Thursday, December 30, 2010

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Neuropsychology of music and math disabilities: Guest blog post by Dr. Brad Hale

Dr. Brad Hale provided the following research information in a recent post on the PEDS listserv. With Brad's permission, I'm reproducing the information "as is." Thanks Brad.

There's lots of data now to support different types of math disability; we found 5 subtypes consistent with the NP and educational literature (visual-spatial, math reasoning, executive/computation, math facts/knowledge, Gerstmann Syndrome subtypes), we suggest are related to right posterior, right frontal, frontal-subcortical, left temporal/parietal, and left parietal dysfunction respectively. There were also two subtypes with math disability also showing the visual-spatial and math reasoning pattern in our SLD-psychopathology study. But clearly there are multiple neuropsychological processes involved in math and math disability, just like reading and reading disability. See the following articles/chapters (and our School Neuropsychology book):

Hale, J. B., Wycoff, K. L., & Fiorello, C. A. (2010). RTI and cognitive hypothesis testing for specific learning disabilities identification and intervention: The best of both worlds. In D. P. Flanagan & V. C. Alfonso (Eds.), Essentials of Specific Learning Disability Identification. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.

Hain, L. A., & Hale, J. B. (2010). “Nonverbal” learning disabilities or Asperger Syndrome? Clarification through cognitive hypothesis testing. In N. Mather & L. E. Jaffe (Eds.), Expert Psychological Report Writing. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons.

Hale, J. B. (2010). Cognitive hypothesis testing for a child with math disability. In C. A. Riccio, J. R. Sullivan, & M. J. Cohen (Eds.), Neuropsychological assessment and intervention for childhood and adolescent disorders (pp. 54-62). New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons.

Hain, L. A., Hale, J. B., & Glass-Kendorski, J. (2009). Comorbidity of psychopathology in cognitive and academic SLD subtypes. In S. G. Pfeifer & G. Rattan (Eds.), Emotional disorders: A neuropsychological, psychopharmacological, and educational perspective (pp. 199-226). Middletown, MD: School Neuropsychology Press.

Hale, J. B., Fiorello, C. A., Dumont, R., Willis, J. O., Rackley, C., & Elliott, C. (2008). Differential Ability Scales–Second Edition (neuro)psychological Predictors of Math Performance for Typical Children and Children with Math Disabilities. Psychology in the Schools, 45, 838-858.

Hale, J. B., Fiorello, C. A., Miller, J. A., Wenrich, K., Teodori, A. M., & Henzel, J. (2008). WISC-IV assessment and intervention strategies for children with specific learning disabilities. In A. Prifitera, D. H. Saklofske, & L. G. Weiss (Eds.), WISC-IV clinical assessment and intervention (2nd ed.) (pp. 109-171). New York, NY: Elsevier Science.

Hale, J. B., Fiorello, C. A., Kavanagh, J. A., Holdnack, J. A., & Aloe, A. M. (2007). Is the demise of IQ interpretation justified? A response to special issue authors. Applied Neuropsychology, 14, 37-51.

Hale, J. B., & Fiorello, C. A. (2004). School neuropsychology: A practitioner’s handbook. New York, NY: Guilford Press.

Hale, J. B., Fiorello, C. A., Bertin, M., & Sherman, R. (2003). Predicting math competency through neuropsychological interpretation of WISC-III variance components. Journal of Psychoeducational Assessment, 21, 358-380.

As for music, the old assumption that the right hemisphere is specialized for music doesn't seem to fit well with the data. With the right superior temporal lobe more sensitive to spectral information, and the left sensitive to temporal information, different aspects of music are processed in the right and left hemispheres. There are differences in which hemisphere processes drums, violin, and saxophone if I remember correctly... This also fits well with our knowledge of a right preference for prosody and a left preference for phonological processing. However, subcortical structures have also been implicated, so as Drs. Koziol and Budding like to remind us, we shouldn't go "corticocentric" in our explanation of musical processing and skill. Then there is the literature that fits with the left-automatized/right-novel aspect of music, where novices use more right hemisphere functions to listen/play music, whereas expert musicians use more the left. Finally, there is the emotional valence associated with music, and whether we like it or not! See below:

Auditory perception of temporal and spectral events in patients with focal left and right cerebral lesions*1

Donald A. Robin, Daniel Tranel and Hanna Damasio
Available online 30 August 2004.
The auditory perception of temporal and spectral information was studied in subjects with lesions in the temporoparietal region of the left (LH group), or right (RH group) hemisphere (n = 5 in each group) and in five normal controls. The temporal tasks included gap detection and two complex pattern perception tasks in which subjects had to identify the placement of the two closest tones (separated by the shortest interval) within a sequence of six tones. The spectral tasks involved pitch matching and frequency discrimination. The results showed a “double dissociation”: (1) the LH group was impaired in their ability to perceive temporal information, but the perception of spectral information was normal, and (2) the RH group was impaired in their ability to perceive spectral information, but the perception of temporal information was normal. The findings are consistent with the notion that temporal processing is a function of left-hemisphere structures and that spectral processing is a function of right-hemisphere structures.

Brain Organization for Music Processing
Annual Review of Psychology
Vol. 56: 89-114 (Volume publication date February 2005)
First published online as a Review in Advance on June 21, 2004
Isabelle Peretz and Robert J. Zatorre
Research on how the brain processes music is emerging as a rich and stimulating area of investigation of perception, memory, emotion, and performance. Results emanating from both lesion studies and neuroimaging techniques are reviewed and integrated for each of these musical functions. We focus our attention on the common core of musical abilities shared by musicians and nonmusicians alike. Hence, the effect of musical training on brain plasticity is examined in a separate section, after a review of the available data regarding music playing and reading skills that are typically cultivated by musicians. Finally, we address a currently debated issue regarding the putative existence of music-specific neural networks. Unfortunately, due to scarcity of research on the macrostructure of music organization and on cultural differences, the musical material under focus is at the level of the musical phrase, as typically used in Western popular music.
How Many Music Centers Are in the Brain?

Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences
Volume 930, THE BIOLOGICAL FOUNDATIONS OF MUSIC pages 273–280, June 2001
Abstract: When reviewing the literature on brain substrates of music processing, a puzzling variety of findings can be stated. The traditional view of a left-right dichotomy of brain organization—assuming that in contrast to language, music is primarily processed in the right hemisphere—was challenged 20 years ago, when the influence of music education on brain lateralization was demonstrated. Modern concepts emphasize the modular organization of music cognition. According to this viewpoint, different aspects of music are processed in different, although partly overlapping neuronal networks of both hemispheres. However, even when isolating a single “module,” such as, for example, the perception of contours, the interindividual variance of brain substrates is enormous. To clarify the factors contributing to this variability, we conducted a longitudinal experiment comparing the effects of procedural versus explicit music teaching on brain networks. We demonstrated that cortical activation during music processing reflects the auditory “learning biography,” the personal experiences accumulated over time. Listening to music, learning to play an instrument, formal instruction, and professional training result in multiple, in many instances multisensory, representations of music, which seem to be partly interchangeable and rapidly adaptive. In summary, as soon as we consider “real music” apart from laboratory experiments, we have to expect individually formed and quickly adaptive brain substrates, including widely distributed neuronal networks in both hemispheres

Functional Anatomy of Musical Perception in Musicians

Takashi Ohnishi,
Hiroshi Matsuda,
Takashi Asada,
Makoto Aruga1,
Makiko Hirakata1,
Masami Nishikawa,
Asako Katoh and
Etsuko Imabayashi

The present study used functional magnetic resonance to examine the cerebral activity pattern associated with musical perception in musicians and non-musicians. Musicians showed left dominant secondary auditory areas in the temporal cortex and the left posterior dorsolateral prefrontal cortex during a passive music listening task, whereas non-musicians demonstrated right dominant secondary auditory areas during the same task. A significant difference in the degree of activation between musicians and non-musicians was noted in the bilateral planum temporale and the left posterior dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. The degree of activation of the left planum temporale correlated well with the age at which the person had begun musical training. Furthermore, the degree of activation in the left posterior dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and the left planum temporale correlated significantly with absolute pitch ability. The results indicated distinct neural activity in the auditory association areas and the prefrontal cortex of trained musicians. We suggest that such activity is associated with absolute pitch ability and the use-dependent functional reorganization produced by the early commencement of long-term training.

Hits to the left, flops to the right: different emotions during listening to music are reflected in cortical lateralisation patterns
Eckart Altenmüller, , Kristian Schürmann, Vanessa K. Lim and Dietrich Parlitz
In order to investigate the neurobiological mechanisms accompanying emotional valence judgements during listening to complex auditory stimuli, cortical direct current (dc)-electroencephalography (EEG) activation patterns were recorded from 16 right-handed students. Students listened to 160 short sequences taken from the repertoires of jazz, rock-pop, classical music and environmental sounds (each n=40). Emotional valence of the perceived stimuli were rated on a 5-step scale after each sequence. Brain activation patterns during listening revealed widespread bilateral fronto-temporal activation, but a highly significant lateralisation effect: positive emotional attributions were accompanied by an increase in left temporal activation, negative by a more bilateral pattern with preponderance of the right fronto-temporal cortex. Female participants demonstrated greater valence-related differences than males. No differences related to the four stimulus categories could be detected, suggesting that the actual auditory brain activation patterns were more determined by their affective emotional valence than by differences in acoustical “fine” structure. The results are consistent with a model of hemispheric specialisation concerning perceived positive or negative emotions proposed by Heilman [Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience 9 (1997) 439].

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Research brief: WAIS IV factor structure article

Click on image to enlarge. A related publication (IAP AP101 Report #2) regarding the WAISIV factor structure can be found here.

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Monday, December 27, 2010

Book nook: Long-term Memory Problems in Children and Adolescents - Dr. Milt Dehn

Another excellent theory/science-practice "bridging" book by Dr. Milt Dehn, this time addressing problems in long-term memory. I received a free copy of this book from Dr. Dehn and only have had time to page thru it. It looks like a valuable resource for assessment professionals who seek to provide theory and research-based recommendations for students identified with Glr and Gc deficits as per CHC theory. I was particularly drawn to Dr. Dehn's analysis of various batteries and tests of Glr.

Info regarding the book can be found at the publishers web site or Amazon.

This is the second of Dr. Dehn's science/theory-practice books...the first dealing with working memory (click here for prior post).

Kudos to Dr. Dehn.

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German Gc (crystallized IQ) res. synthesis supports Flynn Effect

Copy of open access article can be found by clicking here. Double click on image to enlarge.

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Friday, December 24, 2010

Test your Reaction Time

Reaction time is the time it takes to react to something. It can be considered as an index of your speed of processing: It shows how fast you can execute the mental operations needed by the task at hand.

Reaction Time is a basic measure used in many psychology studies. Participant are most often asked to push a button when done with the task, which can be as varied as detecting an object, memorizing a word, or identifying an emotion. As brain processing is quite fast, reaction times are usually measured in milliseconds (a thousandth (1/1000) of a second).

What is your average Reaction Time? Ready to try? Click here to start. Fun twist: Try before and after your Christmas dinner!

Merry Christmas from the SharpBrains Team

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Kevin McGrew, PhD
Educational Psychologist

Happy holidays from the blogmaster from IAP


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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Genetic cause of severe impulsivity?@PsyPost, 12/23/10 3:09 PM (@PsyPost)
12/23/10 3:09 PM
Genetic variant that can lead to severe impulsivity identified: A multinational research team led by scientists ...

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Kevin McGrew, PhD
Educational Psychologist

New cognitive development book@psypress, 12/23/10 3:32 AM

Psychology Press (@psypress)
12/23/10 3:32 AM
Just published! Understanding children's #cognitive #development through the lens of #memory research

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Kevin McGrew, PhD
Educational Psychologist

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

iPost. And more free online articles@psypress, 12/21/10 8:40 AM

Psychology Press (@psypress)
12/21/10 8:40 AM
Who's interested in the Cognitive Neuroscience of #Language? 2 free articles until 1 Jan 2011

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Kevin McGrew, PhD
Educational Psychologist

iPost: free online articles@psypress, 12/21/10 3:29 AM

Psychology Press (@psypress)
12/21/10 3:29 AM
10 cog. & exp. #psychology articles to read from QJEP, Cognition & Emotion, Cognitive Neuropsychology jnls + more!

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Kevin McGrew, PhD
Educational Psychologist

Sunday, December 19, 2010

IQ tests and theory trends: Google Ngram visualizations

This past week I read a very intriguing article in the New York Times about a new data visualization tool offered by Google-- the Google Books Ngram Viewer. I then ran across a legal blog post where someone had investigated trends in different law terms...and I couldn't help myself but to give it a try.

As described by Robert Ambrogi at the legal blog:

"Using data drawn from the millions of books it has digitized covering the years 1500 to 2008, it lets you see and compare the frequency of words and phrases as they were used in books over a span of years or centuries. As Google puts it: “The Ngram Viewer lets you graph and compare phrases from these datasets over time, showing how their usage has waxed and waned over the years.”

I first had to experiment with how the entered terms worked. The terms are case sensitive. I checked each phrase with a variety of permutations to maximum the "hit rate"...and then ran some phrases together to ascertain and compare trends.

Below are my results with a few comments--the data tend to speak for themselves. I found that most of what I searched for did not emerge until after that is where each graph starts. It is also important to note that the graphs only go up thru would be nice to see the graphs up today

Cool stuff. Double click on each graph to enlarge.

This chart suggests that the cognitive ability domains of Gv (Visual Processing), Ga (Auditory Processing), and Processing Speed (Gs) have become hotter topics than Gf (Fluid Intelligence), Gc (Crystallized Intelligence), Gsm (Short term Memory), and Glr (Long term Retrieval). Interesting.

One very clear observation. Among the non-Wechsler intelligence batteries, the Stanford Binet has dropped dramatically over time, while the "newbies" on the IQ testing block (WJ, DAS, KABC, CAS) have made been the focus of more writing since 1990. Note, "Wechsler Intelligence", when included, is the clear winner across time. I left it out so the trends for the "other" batteries would be more distinct.

As I have written about many times, contemporary Cattell-Horn-Carroll (CHC) intelligence theory has become the consensus theory of intelligence. This interesting graph supports this conclusion, especially from 1997 to 2008. Also, if one clicks on the search term in the summary table, one is taken to a page of the Google books that included the term. Click here to see example for CHC theory.

I think many of the trends noted above are due to emergence of Gf-Gc theory to CHC theory with the publication of the 1989 WJ-R. I've written about this critical theory-to-practice birth period here and here.

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Friday, December 17, 2010

IQs Corner recent literature of interest 12-17-10

This weeks installment of IQ's Corner Recent Literature of Interest is now available by clicking here.

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impost: Top 10 Psych studies from 2010 courtesy SharpBrains

Alvaro Fernandez (@AlvaroF)
12/17/10 11:14 AM
Top 10 Psychology Studies from 2010: David DiSalvo, a science and technology writer whose posts we share with yo...

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Kevin McGrew, PhD
Educational Psychologist

Thanks to my first Alma mater for the award..I am humbled and honored

iPost: Harder-to-read fonts boost student learning

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Kevin McGrew, PhD
Educational Psychologist

Thursday, December 16, 2010

iPost: Announcing the 2011 SharpBrains Summit: 23 Confirmed Speakers

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Kevin McGrew, PhD
Educational Psychologist

Research bytes: Verbal ability and executive functioning in preschoolers

As per usual when I make a research byte/brief post, if anyone would like to read the original article, I can share via email---with the understanding that the article is provided in exchange for a brief guest post about it's contents. :) (contact me at if interested). Also, if figure/images are included in the post, they can usually be made larger by clicking on the image.

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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Institute for Applied Psychometrics (IAP) main office

[Note..images/pictures can be made larger by double clicking on the image]

Have made some recent changes in the home office of IAP. Here is an updated picture. One can never have enough screens active--there are five in total..can you find the fifth? Also, one can not work without a good big cup of strong coffee in a mug from the Directors favorite coffee house (second office)---Caribou coffee.

This is the g-factor of IAP and IQ's Corner, the ICDP, and the Tic Toc Brain Talk blogs.

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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Research bytes: Cognitive employment testing--aging strategies--cognitive thresholds

Three interesting articles from one of my favorite journals--Current Directions in Psychological Science.

As per usual when I make a research byte/brief post, if anyone would like to read the original article, I can share via email---with the understanding that the article is provided in exchange for a brief guest post about it's contents. :) (contact me at if interested). Also, if figure/images are included in the post, they can usually be made larger by clicking on the image.

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impost: Current Directions in Psychological Science Table of Contents for 1 December 2010; Vol. 19, No. 6

Subject: Current Directions in Psychological Science Table of Contents for 1 December 2010; Vol. 19, No. 6

Current Directions in Psychological Science Online Table of Contents Alert

A new issue of Current Directions in Psychological Science is available online:
1 December 2010; Vol. 19, No. 6

The below Table of Contents is available online at:

Fact and Fiction in Cognitive Ability Testing for Admissions and Hiring Decisions
Nathan R. Kuncel and Sarah A. Hezlett
Curr Dir Psychol Sci 2010;19 339-345

Beyond the Threshold Hypothesis: Even Among the Gifted and Top Math/Science Graduate Students, Cognitive Abilities, Vocational Interests, and Lifestyle Preferences Matter for Career Choice, Performance, and Persistence
Kimberley Ferriman Robertson, Stijn Smeets, David Lubinski, and Camilla P. Benbow
Curr Dir Psychol Sci 2010;19 346-351

Emotion Regulation in Older Age
Heather L. Urry and James J. Gross
Curr Dir Psychol Sci 2010;19 352-357

Pathways Linking Positive Emotion and Health in Later Life
Anthony D. Ong
Curr Dir Psychol Sci 2010;19 358-362

Cognitive Strategy Variations During Aging
Patrick Lemaire
Curr Dir Psychol Sci 2010;19 363-369

Alternative Avenues in the Assessment of Driving Capacities in Older Drivers and Implications for Training
Pierre-Luc Gamache, Carol Hudon, Normand Teasdale, and Martin Simoneau
Curr Dir Psychol Sci 2010;19 370-374

Threat Perception Across the Life Span: Evidence for Multiple Converging Pathways
Vanessa LoBue, David H. Rakison, and Judy S. DeLoache
Curr Dir Psychol Sci 2010;19 375-379

Propositions for the Study of Moral Personality Development
Patrick L. Hill and Brent W. Roberts
Curr Dir Psychol Sci 2010;19 380-383

A New Look at Selective-Exposure Effects: An Integrative Model
Peter Fischer and Tobias Greitemeyer
Curr Dir Psychol Sci 2010;19 384-389

Over the Hills and Far Away: The Link Between Physical Distance and Abstraction
Marlone D. Henderson and Cheryl J. Wakslak
Curr Dir Psychol Sci 2010;19 390-394

Tobacco Dependence: Insights from Investigations of Self-Reported Motives
Thomas M. Piasecki, Megan E. Piper, and Timothy B. Baker
Curr Dir Psychol Sci 2010;19 395-401

Gaining Insight Into the "Aha" Experience
Sascha Topolinski and Rolf Reber
Curr Dir Psychol Sci 2010;19 402-405

Distress Tolerance: Theory, Measurement, and Relations to Psychopathology
Michael J. Zvolensky, Anka A. Vujanovic, Amit Bernstein, and Teresa Leyro
Curr Dir Psychol Sci 2010;19 406-410

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Institute for Applied Psychometrics (IAP) new logo

The votes have been counted (at the IAP logo survey at IQ's Corner blog).  Thank you to all who took the time to vote and send comments.  There was a clear winner.  It is reproduced below....with a slight change in the placement of the bell curve.  And yes...there is a deliberate slight skew to the normal is more visually eye-catching than a perfect normal curve.  Over the next month I will be working to integrate the new logo in all critical IAP-related blogs and web pages.

Many thanks to my great son-in-law, Anthony, who did all the design work.  He does great work.  It is personal XMAS present to me...and it will be treasured for a long time.

IQs Corner Book Nook: Essentials of SLD identification & Human Intelligence

Just in time for the holidays. Two books to purchase for your family and friends---i.e., if they are interested in research on human intelligence and contemporary research and issues surrounding the identification of individuals with specific learning disabilities.

Within the past month I've received two free copies of the following books. I've only had time to thumb through them, so I cannot comment in detail about their strengths, limitations, etc. They are both placed on my ever increasing stack of "books to read when I have time." [Hint to publishers--the sooner you get these in e-pub format, especially for my iPad, the sooner I will likely fine time to read them :) ]

First is Human Intelligence by Earl "Buzz" Hunt. Dr. Hunt has a long resume in the field of human intelligence research. This appears to be a capstone summary of his take on human intelligence from his decades of scholarly study. No doubt I will eventually find it a useful primary reference resource book for many issues in the field of intelligence.

Next is the edited Essentials of Specific Learning Disability Identification. Dr. Dawn Flanagan and Dr. Vincent Alfonso (leaders and advocates of the "Cross-Battery" approach to cognitive assessment) edited this collection of diverse perspectives on how to identify SLD. I am impressed with the stable of authors who contributed chapters. They represent most of the big names within their respective cognitive and SLD research and theory sandboxes. I did skim the preface by Dr. Cecil Reynolds and know that I will also suffer some of the same cognitive dissonance he describes as the various authors present different methods for conceptualizing and operationalizing LD. This is not a criticism by Dr. Reynolds--just the astute conclusion that this book reflects that "state-of-the-art" of the research and thinking by many of the major players in the field of SLD...and as a result, there are differences in approaches. That being said, clearly this book appears to be an excellent source for those looking to capture the essence of where the field of SLD is---with all the various players and flavors.

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New intelligence test - social intelligence? Gullibility?

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Research byte: More on the "nose knows" - Go and cognition

I continue to be intrigued with the increasing research on the domain of Go.......I have posted a number of articles at my blog over the past five years (can be found by clicking on Go category label) that indicate that it is a separate cognitive domain and, more importantly, it has significant diagnostic potential for a wide array of cognitive disorders, esp. during the early stages of a disorder.

The nose knows :)

Cognitive factors in odor detection, odor discrimination, and odor identification tasks. Journal of Experimental and Clinical Neuropsycholgy, 32 (10), 1062–1067

Authors: Margareta Hednerab; Maria Larssonab; Nancy Arnoldc; Gesualdo M. Zuccod; Thomas Hummelc


The purpose of this study was to determine cognitive correlates of olfactory performance across three different tasks. A total of 170 men and women (30-87 years of age) were assessed in olfactory sensitivity, discrimination, and identification. Also, participants were tested in a range of cognitive tests covering executive functioning, semantic memory, and episodic memory. Hierarchical regression analyses showed that proficiency in executive functioning and semantic memory contributed significantly to odor discrimination and identification performance, whereas all of the cognitive factors proved unrelated to performance in the odor threshold test. This pattern of outcome suggests that an individual's cognitive profile exerts a reliable influence on performance in higher order olfactory tasks.

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