Publications by authors named "Rachel Nolan-Kenney"

10 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

Exploration of Rapid Automatized Naming and Standard Visual Tests in Prodromal Alzheimer Disease Detection.

J Neuroophthalmol 2021 May 17. Epub 2021 May 17.

Departments of Neurology (SZW, RNK, NM, LH, BJ, AC, JCR, SLG, TMW, AVM, and LJB), Population Health (RNK and LJB), and Ophthalmology (SZW, JCR, SLG, and LJB), New York University Grossman School of Medicine, New York, New York.

Background: Visual tests in Alzheimer disease (AD) have been examined over the last several decades to identify a sensitive and noninvasive marker of the disease. Rapid automatized naming (RAN) tasks have shown promise for detecting prodromal AD or mild cognitive impairment (MCI). The purpose of this investigation was to determine the capacity for new rapid image and number naming tests and other measures of visual pathway structure and function to distinguish individuals with MCI due to AD from those with normal aging and cognition. The relation of these tests to vision-specific quality of life scores was also examined in this pilot study.

Methods: Participants with MCI due to AD and controls from well-characterized NYU research and clinical cohorts performed high and low-contrast letter acuity (LCLA) testing, as well as RAN using the Mobile Universal Lexicon Evaluation System (MULES) and Staggered Uneven Number test, and vision-specific quality of life scales, including the 25-Item National Eye Institute Visual Function Questionnaire (NEI-VFQ-25) and 10-Item Neuro-Ophthalmic Supplement. Individuals also underwent optical coherence tomography scans to assess peripapillary retinal nerve fiber layer and ganglion cell/inner plexiform layer thicknesses. Hippocampal atrophy on brain MRI was also determined from the participants' Alzheimer disease research center or clinical data.

Results: Participants with MCI (n = 14) had worse binocular LCLA at 1.25% contrast compared with controls (P = 0.009) and longer (worse) MULES test times (P = 0.006) with more errors in naming images (P = 0.009) compared with controls (n = 16). These were the only significantly different visual tests between groups. MULES test times (area under the receiver operating characteristic curve [AUC] = 0.79), MULES errors (AUC = 0.78), and binocular 1.25% LCLA (AUC = 0.78) showed good diagnostic accuracy for distinguishing MCI from controls. A combination of the MULES score and 1.25% LCLA demonstrated the greatest capacity to distinguish (AUC = 0.87). These visual measures were better predictors of MCI vs control status than the presence of hippocampal atrophy on brain MRI in this cohort. A greater number of MULES test errors (rs = -0.50, P = 0.005) and worse 1.25% LCLA scores (rs = 0.39, P = 0.03) were associated with lower (worse) NEI-VFQ-25 scores.

Conclusions: Rapid image naming (MULES) and LCLA are able to distinguish MCI due to AD from normal aging and reflect vision-specific quality of life. Larger studies will determine how these easily administered tests may identify patients at risk for AD and serve as measures in disease-modifying therapy clinical trials.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/WNO.0000000000001228DOI Listing
May 2021

Sleep-deprived residents and rapid picture naming performance using the Mobile Universal Lexicon Evaluation System (MULES) test.

eNeurologicalSci 2021 Mar 2;22:100323. Epub 2021 Feb 2.

Departments of Neurology, New York University Grossman School of Medicine, New York, NY, USA.

Objective: The Mobile Universal Lexicon Evaluation System (MULES) is a rapid picture naming task that captures extensive brain networks involving neurocognitive, afferent/efferent visual, and language pathways. Many of the factors captured by MULES may be abnormal in sleep-deprived residents. This study investigates the effect of sleep deprivation in post-call residents on MULES performance.

Methods: MULES, consisting of 54 color photographs, was administered to a cohort of neurology residents taking 24-hour in-hospital call ( = 18) and a group of similar-aged controls not taking call (n = 18). Differences in times between baseline and follow-up MULES scores were compared between the two groups.

Results: MULES time change in call residents was significantly worse (slower) from baseline (mean 1.2 s slower) compared to non-call controls (mean 11.2 s faster) ( < 0.001, Wilcoxon rank sum test). The change in MULES time from baseline was significantly correlated to the change in subjective level of sleepiness for call residents and to the amount of sleep obtained in the 24 h prior to follow-up testing for the entire cohort. For call residents, the duration of sleep obtained during call did not significantly correlate with change in MULES scores. There was no significant correlation between MULES change and sleep quality questionnaire score for the entire cohort.

Conclusion: The MULES is a novel test for effects of sleep deprivation on neurocognition and vision pathways. Sleep deprivation significantly worsens MULES performance. Subjective sleepiness may also affect MULES performance. MULES may serve as a useful performance assessment tool for sleep deprivation in residents.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ensci.2021.100323DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7876539PMC
March 2021

Diagnostic Test Basics: A Primer for Neuro-Ophthalmologists.

J Neuroophthalmol 2020 12;40(4):445-449

Departments of Population Health (RN-K, YW, ML), Neurology (RN-K), and Environmental Medicine (ML), New York University Grossman School of Medicine, New York City, New York.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/WNO.0000000000001149DOI Listing
December 2020

Role for OCT in detecting hemi-macular ganglion cell layer thinning in patients with multiple sclerosis and related demyelinating diseases.

J Neurol Sci 2020 Dec 28;419:117159. Epub 2020 Sep 28.

Department of Neurology, New York University Grossman School of Medicine, New York, NY, USA; Department of Ophthalmology, New York University Grossman School of Medicine, New York, NY, USA. Electronic address:

Objective: Investigations have found associations of homonymous thinning of the macular ganglion cell/ inner-plexiform layer (GCIPL) with demyelinating lesions in the post-chiasmal visual pathway among patients with multiple sclerosis (MS). Retinal thinning may also occur through retrograde trans-synaptic degeneration, a process by which lesions in post-geniculate visual pathway structures lead to thinning of the GCIPL across thalamic synapses. The purpose of our study was to determine the frequency of homonymous hemimacular thinning that occurs in association with post-chiasmal visual pathway demyelinating lesions in patients with MS and other demyelinating diseases.

Methods: Adult patients with demyelinating diseases (MS, neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder [NMOSD], myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein antibody disease (anti-MOG)) who were participants in an ongoing observational study of visual pathway structure and function were analyzed for the presence of hemimacular GCIPL thinning on OCT scans. Brain MRI scans were examined for the presence of post-geniculate visual pathway demyelinating lesions.

Results: Among 135 participants in the visual pathway study, 5 patients (3.7%) had homonymous hemimacular GCIPL thinning. Eleven patients (8.1%) had a whole+half pattern of GCIPL thinning, characterized by hemimacular thinning in one eye and circumferential macular thinning in the contralateral eye. All but one patient with homonymous hemimacular thinning had demyelinating lesions in the post-geniculate visual pathway; however, these lesions were located in both cerebral hemispheres.

Conclusion: Homonymous hemimacular thinning in the GCIPL by OCT is associated with post-chiasmal visual pathway demyelinating lesions but it appears to be a relatively uncommon contributor to GCIPL loss. Patients with this pattern of GCIPL often fail to complain of hemifield visual loss. Future studies with prospective and detailed MR imaging may be able to more closely associate demyelinating lesions in anatomically appropriate regions of the post-chiasmal visual pathways with homonymous hemimacular thinning.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jns.2020.117159DOI Listing
December 2020

The SUN test of vision: Investigation in healthy volunteers and comparison to the mobile universal lexicon evaluation system (MULES).

J Neurol Sci 2020 08 30;415:116953. Epub 2020 May 30.

Department of Neurology, New York University Grossman School of Medicine, New York, NY, USA; Department of Population Health, New York University Grossman School of Medicine, New York, NY, USA; Department of Ophthalmology, New York University Grossman School of Medicine, New York, NY, USA. Electronic address:

Objective: Tests of rapid automatized naming (RAN) have been used for decades to evaluate neurological conditions. RAN tests require extensive brain pathways involving visual perception, memory, eye movements and language. To the extent that different naming tasks capture varied visual pathways and related networks, we developed the Staggered Uneven Number (SUN) test of rapid number naming to complement existing RAN tests, such as the Mobile Universal Lexicon Evaluation System (MULES). The purpose of this investigation was to determine values for time scores for SUN, and to compare test characteristics between SUN and MULES.

Methods: We administered the SUN and MULES tests to healthy adult volunteers in a research office setting. MULES consists of 54 color photographs; the SUN includes 145 single- and multi-digit numbers. Participants are asked to name each number or picture aloud.

Results: Among 54 healthy participants, aged 33 ± 13 years (range 20-66), the average SUN time score was 45.2 ± 8.3 s (range 30-66). MULES test times were 37.4 ± 9.9 s (range 20-68). SUN and MULES time scores did not differ by gender, but were greater (worse) among older participants for MULES (r = 0.43, P = .001). Learning effects between first and second trials were greater for the MULES; participants improved (reduced) their time scores between trials by 5% on SUN and 16% for MULES (P < .0001, Wilcoxon signed-rank test).

Conclusion: The SUN is a new vision-based test that complements presently available picture- and number-based RAN tests. These assessments may require different brain pathways and networks for visual processing, visual memory, language and eye movements.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jns.2020.116953DOI Listing
August 2020

Correlation of Visual Quality of Life With Clinical and Visual Status in Friedreich Ataxia.

J Neuroophthalmol 2020 06;40(2):213-217

Division of Neurology (PA, AL, DRL), Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and Departments of Neurology (RN-K, LJB), Population Health and Ophthalmology, NYU School of Medicine, Sackler Institute of Graduate Biomedical Sciences, New York, New York.

Background: The primary objective was to determine the association of patient-reported vision-specific quality of life to disease status and visual function in patients with Friedreich's ataxia (FRDA).

Methods: Patients with FRDA were assessed with the 25-Item National Eye Institute Visual Functioning Questionnaire (NEI-VFQ-25) along with measures of disease status (ataxia stage) and visual function (low- and high-contrast letter acuity scores). The relations of NEI-VFQ-25 scores to those for disease status and visual function were examined.

Results: Scores for the NEI-VFQ-25 were lower in patients with FRDA (n = 99) compared with published disease-free controls, particularly reduced in a subgroup of FRDA patients with features of early onset, older age, and abnormal visual function.

Conclusions: The NEI-VFQ-25 captures the subjective component of visual function in patients with FRDA.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/WNO.0000000000000878DOI Listing
June 2020

Optical coherence tomography of the retina in schizophrenia: Inter-device agreement and relations with perceptual function.

Schizophr Res 2020 05 11;219:13-18. Epub 2020 Jan 11.

Department of Psychiatry, New York University School of Medicine, New York, NY, USA; Nathan Kline Institute for Psychiatric Research, Orangeburg, NY, USA. Electronic address:

Background: Optical coherence tomography (OCT) studies have demonstrated differences between people with schizophrenia and controls. Many questions remain including the agreement between scanners. The current study seeks to determine inter-device agreement of OCT data in schizophrenia compared to controls and to explore the relations between OCT and visual function measures.

Methods: Participants in this pilot study were 12 individuals with schizophrenia spectrum disorders and 12 age- and sex-matched controls. Spectralis and Cirrus OCT machines were used to obtain retinal nerve fiber layer (RNFL) thickness and macular volume. Cirrus was used to obtain ganglion cell layer + inner plexiform layer (GCL + IPL) thickness. Visual function was assessed with low-contrast visual acuity and the King-Devick test of rapid number naming.

Results: There was excellent relative agreement in OCT measurements between the two machines, but poor absolute agreement, for both patients and controls. On both machines, people with schizophrenia showed decreased macular volume but no difference in RNFL thickness compared to controls. No between-group difference in GCL + IPL thickness was found on Cirrus. Controls showed significant associations between King-Devick performance and RNFL thickness and macular volume, and between low-contrast visual acuity and GCL + IPL thickness. Patients did not show significant associations between OCT measurements and visual function.

Conclusions: Good relative agreement suggests that the offset between machines remains constant and should not affect comparisons between groups. Decreased macular volume in individuals with schizophrenia on both machines supports findings of prior studies and provides further evidence that similar results may be found irrespective of OCT device.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.schres.2019.10.046DOI Listing
May 2020

The Association Between Smoking and Gut Microbiome in Bangladesh.

Nicotine Tob Res 2020 07;22(8):1339-1346

Department of Population Health, New York University School of Medicine, New York, NY.

Introduction: Epidemiological studies that investigate alterations in the gut microbial composition associated with smoking are lacking. This study examined the composition of the gut microbiome in smokers compared with nonsmokers.

Aims And Methods: Stool samples were collected in a cross-sectional study of 249 participants selected from the Health Effects of Arsenic Longitudinal Study in Bangladesh. Microbial DNA was extracted from the fecal samples and sequenced by 16S rRNA gene sequencing. The associations of smoking status and intensity of smoking with the relative abundance or the absence and presence of individual bacterial taxon from phylum to genus levels were examined.

Results: The relative abundance of bacterial taxa along the Erysipelotrichi-to-Catenibacterium lineage was significantly higher in current smokers compared to never-smokers. The odds ratio comparing the mean relative abundance in current smokers with that in never-smokers was 1.91 (95% confidence interval = 1.36-2.69) for the genus Catenibacterium and 1.89 (95% confidence interval = 1.39-2.56) for the family Erysipelotrichaceae, the order Erysipelotrichale, and the class Erysipelotrichi (false discovery rate-adjusted p values = .0008-.01). A dose-response association was observed for each of these bacterial taxa. The presence of Alphaproteobacteria was significantly greater comparing current with never-smokers (odds ratio = 4.85, false discovery rate-adjusted p values = .04).

Conclusions: Our data in a Bangladeshi population are consistent with evidence of an association between smoking status and dosage with change in the gut bacterial composition.

Implications: This study for the first time examined the relationship between smoking and the gut microbiome composition. The data suggest that smoking status may play an important role in the composition of the gut microbiome, especially among individuals with higher levels of tobacco exposure.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/ntr/ntz220DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7364824PMC
July 2020

MULES on the sidelines: A vision-based assessment tool for sports-related concussion.

J Neurol Sci 2019 Jul 28;402:52-56. Epub 2019 Apr 28.

Department of Neurology, New York University School of Medicine, New York, NY, USA; Department of Population Health, New York University School of Medicine, New York, NY, USA; Department of Ophthalmology, New York University School of Medicine, New York, NY, USA. Electronic address:

Objective: The Mobile Universal Lexicon Evaluation System (MULES) is a test of rapid picture naming under investigation. Measures of rapid automatic naming (RAN) have been used for over 50 years to capture aspects of vision and cognition. MULES was designed as a series of 54 grouped color photographs (fruits, random objects, animals) that integrates saccades, color perception and contextual object identification. We examined MULES performance in youth, collegiate and professional athletes at pre-season baseline and at the sidelines following concussion.

Methods: Our study teams administered the MULES to youth, collegiate and professional athletes during pre-season baseline testing. Sideline post-concussion time scores were compared to pre-season baseline scores among athletes with concussion to determine degrees and directions of change.

Results: Among 681 athletes (age 17 ± 4 years, range 6-37, 38% female), average test times at baseline were 41.2 ± 11.2 s. The group included 280 youth, 357 collegiate and 44 professional athletes; the most common sports were ice hockey (23%), soccer (17%) and football (11%). Age was a predictor of MULES test times, with longer times noted for younger participants (P < .001, linear regression). Consistent with other timed performance measures, significant learning effects were noted for the MULES during baseline testing with trial 1 test times (mean 49.2 ± 13.1 s) exceeding those for trial 2 (mean 41.3 ± 11.2 s, P < .0001, paired t-test). Among 17 athletes with concussion during the sports seasons captured to date (age 18 ± 3 years), all showed increases (worsening) of MULES time scores from pre-season baseline (median increase 11.2 s, range 0.6-164.2, P = .0003, Wilcoxon signed-rank test). The Symptom Severity Score from the SCAT5 Symptom Evaluation likewise worsened from pre-season baseline following injury among participants with concussion (P = .002).

Conclusions: Concussed athletes demonstrate worsening performance on the MULES test compared to their baseline time scores. This test samples a wide network of brain pathways and complements other vision-based measures for sideline concussion assessment. The MULES test demonstrates capacity to identify athletes with sports-related concussion.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jns.2019.04.036DOI Listing
July 2019

Optimal intereye difference thresholds by optical coherence tomography in multiple sclerosis: An international study.

Ann Neurol 2019 05 10;85(5):618-629. Epub 2019 Apr 10.

Department of Neurology, New York University School of Medicine, New York, NY.

Objective: To determine the optimal thresholds for intereye differences in retinal nerve fiber and ganglion cell + inner plexiform layer thicknesses for identifying unilateral optic nerve lesions in multiple sclerosis. Current international diagnostic criteria for multiple sclerosis do not include the optic nerve as a lesion site despite frequent involvement. Optical coherence tomography detects retinal thinning associated with optic nerve lesions.

Methods: In this multicenter international study at 11 sites, optical coherence tomography was measured for patients and healthy controls as part of the International Multiple Sclerosis Visual System Consortium. High- and low-contrast acuity were also collected in a subset of participants. Presence of an optic nerve lesion for this study was defined as history of acute unilateral optic neuritis.

Results: Among patients (n = 1,530), receiver operating characteristic curve analysis demonstrated an optimal peripapillary retinal nerve fiber layer intereye difference threshold of 5μm and ganglion cell + inner plexiform layer threshold of 4μm for identifying unilateral optic neuritis (n = 477). Greater intereye differences in acuities were associated with greater intereye retinal layer thickness differences (p ≤ 0.001).

Interpretation: Intereye differences of 5μm for retinal nerve fiber layer and 4μm for macular ganglion cell + inner plexiform layer are robust thresholds for identifying unilateral optic nerve lesions. These thresholds may be useful in establishing the presence of asymptomatic and symptomatic optic nerve lesions in multiple sclerosis and could be useful in a new version of the diagnostic criteria. Our findings lend further validation for utilizing the visual system in a multiple sclerosis clinical trial setting. Ann Neurol 2019;85:618-629.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ana.25462DOI Listing
May 2019