A study of performance on tests from the CANTAB battery sensitive to frontal lobe dysfunction in a large sample of normal volunteers: Implications for theories of executive functioning and cognitive aging

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Robbins, T. W. ; James, M. ; Owen, A. M. ; Sahakian, B. J. ; Lawrence, Andrew David ; McInnes, L. ; Rabbitt, P. M. A. (1998)
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Subject: RC0321 | BF

Several tests from the CANTAB neuropsychological test battery previously shown to be sensitive to frontal lobe dysfunction were administered to a large group of normal volunteers (N = 341) ranging in age from 21 to 79 years. The main tests included a computerized form of the Tower of London test of planning, a self-ordered spatial working memory task, and a test of attentional set formation and shifting. A computerized form of the Corsi spatial span task was also given. Age-related graded declines in performance were seen, sometimes in a discontinuous manner, especially for the attentional set shifting task (at the extradimensional shift stage). Patterns of deficits reminiscent of frontal lobe or basal ganglia damage were observed in the oldest age group (74–79). However, overall the data were only partially consistent with the hypothesis that frontal lobe functions are the most sensitive to effects of aging. Factor analyses showed that performance in the executive tests was not simply related to a measure of fluid intelligence, and their performance had a factor loading structure distinct from that for the CANTAB tests of visual memory and learning previously administered to the same sample. Finally, only limited support was found for the hypothesis that cognitive aging depends on slowed information processing. (JINS, 1998, 4, 474–490.)
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