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At present, there is poor accuracy in assessing cognitive and vegetative symptoms in depression using clinician or self-rated measures, suggesting the need for development of standardized tasks to assess these functions. The current study assessed the psychometric properties and diagnostic specificity of a brief neuropsychological screening battery designed to assess core signs of depression; psychomotor retardation, attention and executive functioning difficulties, and impaired emotion perception within an outpatient psychiatry setting. Three hundred eighty-four patients with mood disorders and 77 healthy volunteers participated. A large percentage of patients met diagnostic criteria for Major Depressive Disorder alone (49%) or with another comorbid psychiatric disorder (24%). A brief, 25-min battery of computer-based tests was administered to control participants and patients measuring the constructs of inhibitory control, attention, visual perception, and both executive and visual processing speed. The patient groups performed significantly worse than the control group regardless of diagnosis on visual perception and attention accuracy and processing speed factors. Surprisingly, the anxiety disorder group performed better than several other psychiatric disorder groups in inhibitory control accuracy. Developing valid and reliable measures of cognitive signs in mood disorders creates excellent opportunities for tracking cognitive status prior to initiation of treatment, and allows for reliable retest following treatment.
Langenecker, Scott Aaron; Caveney, Angela F.; Giordani, Bruno; Young, Elizabeth A.; Nielson, Kristy A.; Rapport, Lisa J.; Bieliauskas, Linas A.; Mordhorst, Matthew J.; Marcus, Sheila; Yodkovik, Naomi; Kerber, Kevin; Berent, Stanley; and Zubieta, Jon-Kar, "The Sensitivity and Psychometric Properties of a Brief Computer-Based Cognitive Screening Battery in a Depression Clinic" (2007). Psychology Faculty Research and Publications. 113.