A sensitive reasoning test developed by clinicians and cognitive neuroscientists at the Center for BrainHealth at UT Dallas may be better at identifying certain cognitive defects caused by traumatic brain injury (TBI) than traditional cognitive tests.
In a study published in the Journal of Applied Biobehavioral Research, researchers found that a so-called gist reasoning test was better at helping doctors identify previously undiagnosed cognitive changes that could explain why people experience difficulty solving problems, understanding complex information or maintaining friendships.
Researchers used a gist reasoning measure called the Test of Strategic Learning to accurately identify 84.7 percent of patients with chronic TBI – a much higher rate than traditional cognitive-based tests that accurately identify TBI at a rate of between 42.3 and 67.5 percent.
The study involved 70 participants ages 18 to 55, 30 of whom had experienced a moderate to severe chronic TBI at least one year prior. All the participants had similar socioeconomic status, educational backgrounds, and IQ. Researchers were not told which patients had TBI while administering four different tests that measured abstract thinking. Researchers then used the results of the tests to predict which participants had suffered a TBI.
“Being able to ‘get the gist’ is essential for many day-to-day activities such as engaging in conversation, understanding meanings that are implied but not explicitly stated, creating shopping lists and resolving conflicts with others,” said study lead author Dr. Asha Vas of Texas Woman’s University. “The gist test requires multiple cognitive functions to work together.”
Researchers say that the gist reasoning test could someday be used as a tool to identify other cognitive impairments in patients and could also be used as a marker of cognitive changes in aging.
Source: News Medical Life Sciences