Publications by authors named "Marsha Vasserman"

12 Publications

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The use of the MSVT in children and adolescents with epilepsy.

Appl Neuropsychol Child 2020 Oct-Dec;9(4):323-328. Epub 2020 Apr 16.

Neuropsychology Service, Alberta Children's Hospital, Calgary, Canada.

Pediatric neuropsychologists are increasingly recognizing the importance of performance validity testing during evaluations. The use of such measures to detect insufficient effort is of particular importance in pediatric epilepsy evaluations, where test results are often used to guide surgical decisions and failure to detect poor task engagement can result in postsurgical cognitive decline. The present investigation assesses the utility of the Medical Symptom Validity Test (MSVT) in 104 clinically referred children and adolescents with epilepsy. Though the overall failure rate was 15.4% of the total group, children with 2nd grade or higher reading skills (a requirement of the task) passed at a very high rate (96.6%). Of the three failures, two were unequivocally deemed true positives, while the third failed due to extreme somnolence during testing. Notably, for those with ≥2nd grade reading levels, MSVT validity indices were unrelated to patient age, intellectual functioning, or age of epilepsy onset, while modest relations were seen with specific memory measures, number of epilepsy medications, and seizure frequency. Despite these associations, however, this did not result in more failures in this population of children and adolescents with substantial neurologic involvement, as pass rates exceeded 92% for those with intellectual disability, high seizure frequency, high medication burden, and even prior surgical resection of critical memory structures.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/21622965.2020.1750127DOI Listing
April 2020

The WISC-V in children and adolescents with epilepsy.

Child Neuropsychol 2019 10 24;25(7):992-1002. Epub 2019 Jan 24.

g Copeman Healthcare Centre.

Despite its popularity in the neuropsychological evaluation of children, the utility of the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children - Fifth Edition (WISC-V) has not yet been investigated in children with epilepsy. Eighty clinically referred children and adolescents with epilepsy were administered the WISC-V as part of a comprehensive assessment and scores were compared to matched controls from the WISC-V standardization sample. tests compared WISC-V indices and subtests between patients and controls and Chi-square analyses compared the rates of low scores. Correlational analyses assessed the relationships between epilepsy severity variables (e.g., age of onset, duration of epilepsy, number of antiepileptic drugs, seizure frequency). All WISC-V composites and subtests were significantly lower in patients versus controls and the rate of low scores was higher in patients than controls for all composites and subtests with the exception of Figure Weights. The Working Memory Index and Processing Speed Index were most sensitive to impairment, while the Verbal Comprehension Index and Fluid Reasoning Index were least sensitive. Of the epilepsy severity variables, age of seizure onset and number of antiepileptic drugs were strong predictors of deficits, whereas seizure frequency was the weakest predictor. Importantly, no significant differences were seen in children with right hemisphere epilepsy versus left on the five WISC-V composites, though a trend was seen towards a lower Visual-Spatial Index in those with right-sided focal seizures.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09297049.2019.1571181DOI Listing
October 2019

Are we documenting performance validity testing in pediatric neuropsychological assessments? A brief report.

Child Neuropsychol 2019 11 24;25(8):1035-1042. Epub 2019 Jan 24.

f Private Practice , Woburn , MA , USA.

A 2016 survey of pediatric neuropsychologists found that 92% of clinicians reported use of "at least one" performance validity test (PVT) in each assessment. The present investigation sought to verify documented PVT use among clinicians by review of actual reports. A convenience sample of pediatric neuropsychological reports of children ages 6-17 were reviewed over an 24-month period (January 2015-January 2017); reports were those seen as part of our routine practice, including reports on children we were reevaluating, cases that we consulted on, or cases evaluated elsewhere presenting to our centers that required record review for clinical decision making (e.g., presurgical epilepsy evaluations). A total of 131 reports, from 102 unique neuropsychologists were reviewed. PVT usage was documented in only six reports, from six unique clinicians, representing only 4.58% of the reports (or 5.88% of clinicians), far below expectations recent survey results. Though sampling differences and documentation factors may account for some of this disparity, a "social desirability bias" on surveys is likely a major factor in explaining these discordant findings.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09297049.2019.1569606DOI Listing
November 2019

Derivation of New Embedded Performance Validity Indicators for the Child and Adolescent Memory Profile (ChAMP) Objects Subtest in Youth with Mild Traumatic Brain Injury.

Arch Clin Neuropsychol 2019 Jun;34(4):531-538

Copeman Healthcare Centre, Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

Background: Development of an embedded performance validity test (PVT) is desired for visual memory tests. The goal of this study was to derive an embedded PVT for the Child and Adolescent Memory Profile (ChAMP) Objects visual memory subtest in youth with mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI).

Methods: Children and adolescents (N = 91; mean age = 14.9 years, SD = 2.2, range = 8-18) on average 25.2 weeks (SD = 15.4) post-MTBI were administered ChAMP Objects. Two stand-alone PVTs (Test of Memory Malingering and Medical Symptom Validity Test) were administered, which allowed for grouping into valid (zero failed stand-alone PVTs) and invalid (both stand-alone PVTs failed). Cutoff scores for invalid performance on ChAMP Objects and Objects Delayed were established using failure on two PVTs as the criterion.

Results: One in five youth (n = 19) failed both PVTs. Invalid performance was not associated with demographics or time since injury, but was significantly correlated with both ChAMP Objects (r = .53, p<.001) and Objects Delayed (r = -.63, p<.001). Area under the curve suggested adequate discrimination by Objects (.87) and excellent discrimination by Objects Delayed (.91). A cutoff scaled score of 5 or less on ChAMP Objects provided sensitivity of 58% for detecting invalid performance with 96% sensitivity. A cutoff scaled score of 5 or less on ChAMP Objects Delayed achieved sensitivity of 63% and specificity of 96%. Interpreting the two embedded PVTs simultaneously improved sensitivity to 79% with 93% specificity.

Conclusion: This study yields promising new embedded PVTs for the ChAMP Objects subtest with strong sensitivity and specificity for detecting invalid performance in youth with MTBI.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/arclin/acy068DOI Listing
June 2019

A new kid on the block: The Memory Validity Profile (MVP) in children with neurological conditions.

Child Neuropsychol 2019 05 6;25(4):561-572. Epub 2018 Jun 6.

e Brain Health Program , Copeman Healthcare Centre , Calgary , Canada.

Determining the validity of obtained data is an inherent part of a neuropsychological assessment. The purpose of this study was investigate the failure rate of the Memory Validity Profile (MVP) in a large clinical sample of children and adolescents with neurological diagnoses. Data were obtained from 261 consecutive patients (mean age = 12.0, SD = 3.9, range = 5-19) who were referred for a neuropsychological assessment in a tertiary care pediatric hospital and were administered the MVP. In this sample, 4.6% of youth failed the MVP. Mean administration time for the MVP was 7.4 min, although time to complete was not associated with failure rates. Failure rates were held relatively consistent at approximately 5% across age ranges, diagnoses, and psychomotor processing speed abilities. Having very low, below normal, or above normal intellectual abilities did not alter failure rate on the MVP. However, those with intellectual disability (i.e., IQ<70) had a higher fail rate at 12% on MVP Total Score, but only 6% on the MVP Visual portion. Failure rates on the MVP were associated with lower scores on memory tests. This study provides support for using the MVP in children as young as 5 years with neurological diagnoses.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09297049.2018.1477929DOI Listing
May 2019

Utility of the Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function - Preschool version (BRIEF-P) in young children with epilepsy.

Child Neuropsychol 2018 10 29;24(7):975-985. Epub 2017 Aug 29.

a Department of Neurology, Comprehensive Epilepsy Center , New York University , New York , NY , USA.

Executive functioning deficits are prominent in children with epilepsy. Although instruments, such as the Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function (BRIEF), are useful in detecting executive dysfunction in school-age children with epilepsy, little data are available for younger children. The present study evaluates the ability of the Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function - Preschool Version (BRIEF-P) to detect executive dysfunction in preschool-age children with epilepsy. Parents of 51 clinically referred children with epilepsy (age: M = 1.99 years, SD = 1.29 years, range = 2-5 years) completed the BRIEF-P. Using a cutoff t score of ≥65 as the threshold for impairment, the BRIEF-P's ability to detect executive dysfunction within this clinical population was established. Additionally, correlational analyses were used to assess the relations between epilepsy severity factors and BRIEF-P indices. Epilepsy severity variables that were significantly related to BRIEF-P indices were entered into a linear regression model to explore their predictive ability. Emergent metacognition (emergent metacognition index [EMI]; 59%) and the global executive composite (43%) were the most frequently elevated indices. The most commonly elevated subscales were working memory (65%), inhibition (37%), and planning/organization (35%). Age of seizure onset, seizure frequency, and number of antiepileptic drugs were not significantly correlated with BRIEF-P indices. However, children with lower intellectual ability were rated as having greater executive dysfunction, specifically with EMI (r = -.30). Still, intellectual functioning only accounted for a small percentage (9%) of the variance in EMI scores. The current pilot study demonstrates that the BRIEF-P shows promise in identifying executive dysfunction in preschool-age children with epilepsy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09297049.2017.1365829DOI Listing
October 2018

Sensitivity of the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test (64-Card Version) versus the Tower of London (Drexel Version) for detecting executive dysfunction in children with epilepsy.

Child Neuropsychol 2018 04 3;24(3):354-369. Epub 2017 Jan 3.

g Space Coast Neuropsychology Center , Melbourne , FL , USA.

Executive function deficits are common in children and adolescents with epilepsy. Though the Wisconsin Card Sorting Task (WCST) is often considered the "gold standard" for executive function assessment, its sensitivity-particularly in the case of the 64-card version (WCST-64)-is insufficiently established in pediatric samples, including children and adolescents with epilepsy. The present investigation assesses the sensitivity of the WCST-64 in children and adolescents with epilepsy in comparison to another measure: the Tower of London - Drexel Version (TOL-DX). A total of 88 consecutively referred children and adolescents with epilepsy were administered both the WCST-64 and TOL-DX as part of a comprehensive neuropsychological evaluation. The sensitivity of WCST-64 and TOL-DX variables were established and relations with epilepsy severity measures and other executive function measures were assessed. Of the WCST-64 variables, Perseverative Responses is the most sensitive, but detected executive function impairment in only 19% of this clinically referred sample; in contrast, the TOL-DX Rule Violations detected executive function impairment in half of the sample. Further, TOL-DX performances are more strongly related to epilepsy severity variables and other executive function measures in comparison to the WCST-64. Despite its popularity amongst clinicians, the WCST-64 is not as sensitive to executive dysfunction in comparison to other measures of comparable administration time, such as the TOL-DX.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09297049.2016.1265101DOI Listing
April 2018

Cognitive estimations as a measure of executive dysfunction in childhood epilepsy.

Child Neuropsychol 2016 11;22(1):65-80. Epub 2014 Nov 11.

e Departments of Neurology and Psychiatry , Mt Sinai School of Medicine , New York , NY , USA.

Children and adolescents with epilepsy are known to demonstrate executive function deficits. Despite prior work that has shown that cognitive estimation tasks are sensitive to executive dysfunction in children, such tasks have not been studied in children with epilepsy. This is particularly important given the fact that executive tasks have heretofore shown poor ecological validity, and it has been speculated that estimation tasks may show stronger ecological validity than other executive tests. One hundred and thirteen clinically referred children and adolescents with epilepsy were included. The Biber Cognitive Estimations Test was sensitive to cognitive dysfunction, with about half showing impairments on this task in comparison to age-matched normative data; the most frequently impaired subscales were quantity estimation and time estimation. Moreover, the Biber Cognitive Estimation Test showed moderate correlations with not only overall intellectual functions and academic achievement but also other commonly administered tests of executive functions, including digit span, Trailmaking, and the Tower of London but not with the contingency naming test. Cognitive estimations were also modestly correlated with age of epilepsy onset but not other epilepsy-severity variables such as number of antiepilepsy drugs (AEDs) or seizure frequency. Unfortunately, the hypothesis that the Biber Cognitive Estimation Test would show strong ecological validity was not supported, as it showed weak relations with parent-reported executive function deficits. The significance and limitations of this investigation are discussed.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09297049.2014.967670DOI Listing
February 2016

Motor skills development in children with inattentive versus combined subtypes of ADHD.

Appl Neuropsychol Child 2014 25;3(2):145-51. Epub 2013 Jan 25.

a Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry , Child Study Center, New York University School of Medicine , New York , New York.

The relations between attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and motor skills are well documented, with research indicating both early and lifelong motor deficits in children with this disorder. Despite neuroanatomical and neurodevelopmental differences, which may predict differential rates of motor impairment between ADHD subtypes, evaluation of motor skill deficits in children with different presentations are limited in scope and equivocal in findings. The present investigation evaluated early motor development history and objectively measured motor skills in children with ADHD-Inattentive subtype (ADHD-I) and ADHD-Combined subtype (ADHD-C). One hundred and one children with ADHD-I (n = 53) and ADHD-C (n = 48) were included. Variables included Full-Scale IQ (FSIQ), history of motor delays, and utilization of early intervention services, as well as objectively measured motor impairment as assessed via tasks of fine-motor coordination. No between-group differences were found for FSIQ, but differences in age emerged, with the ADHD-I group being older. No differences in early motor delays were observed, though a considerably higher percentage of children with ADHD-C demonstrated early difficulties. Surprisingly, although children and adolescents with ADHD-C reported more frequent utilization of early intervention services, those with ADHD-I exhibited greater levels of current motor impairment on objective tasks. Given the over-representation of older children in the ADHD-I group, data were reanalyzed after excluding participants older than 10 years of age. Although the between-group differences were no longer significant, more than twice the number of parents of children with ADHD-C reported early motor delays, as compared with the ADHD-I group. Overall, children with ADHD-I were more likely to exhibit current objectively measured motor impairment, possibly due to later identification, less intervention, and/or different neurodevelopmental substrates underlying this disorder subtype.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/21622965.2012.759466DOI Listing
November 2014

Attention and executive functions in children with epilepsy: what, why, and what to do.

Appl Neuropsychol Child 2014 21;3(3):215-25. Epub 2014 Feb 21.

a Comprehensive Epilepsy Center, New York University , New York , New York.

Attention and executive function deficits are a common sequelae of many neurological conditions of childhood. Those with epilepsy frequently show such deficits, as executive dysfunction is common in all epilepsy syndromes of childhood. The purpose of this article is to review what is known about attention and executive functions, including the neurological underpinnings of these skills. Then, general cognitive function and dysfunction in childhood epilepsy is discussed with a special focus on attention and executive function impairment. Finally, treatment considerations for children and adolescents with these deficits are reviewed and future directions are discussed.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/21622965.2013.839605DOI Listing
March 2015

Neuropsychological endophenotypes in ADHD with and without epilepsy.

Appl Neuropsychol Child 2012 3;1(2):121-8. Epub 2012 Aug 3.

Comprehensive Epilepsy Center, New York University, New York, NY 10016, USA.

Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a frequent comorbidity in children with epilepsy. Despite similarities in behavioral manifestations of inattention and hyperactivity, it is unclear whether the neuropsychological endophenotypes of children with developmental ADHD differ from those with ADHD in the context of epilepsy. The present study compared groups of clinically referred children with both ADHD-Inattentive subtype (ADHD-I) and ADHD-Combined subtype (ADHD-C) to children with ADHD-I and ADHD-C and epilepsy on neuropsychological measures of intellectual functioning, auditory attention, working memory, and sustained attention and response inhibition. Those with ADHD and epilepsy performed more poorly on measures of intellectual function (e.g., Full-Scale IQ, Verbal IQ, Performance IQ) as well as auditory attention and working memory. Differences across the groups were also seen on a continuous performance test. Follow-up correlational analyses showed that variables such as seizure frequency and number of antiepilepsy medications predicted cognitive dysfunction in the epilepsy groups. Overall results suggest that the neuropsychological endophenotypes in developmental ADHD versus ADHD in epilepsy differ with seizure-related variables predicting cognitive dysfunction.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/21622965.2012.709421DOI Listing
September 2013

Clinical utility of reliable digit span in assessing effort in children and adolescents with epilepsy.

Arch Clin Neuropsychol 2012 Nov 9;27(7):735-41. Epub 2012 Jul 9.

Department of Professional Psychology and Family Therapy, Seton Hall University, South Orange, NJ, USA.

The assessment of effort is an important aspect of a comprehensive neuropsychological evaluation, as this can significantly impact data interpretation. While recent work has validated the appropriateness of adult-derived cutoffs for standalone effort measures in younger populations, little research has focused on embedded effort measures in children. The present study includes 54 clinically referred children and adolescents (32 males/22 females; aged 6-17) with a confirmed diagnosis of epilepsy. Reliable Digit Spans (RDSs) were calculated and the Test of Memory Malingering (TOMM) was administered in the context of a comprehensive neuropsychological evaluation. Using a previously published RDS cutoff of ≤6, a pass rate of only 65% was obtained, well below the recommended 90% pass rate for an effective effort index. In contrast, when adult criteria were used on TOMM Trial 2, a 90% pass rate was observed. RDS scores were significantly correlated with IQ estimates (r = .59, p < .001) and age (r = .61, p < .001). The difference between RDS and the TOMM on the participant outcome was statistically significant (χ(2) = 9.05, p = .003). These results suggest that RDS appears to yield a large number of false positives and, therefore, may be of limited utility in detecting poor effort in a pediatric epilepsy population. These findings likely extend to other pediatric populations that are known to have significant cognitive loss.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/arclin/acs063DOI Listing
November 2012