There is intense scientific interest in normal and pathological cognitive functioning in older adults that has been stimulated by the rapid increase in the older segment of the population. The increasing prevalence with advancing age of debilitating diseases like Alzheimer's disease has led to a need for clinical and research methods for measurement of effects of these diseases, and cognitive tests play a major role in diagnosis and monitoring of disease status and progression. Increasing demographic diversity creates special challenges for accurate measurement of cognition. Most neuropsychological tests of cognition that are in clinical and research use were developed using psychometric methods from the first half of the 20th century. There have been substantial advances in measurement theory and methodology, notably item response theory (IRT) and associated methods, that could have an important impact on the measurement of cognition, study design, and analysis of cognitive variables. This conference series is designed to promote the application of modern psychometric methods in research on cognitive decline associated with diseases of aging. Specific goals are: 1) to expose developing and established researchers in cognitive aging to modern psychometric techniques, 2) to expose experts in psychometric theory to the practical and theoretical concerns of cognitive aging research, and 3) encourage production of manuscripts based on the interactions of researchers, psychometricians, and statisticians during these conferences. We have had three successful annual conferences to date, and this experience has helped to shape our plans for the planned series of conferences. The format of the conferences will include didactic presentations by experts in cognitive aging and applied psychometric theory, demonstrations of psychometric and statistical analytic methods, and most importantly, hands-on experience using real data. This content and format is not only appropriate for encouraging education and collaboration of seasoned researchers but has also been an extremely effective learning environment for graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and junior faculty with these interests. The main objectives of the first annual conference will be to address measurement issues that can enhance ability of cognitive tests to detect effects of Alzheimer and cerebrovascular disease. In subsequent years, the topics will focus on cognitive reserve, normative aging, the relationship between brain structure and cognition, and measurement bias in demographically diverse groups. As in previous years, there will be a heavy emphasis on workgroups organized around scientific analyses of real data, and we plan to disseminate the information resulting from these workshops in both traditional academic outlets (e.g. submission of manuscripts for peer reviewed scientific journals) and through symposia at annual scientific conferences.

Public Health Relevance

Dementing illnesses of aging like Alzheimer's disease are defined by their debilitating effects on cognitive abilities like memory, language, planning and organization, and reasoning. Modern psychometric methods have promise to improve measurement of cognition to enhance ability for early diagnosis and advance research on mechanisms and treatments of cognitive decline in older persons.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Aging (NIA)
Conference (R13)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
National Institute on Aging Initial Review Group (NIA)
Program Officer
Wagster, Molly V
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
University of California Davis
Schools of Medicine
United States
Zip Code
Dmitrieva, Natalia O; Fyffe, Denise; Mukherjee, Shubhabrata et al. (2015) Demographic characteristics do not decrease the utility of depressive symptoms assessments: examining the practical impact of item bias in four heterogeneous samples of older adults. Int J Geriatr Psychiatry 30:88-96
Sisco, Shannon; Gross, Alden L; Shih, Regina A et al. (2015) The role of early-life educational quality and literacy in explaining racial disparities in cognition in late life. J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci 70:557-67
Melrose, Rebecca J; Brewster, Paul; Marquine, MarĂ­a J et al. (2015) Early life development in a multiethnic sample and the relation to late life cognition. J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci 70:519-31
Dodge, Hiroko H; Zhu, Jian; Harvey, Danielle et al. (2014) Biomarker progressions explain higher variability in stage-specific cognitive decline than baseline values in Alzheimer disease. Alzheimers Dement 10:690-703
Mungas, Dan; Tractenberg, Rochelle; Schneider, Julie A et al. (2014) A 2-process model for neuropathology of Alzheimer's disease. Neurobiol Aging 35:301-8
Mukherjee, Shubhabrata; Kim, Sungeun; Ramanan, Vijay K et al. (2014) Gene-based GWAS and biological pathway analysis of the resilience of executive functioning. Brain Imaging Behav 8:110-8
Yang, Frances M; Grigorenko, Alexander; Tommet, Doug et al. (2013) AD pathology and cerebral infarctions are associated with memory and executive functioning one and five years before death. J Clin Exp Neuropsychol 35:24-34
Gavett, Brandon E; Crane, Paul K; Dams-O'Connor, Kristen (2013) Bi-factor analyses of the Brief Test of Adult Cognition by Telephone. NeuroRehabilitation 32:253-65
Ard, M Colin; Galasko, Douglas R; Edland, Steven D (2013) Improved statistical power of Alzheimer clinical trials by item-response theory: proof of concept by application to the activities of daily living scale. Alzheimer Dis Assoc Disord 27:187-91
Hayden, Kathleen M; Reed, Bruce R; Manly, Jennifer J et al. (2011) Cognitive decline in the elderly: an analysis of population heterogeneity. Age Ageing 40:684-9

Showing the most recent 10 out of 15 publications