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J Neurodev Disord. 2010 Sep 1;2(3):149-164.

Development and validation of the Arizona Cognitive Test Battery for Down syndrome.

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Department of Psychology, University of Arizona, 1503 E. University Blvd., Tucson, AZ 85721, USA.


Neurocognitive assessment in individuals with intellectual disabilities requires a well-validated test battery. To meet this need, the Arizona Cognitive Test Battery (ACTB) has been developed specifically to assess the cognitive phenotype in Down syndrome (DS). The ACTB includes neuropsychological assessments chosen to 1) assess a range of skills, 2) be non-verbal so as to not confound the neuropsychological assessment with language demands, 3) have distributional properties appropriate for research studies to identify genetic modifiers of variation, 4) show sensitivity to within and between sample differences, 5) have specific correlates with brain function, and 6) be applicable to a wide age range and across contexts. The ACTB includes tests of general cognitive ability and prefrontal, hippocampal and cerebellar function. These tasks were drawn from the Cambridge Neuropsychological Testing Automated Battery (CANTAB) and other established paradigms. Alongside the cognitive testing battery we administered benchmark and parent-report assessments of cognition and behavior. Individuals with DS (n=74, ages 7-38 years) and mental age (MA) matched controls (n=50, ages 3-8 years) were tested across 3 sites. A subsample of these groups were used for between-group comparisons, including 55 individuals with DS and 36 mental age matched controls. The ACTB allows for low floor performance levels and participant loss. Floor effects were greater in younger children. Individuals with DS were impaired on a number ACTB tests in comparison to a MA-matched sample, with some areas of spared ability, particularly on tests requiring extensive motor coordination. Battery measures correlated with parent report of behavior and development. The ACTB provided consistent results across contexts, including home vs. lab visits, cross-site, and among individuals with a wide range of socio-economic backgrounds and differences in ethnicity. The ACTB will be useful in a range of outcome studies, including clinical trials and the identification of important genetic components of cognitive disability.

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