The ability to produce the correct words while speaking is critical for social, academic and occupational functioning. Unfortunately, word finding or ?naming? can become impaired in a number of neurological disorders involving cortical function, and thus, naming assessment is an integral component of neuropsychological evaluation. As naming is mediated by the temporal lobe region, naming assessment plays a critical role in the evaluation of temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) patients. Our initial work in this area addressed multiple shortcomings in naming assessment in epilepsy, which historically, was limited to visual object naming. Through cortical mapping, we found a dissociation between cortical areas that support naming based on visual versus auditory cues. In line with this, the auditory naming and complementary visual naming tests we developed and standardized (published in 2003) were found to assist in lateralizing and localizing cortical dysfunction associated with seizure onset, thereby aiding the presurgical evaluation for refractory epilepsy patients. Based on this initial work, we developed and standardized pediatric versions of these measures, and will soon complete standardization of auditory and complementary visual naming tests for older adults, ages 56-95. Importantly, the original tests which included only adults up to age 55, did not adequately consider longevity of the stimuli, and the normative data were limited. We continue to receive numerous requests for these tests; however, the original tests are not up to current standards, leaving a critical gap in high quality naming assessment for ages 16-55, when the vast majority of epilepsy surgeries are performed. Based on years of experience with the original measures, the pediatric and older-adult naming tests are vastly improved with regard to psychometric properties and normative data. The stimuli in the older-adults tests are also very well-suited for adolescents and younger adults. Capitalizing on our laboratory infrastructure and experience, the proposed project will upgrade the tests and normative data to current standards for ages 16-55, and validate these measures in left (dominant) and right TLE patients, enabling continued use of auditory and visual naming in younger adults with epilepsy, earlier detection of language decline in the context of degenerative processes, and more generally, provide high quality naming assessment for adolescence through late adulthood for any neurocognitive disorder.

Public Health Relevance

Severe word finding or ?naming? difficulty is a symptom of many neurological disorders, and therefore, it is important that clinicians and researchers have tests that accurately measure naming ability. Historically, naming has been tested only by visual object naming tasks; however, research has shown that the addition of auditory description naming provides clinically important information as well. This project will fill a current gap in the assessment of auditory and visual naming for young through middle aged adults, providing updated, sensitive and thorough measures to assess naming throughout the age span.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)
Small Research Grants (R03)
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Language and Communication Study Section (LCOM)
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Whittemore, Vicky R
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Columbia University (N.Y.)
Schools of Medicine
New York
United States
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