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Neuropsychol Rev. 2003 Dec;13(4):181-97.

The ecological validity of neuropsychological tests: a review of the literature on everyday cognitive skills.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Washington State University, Pullman, Washington 99164-4820, USA.


Evaluating the ecological validity of neuropsychological tests has become an increasingly important topic over the past decade. In this paper, we provide a comprehensive review of the research on the ecological validity of neuropsychological tests, as it pertains to everyday cognitive skills. This review is presented in the context of several theoretical issues facing ecological validity research. Overall, the research suggests that many neuropsychological tests have a moderate level of ecological validity when predicting everyday cognitive functioning. The strongest relationships were noted when the outcome measure corresponded to the cognitive domain assessed by the neuropsychological tests. Several other factors that may moderate the degree of ecological validity established for neuropsychological tests are in need of further exploration. These factors include the effects of the population being tested, the approach utilized (verisimilitude vs. veridicality), the person completing the outcome measure (significant other vs. clinician), illness severity, and time from injury until evaluation. In addition, a standard measurement of outcome for each cognitive domain is greatly needed to allow for comparison across studies.

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