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Appl Neuropsychol. 2010 Jan;17(1):37-43. doi: 10.1080/09084280903526083.

Identifying cognitive problems in children and adolescents with depression using computerized neuropsychological testing.

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Neurosciences, Alberta Children's Hospital, Calgary, Alberta, Canada T3B 6A8.


Depression in children and adolescents can negatively impact cognitive functioning, social development, and academic performance. The purpose of this study was to determine whether a computerized battery of neuropsychological tests could detect neurocognitive difficulties in children and adolescents with depression. Participants included 30 children and adolescents between the ages of 9 and 17 years (M = 14.6, SD = 2.1) with a clinical diagnosis of depression. Healthy control participants were individually matched on age, education, sex, race, primary language, handedness, and self-reported computer familiarity. All participants completed the Central Nervous System Vital Signs computerized battery. This battery of seven tests yields 23 test scores and 5 domain scores (Memory, Psychomotor Speed, Reaction Time, Complex Attention, and Cognitive Flexibility). Children and adolescents with depression performed worse on the Memory (Cohen's d = .43) and Complex Attention domains (d = .58) than matched controls. On the individual test scores, children and adolescents with depression performed worse on delayed verbal memory (d = .63), delayed visual memory (d = .34), measures of reaction time (d = .34-.53), and accuracy/inhibition on complex attention tasks (d = .49-.65). When considering the five domain scores simultaneously, children and adolescents with depression were more likely to have two or more scores at or below the 5th percentile (p = .05). Children and adolescents with depression have problems with reduced processing speed, memory for verbal information, and executive functioning on this computerized battery of tests, which represents a feasible method for neuropsychological screening.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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