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The Utility of Intraindividual Variability in Selective Attention Tasks



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Neuropsychology 2009 Vol 23 No 6 746 758 2009 American Psychological Association 0894 4105 09 12 00 DOI 10 1037 a0016583 The Utility of Intraindividual Variability in Selective Attention Tasks as an Early Marker for Alzheimer s Disease Janet M Duchek David A Balota and Chi Shing Tse David M Holtzman Anne M Fagan and Alison M Goate Washington University in St Louis Washington University School of Medicine This study explored differences in intraindividual variability in 3 attention tasks across a large sample of healthy older adults and individuals with very mild dementia of the Alzheimer s type DAT Three groups of participants healthy young adults healthy older adults very mild DAT were administered 3 experimental measures of attentional selection and switching Stroop Simon task switching The results indicated that a measure of intraindividual variability coefficient of variation CoV SD M increased across age and early stage DAT The CoV in Stroop discriminated the performance of 4 carriers from noncarriers in healthy older controls and the CoV in task switching was correlated with cerebrospinal fluid CSF biomarkers predictive of DAT Keywords intraindividual variation attention aging Alzheimer s disease Moss Tanzi Jones 2001 Rubin et al 1998 Storandt Grant Miller Morris 2006 However there also has been accumulating evidence documenting clear changes in components of attention in both healthy aging and in early stage DAT for reviews see Balota Faust 2001 Perry Hodges 1999 For example in the classic Stroop task Spieler Balota and Faust 1996 provided evidence that there is a disproportionate breakdown in the ability to inhibit the word code when naming colors in healthy older adults compared to young and in DAT individuals compared to age matched controls Furthermore it has been argued that attentional breakdowns observed in healthy aging and in early stage AD are likely to be related to the episodic memory changes in these individuals e g Balota Burgess Cortese Adams



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