Comparing Measures to Capture Attention Difficulties in Young Children with Neurofibromatosis 1

Isabel Crespo, “Comparing Measures to Capture Attention Difficulties in Young Children with Neurofibromatosis 1”
Mentor: Bonita Klein-Tasman, Psychology

Neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) is an autosomal dominant disorder that presents with medical symptoms and increased risks of difficulties in various areas of cognitive functioning. Previous research has shown that children with NF1 often have difficulty with attention, many meeting criteria for Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). The purpose of this study was to assess the reliability of two commonly used computerized measures used to evaluate attention. This project involves two different samples of preschoolers with NF1. The first sample (N=22; Mage=4.95 (SD = 0.66)) completed the Conner’s Kiddie Continuous Performance Test (KCPT). The second sample (N=18; Mage=5.44 (SD = 0.76)) completed the second edition of the measure, the KCPT-2. Both versions of the measure assess attention. Cognitive functioning and gender distribution were not significantly different across groups, however the KCPT sample had significantly younger participants. We found that the children in the KCPT group overall demonstrated better performance than the KCPT-2 group. The standard scores for the Omissions (p=0.015), Hit Reaction Time (HRT) (p=0.003), Hit Reaction Time Standard Error (HRT SE) (p=0.006), and Response Styles (p=0.001) subscales were all significantly lower in the KCPT-2 group. Our analysis of the KCPT and KCPT 2 resulted in disparate outcomes. More specifically, in this study, the newer measure yields more difficulties, suggestive of greater sensitivity to attention difficulties. Examination of the test manuals for these measures suggest that perhaps the differences between the normative group samples of the two tests (KCPT and KCPT-2) are significant enough to affect how well children with NF1 perform on each test. Based on these results, clinicians and researchers may need to be cautious in their interpretations of attention symptomatology when using these measures with children with NF1, as different versions of the measure may yield different conclusions about the presence of attention difficulties in children with NF1.

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  1. I have a concern: Group 1 tested on Test 1 and Group 2 tested on Test 2. Is there a proven fact that the groups would perform the same on the same test? If that was established, then it makes sense to focus on the tests, if the outcome is different. Without clear established evidence that Gr1 and Gr2 are very similar, then you have to wonder if there are differences between these groups that should be considered…

    1. Thank for your comment! Test 2 is simply a more recent version of the same KCPT test. Looking at the manuals, we expected that the two versions would assess attention difficulties similarly. The two variables we chose for determining differences between groups were cognitive ability, sex, and age. No significant differences were found in cognitive ability or sex distribution between group 1 an group 2.

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