography), MEG (magnetoencephalography), and PET (positron emission tomography). We also describe multi-modal studies that combine rsfMRI (resting state fMRI) with PET imaging, as well as studies examining the effects of medications. Overall, connectivity and network integrity appear to decrease in healthy aging, but this decrease is accelerated in AD, with specific systems hit hardest, such as the default mode network (DMN). Functional connectivity is a relatively new topic of research, but it holds great promise in revealing how brain network dynamics change across the lifespan and in disease.
The ascendancy of functional neuroimaging has facilitated the addition of network-based approaches to the neuropsychologist’s toolbox for evaluating the sequelae of brain insult. In particular, intrinsic functional connectivity (iFC) mapping of resting state fMRI (R-fMRI) data constitutes an ideal approach to measuring macro-scale networks in the human brain. Beyond the value of iFC mapping for charting how the functional topography of the brain is altered by insult and injury, iFC analyses can provide insights into experience-dependent plasticity at the macro level of large-scale functional networks. Such insights are foundational to the design of training and remediation interventions that will best facilitate recovery of function. In this review, we consider what is currently known about the origin and function of iFC in the brain, and how this knowledge is informative in neuropsychological settings. We then summarize studies that have examined experience-driven plasticity of iFC in healthy control participants, and frame these findings in terms of a schema that may aid in the interpretation of results and the generation of hypotheses for rehabilitative studies. Finally, we outline some caveats to the R-fMRI approach, as well as some current developments that are likely to bolster the utility of the iFC paradigm for neuropsychology.
Schizophrenia—a severe psychiatric condition characterized by hallucinations, delusions, loss of initiative and cognitive function—is hypothesized to result from abnormal anatomical neural connectivity and a consequent decoupling of the brain’s integrative thought processes. The rise of in vivo neuroimaging techniques has refueled the formulation of dysconnectivity hypotheses, linking schizophrenia to abnormal structural and functional connectivity in the brain at both microscopic and macroscopic levels. Over the past few years, advances in high-field structural and functional neuroimaging techniques have made it increasingly feasible to reconstruct comprehensive maps of the macroscopic neural wiring system of the human brain, know as the connectome. In parallel, advances in network science and graph theory have improved our ability to study the spatial and topological organizational layout of such neural connectivity maps in detail. Combined, the field of neural connectomics has created a novel platform that provides a deeper understanding of the overall organization of brain wiring, its relation to healthy brain function and human cognition, and conversely, how brain disorders such as schizophrenia arise from abnormal brain network wiring and dynamics. In this review we discuss recent findings of connectomic studies in schizophrenia that examine how the disorder relates to disruptions of brain connectivity.
Concussion is a highly prevalent injury in contact and collision sports that has historically been poorly understood. An influx of sport-concussion research in recent years has led to a dramatic improvement in our understanding of the injury’s defining characteristics and natural history of recovery. In this review, we discuss the current state of knowledge regarding the characteristic features of concussion and typical acute course of recovery, with an emphasis on the aspects of functioning most commonly assessed by clinicians and researchers (e.g., symptoms, cognitive deficits, postural stability). While prototypical clinical recovery is becoming better understood, questions remain regarding what factors (e.g., injury severity, demographic variables, history of prior concussions, psychological factors) may explain individual variability in recovery. Although research concerning individual differences in response to concussion is relatively new, and in many cases limited methodologically, we discuss the evidence about several potential moderators of concussion recovery and point out areas for future research. Finally, we describe how increased knowledge about the negative effects of and recovery following concussion has been translated into clinical guidelines for managing concussed athletes.
This article is a systematic review of the literature on divided attention assessment inclusive of a cognitive and motor task (balance or gait) for use in concussion management. The systematic review drew from published papers listed in PubMed, MEDLINE, EMBASE and CINAHL databases. The search identified 19 empirical research papers meeting the inclusion criteria. Study results were considered for the psychometric properties of the paradigms, the influence of divided attention on measures of cognition and postural control and the comparison of divided attention task outcomes between individuals with concussion and healthy controls (all samples were age 17 years or older). The review highlights that the reliability of the tasks under a divided attention paradigm presented ranges from low to high (ICC: 0.1–0.9); however, only 3/19 articles included psychometric information. Response times are greater, gait strategies are less efficient, and postural control deficits are greater in concussed participants compared with healthy controls both immediately and for some period following concussive injury, specifically under divided attention conditions. Dual task assessments in some cases were more reliable than single task assessments and may be better able to detect lingering effects following concussion. Few of the studies have been replicated and applied across various age groups. A key limitation of these studies is that many include laboratory and time-intensive measures. Future research is needed to refine a time and cost efficient divided attention assessment paradigm, and more work is needed in younger (pre-teens) populations where the application may be of greatest utility.
Since the late nineties, computerized neurocognitive testing has become a central component of sport-related concussion (SRC) management at all levels of sport. In 2005, a review of the available evidence on the psychometric properties of four computerized neuropsychological test batteries concluded that the tests did not possess the necessary criteria to warrant clinical application. Since the publication of that review, several more computerized neurocognitive tests have entered the market place. The purpose of this review is to summarize the body of published studies on psychometric properties and clinical utility of computerized neurocognitive tests available for use in the assessment of SRC. A review of the literature from 2005 to 2013 was conducted to gather evidence of test-retest reliability and clinical validity of these instruments. Reviewed articles included both prospective and retrospective studies of primarily sport-based adult and pediatric samples. Summaries are provided regarding the available evidence of reliability and validity for the most commonly used computerized neurocognitive tests in sports settings.
Apathy is commonly described following traumatic brain injury (TBI) and is associated with serious consequences, notably for patients’ participation in rehabilitation, family life and later social reintegration. There is strong evidence in the literature of the multidimensional nature of apathy (behavioural, cognitive and emotional), but the processes underlying each dimension are still unclear. The purpose of this article is first, to provide a critical review of the current definitions and instruments used to measure apathy in neurological and psychiatric disorders, and second, to review the prevalence, characteristics, neuroanatomical correlates, relationships with other neurobehavioural disorders and mechanisms of apathy in the TBI population. In this context, we propose a new multidimensional framework that takes into account the various mechanisms at play in the facets of apathy, including not only cognitive factors, especially executive, but also affective factors (e.g., negative mood), motivational variables (e.g., anticipatory pleasure) and aspects related to personal identity (e.g., self-esteem). Future investigations that consider these various factors will help improve the understanding of apathy. This theoretical framework opens up relevant prospects for better clinical assessment and rehabilitation of these frequently described motivational disorders in patients with brain injury.
Apraxia is one of the cognitive deficits that characterizes Alzheimer’s disease. Despite its prevalence and relevance to diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease, this topic has received little attention and is without comprehensive review. The review herein is aimed to fill this gap by first presenting an overview of the impairment caused in different clinical situations: pantomime of tool use, single tool use, real tool use, mechanical problem solving, function and manipulation knowledge tasks, and symbolic/meaningless gestures. On the basis of these results, we then propose alternative interpretations regarding the nature of the underlying mechanisms impaired by the disease. Also presented are principal methodological issues precluding firm conclusions from being drawn.
This review was aimed at systematically investigating the evidence suggesting that obese individuals demonstrate impaired performance on behavioural tasks examining executive functioning abilities. A systematic review of literature was carried out by searching five separate databases (PsycINFO, MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL and PubMed) and a hand search of relevant journals. Twenty-one empirical papers were identified from the search criteria and the results were considered in relation to different executive functioning domains. There is little consistency of results both within and across different domains of executive functioning. The review suggests that obese individuals show difficulties with decision-making, planning and problem-solving when compared to healthy weight controls, with fewer difficulties reported on tasks examining verbal fluency and learning and memory. A lack of replication and underreporting of descriptive data is a key limitation of studies in this area and further research is needed to examine the mechanisms underpinning the relationship between obesity and executive functioning.
Autobiographical memory refers to information and memories of personal life events, accumulated since childhood, which enable the construction of a feeling of identity and continuity. Autobiographical memory retrieval is a dynamic and reconstructive process, as mental representations change with the passage of time. This flexible aspect of memory is linked to one’s changing self and aspirations over time, that evolve according to our personal status and environment. Hence, any breakdown in the continuity of life involves a distortion of memory. Such distortions can be observed in stress-related psychiatric disorders, such as major depression or post-traumatic stress disorder, where autobiographical memory retrieval is characterized by overgenerality (i.e., the tendency to recall generic memories rather than specific events in response to cue words). Such memory disorders can be observed at different degrees in cancer patients. We will report studies focusing on the above-mentioned psychiatric disorders and cancer, and will attempt to establish a relation with autobiographical memory disturbances. The better understanding of such memory deficits could permit new pathophysiological hypotheses to emerge. Recommendations for future research that will enhance understanding of the factors that contribute to autobiographical memory in cancer are suggested.
Decades of research have examined the effects of cannabis on neurocognition. Recent advances in this field provide us with a better understanding of how cannabis use influences neurocognition both acutely (during intoxication) and non-acutely (after acute effects subside). Evidence of problems with episodic memory is one of the most consistent findings reported; however, several other neurocognitive domains appear to be adversely affected by cannabis use under various conditions. There is significant variability in findings across studies, thus a discussion of potential moderators is increasingly relevant. The purpose of this review was to 1) provide an update on research of cannabis’ acute and non-acute effects on neurocognition, with a focus on findings since 2007 and 2) suggest and discuss how neurodevelopmental issues and sex differences may influence cannabis effects on neurocognition. Finally we discuss how future investigations may lead to better understanding of the complex interplay among cannabis, stages of neurodevelopment, and sex on neurocognitive functioning.
The construct of associative prosopagnosia is strongly debated for two main reasons. The first is that, according to some authors, even patients with putative forms of associative visual agnosia necessarily present perceptual defects, that are the cause of their recognition impairment. The second is that in patients with right anterior temporal lobe (ATL) lesions (and sparing of the occipital and fusiform face areas), who can present a defect of familiar people recognition, with normal results on tests of face perception, the disorder is often multimodal, affecting voices (and to a lesser extent names) in addition to faces. The present review was prompted by the claim, recently advanced by some authors, that face recognition disorders observed in patients with right ATL lesions should be considered as an associative or amnestic form of prosopagnosia, because in them both face perception and retrieval of personal semantic knowledge from name are spared. In order to check this claim, we surveyed all the cases of patients who satisfied the criteria of associative prosopagnosia reported in the literature, to see if their defect was circumscribed to the visual modality or also affected other channels of people recognition. The review showed that in most patients the study had been limited to the visual modality, but that, when the other modalities of people recognition had been taken into account, the defect was often multimodal, affecting voice (and to a lesser extent name) in addition to face.
The term covert recognition refers to recognition without awareness. In the context of face recognition, it refers to the fact that some individuals show behavioural, electrophysiological or autonomic indices of recognition in the absence of overt, conscious recognition. Originally described in cases of people that have lost their ability to overtly recognize faces (acquired prosopagnosia, AP), covert face recognition has more recently also been described in cases of congenital prosopagnosia (CP), who never develop typical overt face recognition skills. The presence of covert processing in a developmental disorder such as CP is a particularly intriguing phenomenon, and its investigation is relevant for a variety of reasons. From a theoretical point of view, it is useful to help shed light on the cognitive and neural underpinnings of face recognition deficits. From a clinical point of view, it has the potential to aid the design of rehabilitation protocols aimed at improving face recognition skills in this population. In the current review we selectively summarize the recent literature on covert face recognition in CP, highlight its main findings, and provide a theoretical interpretation for them.
Language is typically a highly lateralized function, with atypically reduced or reversed lateralization linked to language impairments. Given the diagnostic and prognostic role of impaired language for autism spectrum disorders (ASDs), this paper reviews the growing body of literature that examines patterns of lateralization in individuals with ASDs. Including research from structural and functional imaging paradigms, and behavioral evidence from investigations of handedness, the review confirms that atypical lateralization is common in people with ASDs. The evidence indicates reduced structural asymmetry in fronto-temporal language regions, attenuated functional activation in response to language and pre-linguistic stimuli, and more ambiguous (mixed) hand preferences, in individuals with ASDs. Critically, the evidence emphasizes an intimate relationship between atypical lateralization and language impairment, with more atypical asymmetries linked to more substantive language impairment. Such evidence highlights opportunities for the identification of structural and functional biomarkers of ASDs, affording the potential for earlier diagnosis and intervention implementation.
Cognitive rehabilitation therapies for Alzheimer’s disease (AD) are becoming more readily available to the geriatric population in an attempt to curb the insidious decline in cognitive and functional performance. However, people with AD may have difficulty adhering to these cognitive treatments due to denial of memory deficits, compromised brain systems, cognitive incapacity for self-awareness, general difficulty following through on daily tasks, lack of motivation, hopelessness, and apathy, all of which may be either due to the illness or be secondary to depression. Cognitive rehabilitation training exercises are also labor intensive and, unfortunately, serve as a repeated reminder about the memory impairments and attendant functional consequences. In order for cognitive rehabilitation methods to be effective, patients must be adequately engaged and motivated to not only begin a rehabilitation program but also to remain involved in the intervention until a therapeutic dosage can be attained. We review approaches to cognitive rehabilitation in AD, neuropsychological as well as psychological obstacles to effective treatment in this population, and methods that target adherence to treatment and may therefore be applicable to cognitive rehabilitation therapies for AD. The goal is to stimulate discussion among researchers and clinicians alike on how treatment effects may be mediated by engagement in treatment, and what can be done to enhance patient adherence for cognitive rehabilitation therapies in order to obtain greater cognitive and functional benefits from the treatment itself.
Cognitive enhancement strategies have gained recent popularity and have the potential to benefit clinical and non-clinical populations. As technology advances and the number of cognitively healthy adults seeking methods of improving or preserving cognitive functioning grows, the role of electronic (e.g., computer and video game based) cognitive training becomes more relevant and warrants greater scientific scrutiny. This paper serves as a critical review of empirical evaluations of publically available electronic cognitive training programs. Many studies have found that electronic training approaches result in significant improvements in trained cognitive tasks. Fewer studies have demonstrated improvements in untrained tasks within the trained cognitive domain, non-trained cognitive domains, or on measures of everyday function. Successful cognitive training programs will elicit effects that generalize to untrained, practical tasks for extended periods of time. Unfortunately, many studies of electronic cognitive training programs are hindered by methodological limitations such as lack of an adequate control group, long-term follow-up and ecologically valid outcome measures. Despite these limitations, evidence suggests that computerized cognitive training has the potential to positively impact one’s sense of social connectivity and self-efficacy.
To evaluate the efficacy of cognitive rehabilitation therapies (CRTs) for mild cognitive impairment (MCI). Our review revealed a need for evidence-based treatments for MCI and a lack of a theoretical rehabilitation model to guide the development and evaluation of these interventions. We have thus proposed a theoretical rehabilitation model of MCI that yields key intervention targets–cognitive compromise, functional compromise, neuropsychiatric symptoms, and modifiable risk and protective factors known to be associated with MCI and dementia. Our model additionally defines specific cognitive rehabilitation approaches that may directly or indirectly target key outcomes–restorative cognitive training, compensatory cognitive training, lifestyle interventions, and psychotherapeutic techniques. Fourteen randomized controlled trials met inclusion criteria and were reviewed. Studies markedly varied in terms of intervention approaches and selected outcome measures and were frequently hampered by design limitations. The bulk of the evidence suggested that CRTs can change targeted behaviors in individuals with MCI and that CRTs are associated with improvements in objective cognitive performance, but the pattern of effects on specific cognitive domains was inconsistent across studies. Other important outcomes (i.e., daily functioning, quality of life, neuropsychiatric symptom severity) were infrequently assessed across studies. Few studies evaluated long-term outcomes or the impact of CRTs on conversion rates from MCI to dementia or normal cognition. Overall, results from trials are promising but inconclusive. Additional well-designed and adequately powered trials are warranted and required before CRTs for MCI can be considered evidence-based.
Neurocognitive impairments are prevalent in persons seeking treatment for alcohol use disorders (AUDs). These impairments and their physical, social, psychological and occupational consequences vary in severity across persons, much like those resulting from traumatic brain injury; however, due to their slower course of onset, alcohol-related cognitive impairments are often overlooked both within and outside of the treatment setting. Evidence suggests that cognitive impairments can impede treatment goals through their effects on treatment processes. Although some recovery of alcohol-related cognitive impairments often occurs after cessation of drinking (time-dependent recovery), the rate and extent of recovery is variable across cognitive domains and individuals. Following a long hiatus in scientific interest, a new generation of research aims to facilitate treatment process and improve AUD treatment outcomes by directly promoting cognitive recovery (experience-dependent recovery). This review updates knowledge about the nature and course of cognitive and brain impairments associated with AUD, including cognitive effects of adolescent AUD. We summarize current evidence for indirect and moderating relationships of cognitive impairment to treatment outcome, and discuss how advances in conceptual frameworks of brain-behavior relationships are fueling the development of novel AUD interventions that include techniques for cognitive remediation. Emerging evidence suggests that such interventions can be effective in promoting cognitive recovery in persons with AUD and other substance use disorders, and potentially increasing the efficacy of AUD treatments. Finally, translational approaches based on cognitive science, neurophysiology, and neuroscience research are considered as promising future directions for effective treatment development that includes cognitive rehabilitation.
Despite significant advances in the virologic management of HIV infection over the last two decades, effective treatments for HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders (HAND) remain elusive. While pharmacological interventions have yielded some success in improving neurocognitive outcomes in HIV, there is a dearth of rigorous studies examining the efficacy of cognitive rehabilitation for remediating HIV-associated neurocognitive impairment. This qualitative review summarizes and critiques the emerging literature on cognitive and behavioral treatments for HAND, which provides many reasons for optimism, but also has major limitations that underscore the scope of the work that lies ahead. Considering the notable real-world consequences of HAND, the development, validation, and clinical deployment of cognitive neurorehabilitation interventions tailored to the needs of persons living with HIV infection is a priority for clinical neuroAIDS investigators. In describing potential future directions for this endeavor, particular attention was paid to the application of cognitive neuropsychological principles in developing theory-driven approaches to managing HAND, improving everyday functioning, and enhancing HIV health outcomes.
Late preterm (LP) birth (34 0/7 - 36 6/7 weeks’ gestation) accounts for nearly three-fourths of all preterm births, making this population a sizeable public health concern. The immature fetal development associated with LP delivery increases the risk of mortality and short-term medical complications. Which combination of maternal, fetal, or neonatal risk factors may be most critical has only recently begun to be addressed, and whether LP birth’s disruptive impact on brain development will exert adverse effects on neuropsychological functioning in childhood and adolescence has been understudied. Early data have shown a graded response, with LP children often functioning better than very preterm children but worse than term children, and with subtle intellectual and neuropsychological deficits in LP children compared with healthy children born at term gestational age. Further characterization of the neuropsychological profile is required and would be best accomplished through prospective longitudinal studies. Moreover, since moderate and LP births result in disparate medical and psychological outcomes, the common methodology of combining these participants into a single research cohort to assess risk and outcome should be reconsidered. The rapidly growing LP outcomes literature reinforces a critical principle: fetal development occurs along a dynamic maturational continuum from conception to birth, with each successive gestational day likely to improve overall outcome.
Most young children make significant progress in learning language during the first 4 years of life. Delays or differences in patterns of language acquisition are sensitive indicators of developmental problems. The dynamic, complex nature of language and the variability in the timing of its acquisition poses a number of challenges for the assessment of young children. This paper summarises the key developmental milestones of language development in the preschool years, providing a backdrop for understanding difficulties with language learning. Children with specific language impairment (SLI) are characterised illustrating the types of language difficulties they exhibit. Genetic evidence for language impairment suggests complex interactions among multiple genes of small effect. There are few consistent neurobiological abnormalities and currently there is no identified neurobiological signature for language difficulties. The assessment of young children’s language skills thus focuses on the evaluation of their performances in comparison to typically developing peers. Assessment of language abilities in preschool children should involve an evaluation of both expressive and receptive skills and should include an evaluation of more than one dimension of language. The use of a single measure of a language component, such as vocabulary, is considered inadequate for determining whether preschool children have typical language or language impairment. Available evidence supports the inclusion of measures of phonological short-term memory in the assessment of the language abilities of preschool children. Further study of genetic, neurobiological and early behavioural correlates of language impairments in preschool children is needed.
Intelligence testing has a long and revered history in psychological measurement in childhood. Yet, the years between infancy and early childhood have been understudied with respect to emergent intellectual and cognitive functioning. Factor analytic models of intelligence that have demonstrated applicability when testing older children and adults often appear inadequate in the preschool period. As more is learned about brain development in typically developing children during these crucial years the distinctive relationships between neural system development and intellectual functioning are being revealed more completely. The aim of this paper was to provide a brief historical background as a foundation for discussion of intelligence testing, review what is known about the dynamic course of brain development during the preschool years, acknowledge limitations specific to intelligence testing in young children, and provide support for maintaining a comprehensive neuropsychological perspective that considers the wider range of variables that influence intellectual functioning in the preschool period.
In the past two decades, there has been an increased interest in the assessment and treatment of preschool children presenting with concerns about attention problems. This article reviews the research and clinical literature involving assessment of attention and related skills in the preschool years. While inattention among preschoolers is common, symptoms alone do not necessarily indicate a disorder, and most often represent a normal variation in typical preschool child development. Thus, accurate identification of “disordered” attention in preschoolers can be challenging, and development of appropriate, norm-referenced tests of attention for preschoolers is also difficult. The current review suggests that comprehensive assessment of attention and related functions in the preschool child should include thorough review of the child’s history, planned observations, and formal psychometric testing. The three primary methods of psychometric assessment that have been used to characterize attentional functioning in preschool children include performance-based tests, structured caregiver interviews, and rating scales (parent, teacher, and clinician). Among performance-based methods for measurement of attention in the preschool years, tests have been developed to assess sustained attention, selective (focused) attention, span of attention (encoding/manipulation), and (top-down) controlled attention—including freedom from distractibility and set shifting. Many of these tests remain experimental in nature, and review of published methods yields relatively few commercially available, nationally normed tests of attention for preschoolers, and an overall dearth of reliability and validity studies on the available measures.