Alternative Executive Function Tasks

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Megzi
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Joined: Sat Aug 11, 2012 12:07 pm

Alternative Executive Function Tasks

Post by Megzi » Sat Dec 05, 2015 1:29 pm

Hey people,

Before giving up (and accepting the use of bespoke/self-made cognitive tests for my research project) I decided to see if anyone knew of any alternatives to sub-tests within large (and 'costly') batteries for testing specific cognitive functions. The cognitive abilities (or more specifically executive functions) I am interested in are verbal mental flexibility/switching, inhibition and updating working memory.

For working memory, the WAIS backwards digit span test would work a treat, however I do not have the financial muscle to purchase the record forms. Am I correct in thinking it is the actual index (i.e. Working Memory Index) rather than any particular WAIS sub-test that is standardised? If so, would this mean that using a bespoke measure for research purposes would make no difference providing it has somewhat of a good face validity? My dilemma is similar for verbal switching, whereas for verbal inhibition I have found an appropriate task but would be interested in hearing the thoughts of others.


Happy saturday and thank you for your time :?

Mexie
Posts: 134
Joined: Fri Mar 07, 2008 3:20 pm

Re: Alternative Executive Function Tasks

Post by Mexie » Sun Dec 13, 2015 6:24 pm

WAIS subtests are standardised and have a mean of 10 and sd of 3. You have a more reliable measure with an index score than a subtest. Just doing a digit span subtest does not give you a measure of a person's working memory.

Verbal fluency from the DKEFS has a switching element, as does the trail-making test. The COWAT is another verbal fluency measure.

The Hayling test is good for verbal initiation and inhibition. The Brixton test looks at spatial anticipation/rule detection.

The BADS has more planning-type tasks.

The WCST gets at set shifting.

If you are aiming to do some sort of intervention study with change in executive function as an outcome, or EF as a confounder, then using your own made up measures would be pretty pointless as they are not reliable or valid unless you do a full standardisation study on them. Ok in clinical practice for assessing change over time in an individual using idiosyncratic measures, but not for research (unless you are writing up a treatment/rehab case).

Hard to advise really without knowing more about the project. Sounds like you need to consult with someone with knowledge of cognitive testing and psychometrics. Assuming this is a university project, there should be suitable people to liaise with in your department, and I would have thought there would be access to tests via the university.

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BenJMan
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Re: Alternative Executive Function Tasks

Post by BenJMan » Tue Dec 15, 2015 11:19 am

What Mexie said :D
I think a hero is any person really intent on making this a better place for all people ~ Maya Angelou.

Megzi
Posts: 98
Joined: Sat Aug 11, 2012 12:07 pm

Re: Alternative Executive Function Tasks

Post by Megzi » Wed Dec 16, 2015 9:41 am

Hi Mexie,

That is very helpful, thanks a bunch! Although it is a case of streamlining measures being used in order to manage the time participants are required to spend within the study as well as there being financial/funding limitations.

It is an (experimental) study that aims to assess the relationship of other key cognitive constructs and theoretically-based executive components. Furthermore the study will involve a control group which I understand might minimise the impact of using a bespoke test with 'good' face validity.

Thank you for taking the time to read and respond to my post :D

ps: BenJMan your emphasis of the point was also much appreciated :lol:

Mexie
Posts: 134
Joined: Fri Mar 07, 2008 3:20 pm

Re: Alternative Executive Function Tasks

Post by Mexie » Wed Dec 16, 2015 9:19 pm

I was thinking it might be more experimental psychology than clinical psychology. As long as you have a good theoretical/empirical basis for your measures then a control and comparison group design is a good way to go. I recently did some computerised battery with backwards digit span as part of it and it had a good process of increasing the length when you got one right and decreasing it when you got one wrong to find your maximum span. No idea what it was called as I was doing it as a participant, but if you could find that it could be useful.

Good luck, hope you find something suitable!

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