Thursday, September 29, 2011

Research byte: Genetics of cognitive ability and cognitive aging (Harris & Deary, 2011)

Harris, S. E., & Deary, I. J. (2011). The genetics of cognitive ability and cognitive ageing in healthy older people. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 15(9), 388-394.

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A brief history of the brain - life - 26 September 2011 - New Scientist

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Teen increase in intelligence Gs (processing speed) related @PsychNews, 9/29/11 4:42 PM

Psychology News (@PsychNews)
9/29/11 4:42 PM
Teens Become Smarter in Part by Becoming Mentally Faster

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Trends In Cognitive Sciences special issue on genetics and cognition

Bilder, R. M., Howe, A., Novak, N., Sabb, F. W., & Parker, D. S. (2011). The genetics of cognitive impairment in schizophrenia: a phenomic perspective. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 15(9), 428-435.

Geschwind, D. H. (2011). Genetics of autism spectrum disorders. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 15(9), 409-416.

Harris, S. E., & Deary, I. J. (2011). The genetics of cognitive ability and cognitive ageing in healthy older people. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 15(9), 388-394.

Hyde, L. W., Bogdan, R., & Hariri, A. R. (2011). Understanding risk for psychopathology through imaging gene-environment interactions. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 15(9), 417-427.

Loth, E., Carvalho, F., & Schumann, G. (2011). The contribution of imaging genetics to the development of predictive markers for addictions. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 15(9), 436-446.

Morse, S. J. (2011). Genetics and criminal responsibility. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 15(9), 378-380.

Munafo, M. R., & Flint, J. (2011). Dissecting the genetic architecture of human personality. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 15(9), 395-400.

Papassotiropoulos, A., & deQuervain, D. J. F. (2011). Genetics of human episodic memory: dealing with complexity. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 15(9), 381-387.

Robbins, T. W., & Kousta, S. (2011). Uncovering the genetic underpinnings of cognition. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 15(9), 375-377.

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Research bytes: Executive function inhibitory function as active goal maintenance

Interesting article regarding how the inhibitory function of executive functions is hypothesized to be a side effect of the active goal maintenance function of the prefrontal cortex. Article from one of my most favorite journals for concise overview of contemporary cognitive science research.

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Using smart phones in cognitive research@jonmsutton, 9/29/11 3:39 AM

Jon Sutton (@jonmsutton)
9/29/11 3:39 AM
How smartphones can revolutionise research in cognitive science

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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Must see--visual memory into video reconstruction @neuinfo, 9/27/11 7:26 PM

Neuroscience Info (@neuinfo)
9/27/11 7:26 PM
visual memory into video reconstruction - a must see @

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Training executive function in infants possible?@neuroconscience, 9/27/11 8:55 AM

Micah Allen (@neuroconscience)
9/27/11 8:55 AM
Study demonstrates successful executive function training in infants: Current Biology

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American Behavioral Scientist study suggests Twitter can foster sense of personal communities

This is a bit off-topic for my blogs, but I am a user of various social media, primarily for professional purposes. But, others use social media like Twitter to form personal social networks....and now, one study suggests it can help provide a form of sense of a personal community. Double click on images to enlarge

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FYiPOST: New Psycholinguistics books

Psychology Press

New in Psycholinguistics

Talking Heads
The Neuroscience of Language
By Gianfranco Denes

Biological Foundations of Language Production
A Special Issue of Language and Cognitive Processes
Edited by Michele Miozzo and Brenda Rapp

Morphology in Language Comprehension, Production and Acquisitione
A Special Issue of Language and Cognitive Processes
Edited by Raymond Bertram, Jukka Hyönä, and Matti Laine

New in Statistics

Understanding The New Statistics
Effect Sizes, Confidence Intervals, and Meta-Analysis
By Geoff Cumming

IBM SPSS Statistics 19 Made Simple
By Colin D. Gray and Paul R. Kinnear

Structural Equation Modeling with Mplus
Basic Concepts, Applications, and Programming
By Barbara M. Byrne

Biological Foundations of Language Production and Morphology in Language Comprehension, Production and Acquisition are Special Issues of:

Language and Cognitive Processes

Incorporating the Cognitive Neuroscience of Language Special Section

Lorraine K. Tyler, University of Cambridge, UK

This journal provides an international forum for the publication of theoretical and experimental research into the mental processes and representations involved in language use. The psychological study of language has attracted increasing research interest over the past three decades, and Language and Cognitive Processes emphasises the importance of an interdisciplinary approach to the study of this enterprise.

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Visit our Special Offer page to read free sample articles from the Language and Cognitive Processes and all our Cognitive Psychology journals.

New Journal from Psychology Press in 2012!

Writing Systems Research

Vivian Cook, University of Newcastle, UK
Jyotsna Vaid, Texas A & M University, USA
Benedetta Bassetti, University of York, UK

From January 2012 Psychology Press will be publishing Writing Systems Research, an outstanding journal featuring original empirical or theoretical articles concerned with any issue to do with the analysis, acquisition, development or processing of writing systems in contemporary, historical or fictional use in normal or impaired single or multiple language users.

New Books from Psychology Press & Routledge July-September 2011

This online catalog contains details of all our new behavioral science books published July-September 2011.

This catalog can be downloaded as a PDF or viewed online:

News and updates on Twitter & Facebook

You can get Psychology Press news and updates on Twitter.

Psychology Press news and updates on FacebookYou can also now get Psychology Press news and updates on Facebook.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Personal Recommended Reading: The Fifth Agreement - Toltec Wisdom

I read this simple book a while back and return to it frequently when I find the need for a little personal perspective on things. The five agreements make eminent sense for a more real and sane approach to living. Although not written from research in cognitive psychology, one can relate the five agreements to some solid research on cognitive thinking and cognitive restructuring of thoughts. I have now made a "five agreements" cheat sheet that is the wallpaper on my iPad screen---so I am reminded of the five concepts constantly. I am skimming the book again.

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Research Byte: Easily learned-easily remembered (ELER) phenomena related to ability conception

Thinking dispositions have been found important for learning, especially the entity v incremental belief in the fixed or malleable nature of ones abilities. Additional information can be found by clicking here (MACM model).

The following study suggests that the ELER phenomena may be a function of a ility conception. Double click on image to enlarge.

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Sunday, September 25, 2011

Research Byte: Extraversion differentially related to 3 executive function abilities?

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Research Byte: Personality type may differentially influence reading and math

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Research Byte: Adolescents understanding the perspective of others---a matter of differential brain growth?

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Beyond IQ Series #15: Academic Self-Concept

Current MACM Series Installment

This is the 15th installment in the Beyond IQ series. This installment defines academic self-cocept and lists a variety of implications for learning. [All installments in this series (and other related posts and research) can be found by clicking here].


Academic Self-Concept: Definition and Conceptual Background

“Self-concept as a construct has had a long history within psychology and education because it provides a gauge to determine the effects of academic and social functioning on the emotional well-being of the individual” (Vaughn et al., 2001, p. 54). Self-concept is generally viewed as a valued educational outcome. Self-concept is typically defined as a person’s general composite or collective view of themselves across multidimensional sets of domain specific- perceptions, based on self-knowledge and evaluation of value or worth of one’s own capabilities formed through experiences with and interpretations of the environment (Byrnes, 2003; Eccles, 2005; Snow et al., 1996).

The construct of self-concept is grounded primarily in self-worth theory (Covington, 1992; Covington, 1998; Covington, 2000; Covington & Dray, 2002; Eccles & Wigfield, 2002). Briefly, self-worth theory suggests that all individuals have a motivational “tendency to establish and maintain a positive self-image, or sense of self-worth”(Eccles & Wigfield, 2002, p. 122). Since children spend a significant portion of their lives being evaluated in school classrooms, self-worth theory postulates that a key to developing and maintaining self-worth is to develop and maintain a positive academic self-concept.

Historically, self-concept research has emphasized a general omnibus self-concept, while contemporary research focuses on a multidimensional construct with distinct facets or domains. Although the consensus is not unanimous (Harter, 1990), in general, it is believed that domain-specific self-concept perceptions (e.g., academic, physical, social) are organized in a hierarchical structure with the general omnibus self-concept at the apex of the hierarchy (Bong & Skaalvik, 2003; Bornholt & Goodnow, 1999a; Byrne, 2002; Shavelson, Hubner, & Stanton, 1976; Skaalvik & Skaalvik, 2002). The Shavelson hierarchical model (Shavelson et al., 1976), a model that splits global self-concept into academic and nonacademic branches, has received the greatest empirical scrutiny (Byrne, 2002). Eccles (2005) highlights seven primary features of self-concept--it is organized, multifaceted, hierarchical, stable, developmental, evaluative and differentiable. In the current paper, academic self-concept is defined as an individual’s perception of self-efficacy in academic subjects (Bong & Skaalvik, 2003; DiPerna & Elliott, 1999; MacMillan, Gresham & Bocian, 1998; Snow et al., 1996).

The terms self-concept and self-esteem are frequently (and incorrectly) used interchangeably (Ehrlich &DeBruhl, 1996). The cognitive or descriptive component of self-concept (“I’m good at math”) differs from the affective or evaluative self- esteem component (“I feel good about how I do my math”), with the latter emphasizing self-worth and self-respect (Snow et al., 1996). Thus, global self-worth or self-esteem is a distinct component of self-concept (Bear, Minke, Manning, & George, 2002). The literature on self-concept is voluminous and is beyond the scope of the current paper (see Byrne, 2002; Bong & Skaalvik, 2003; and Skaalvik & Skaalvik, 2002 for recent reviews). One important finding from the research literature is the significant role that different “frames of reference” play in the development of academic self- concept (Byrne, 2002; Skaalvik &Skaalvik, 2002). External frames of reference include comparisons with school/class averages or other learners. An internal frames of reference includes comparisons with the self in different academic domains at a given time, comparisons with self in the same academic domain across time, and comparisons to self-generated goals and aspirations (Byrne, 2002; Skaalvik & Skaalvik, 2002)

Academic Self-Concept: Implications

A review of the voluminous self-concept and self-esteem literature (Bong & Skaalvik, 2003; Bornholt &Goodnow, 1999b; Byrne, 2002; Cosden & McNamara, 1997; deCharms, 1968; DiPerna & Elliott, 1999; Dusek, 2000; Gresham, 1988; Guay, Marsh, & Boivin, 2003; Harter, 1990; Kaplan & Lin, 2000; Martin, Marsh, & Debus, 2003; Nurmi, Aunola, SalmelaAro, & Lindroos, 2003; Skaalvik & Skaalvik, 2002; Vaughn et al., 2001) suggests the following implications:

Self-concept is related to many other developmental accomplishments. For example, the affective component of self-concept (i.e., self-esteem) has been empirically associated with positive social development, ethnic identity development, positive peer and parent interactions and relationships, insulation against the development of a deviant identity and delinquent behaviors, less anxiety and depression, and greater satisfaction with life.

Although the size and direction of the relationships (as well as the measurements and methods used in the research studies) have sometimes been argued and criticized, in general, academic self-concept has been consistently linked to positive academic outcomes. This finding is not surprising given that the high value placed on academic competence by society typically results in positive academic competence feelings for learners who are successful in their academic endeavors.

These positive academic affective self-evaluations are believed to influence future academic motivation. Part of the disagreement with the self-concept research findings stems from the use of different “achievement” indicators. Academic self-concept is more consistently correlated with grades and less consistently correlated with test scores. It has been hypothesized that academic self-concept exerts more influence on grades (vs test scores) as grades are believed to be more influenced by motivation and volition (Snow, et al., 1996).

An important finding (across a diverse range of students—gifted and talented; disadvantaged; students with learning disabilities or mild intellectual disabilities) regarding the development of academic self-concept is the big-fish-little-pond effect. According to the big-fish-little-pond effect, “learners compare their own academic ability with that of their peers and then use this social comparison impression as one basis for the formation of their academic self-concept” (Byrne, 2002, p. 901). The big-fish-little- pond effect occurs when students compare their personal academic performance/ability with that of their peers (an external frame of reference). For example, “a negative big-fish-little-pond effect is evidenced when learners of equal ability exhibit lower academic self-concepts after comparing themselves with more able learners, albeit they exhibit higher academic self- concepts following comparison with less able learners. The big-fish-little-pond effect exemplifies external frame of reference effects and, as a consequence, lends itself well to academic environments that involve selective school placement or choice” (Byrne, 2002, p. 901). Social comparison theory is the basis for the big-fish-little-pond effect. Social comparison theory suggests that students in educational settings where the average reference group is higher in ability, often experience a decrease in academic self-concept. According to social comparison theory, this decrement in academic self-concept occurs as the less capable students (e.g., students with disabilities) judge themselves as less capable than their more competent peers.

The developmental trajectory of self-concept tends to mirror that described previously for self-efficacy. In general, young children initially develop very positive self-concepts that tend to be biased (inflated) when compared to external reference indicators. With increasing age, self-concept becomes more differentiated (i.e., multidimensional), reality- based, less positive, and more aligned with external indicators and sources of evaluation (e.g., adult evaluations of performance). Disagreement exists on the causal mechanisms of the developmental changes in academic self-concept and the resulting appropriate interventions. Research has suggested that the development of positive and healthy academic self-concepts can result from early interventions that either focus on fostering young children’s academic self-beliefs (self-enhancement methods) or interventions focused on developing academic skills (skill enhancement methods). See Guay et al. (2003) for a recent treatment of academic self-concept early intervention literature.

The reaction of significant adults (teachers and parents) to a learner can have a positive or negative impact on the development of academic self-concept. Research has demonstrated that individuals tend to perceive themselves as they are perceived by others. The reflected perceptions and appraisals of significant others play an important role in the development of a student’s academic self-concept.

Students with learning disabilities frequently (and spontaneously) compare themselves to their non-disabled peers, and as a result, often suffer negative decrements in academic self- concept. Although the research findings have, at times, been inconsistent regarding global self-concept and self-esteem, the evidence is relatively clear that students with learning disabilities, as a group, display decreases in academic self-concept over time. Interestingly, some studies have reported that students with learning disabilities may compare themselves favorably to their peers in the intellectual ability domain, but not the academic abilities domain. These findings suggest that students with learning disabilities may make relatively accurate self-evaluations of their personal strengths and weaknesses.

Some research reviews have estimated that students with learning disabilities, in general, display academic self-concepts approximately 1.3 standard deviations lower than students without disabilities. In addition, research suggests that academic self- concept may vary as a function of the specific education setting of the student with a learning disability. For example, “studies have tended to show that children with LD who receive special education services in either segregated (i.e., self-contained) or mainstreamed (i.e., resource) settings have more favorable general self-concepts and self-perceptions of academics than children with LD in regular classrooms who receive no special education or remedial services” (Bear, Minke, & Manning, 2002, p. 406). This latter finding, however, as well as other findings synthesized in integrative reviews, has not been consistently replicated. Clearly, some students with learning disabilities (and most likely students with other forms of disabilities that adversely affect school performance) pay a high emotional and social price for their poor achievement (Gresham, 1988). Further evidence for the price paid for low achievement is the finding that samples of college students with learning disabilities (who likely represent some of the higher functioning and more motivated portions of the learning disability population at this age range) report lower academic self- concepts when compared to their university peers. See Bear et al. (2002) for a recent meta-analysis of research studies on the self- concepts of students with learning disabilities and a discussion of prior research synthesis and the various methodological issues bearing on the inconsistencies reported across reviews.

The adverse impact of repeated academic failure can threaten a student’s academic self- concept and general self-worth. As a result, a student may develop a need to protect both their private and public sense of perceived academic competence or self- worth from failure. The need for self-worth protection can result in the development of maladaptive defensive strategies that include defensive pessimism (e.g., maintaining unrealistically low expectations for success, discounting the importance of success), self-handicapping (creating an impediment that serves as an excuse for possible failure—e.g., procrastination, poor health), and self-worth protection (a general approach of not expending effort so that failure can be attributed to ambiguous causes rather than personal inadequacies). As is the case with most defensive coping strategies, there may be an immediate near-term protection of feelings of self-esteem and self-concept. However, research indicates that the adoption and repeated use of failure-avoidant defensive protective strategies can produce poor and inconsistent long-term achievement, lower academic interest and motivation, negative affective consequences (e.g., increased anxiety, decreased life satisfaction), and less self-regulated learning. It has been suggested that defensive failure- avoidant strategies may be most prevalent in competitive (vs cooperative) learning environments. See Covington (2000), Martin et al. (2003), and Nurmi et al. (2003) for a contemporary overview of the defensive strategy research literature.

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People prefer round performance numbers and will strive to achieve them

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Saturday, September 24, 2011

Dissertation Dish: Can pitch or rhythm (Ga-auditory processing) training improve phonological awareness (Ga)

The effectiveness of Separate Pitch and Rhythm Training Interventions on the Phonological Awareness of Kindergarten Learners by Richards, Susannah Converse, Ed.D., Northcentral University, 2011 , 171 pages; AAT 3472255


Although neuroscientists assert that music training impacts neural development, previous research has not teased apart which components of music possibly enhance language literacy in emergent readers. The purpose of this quantitative research study was to establish if immersion in pitch activities as compared with rhythm activities could cause the significant development of initial sound (IS) skills, letter sounds (LS) skills, and sound pattern skills in kindergarten readers. This study examined the effectiveness of supplemental music instruction on the phonological awareness skills of kindergarten learners ( N = 38) who originated from seven classrooms in one suburban elementary school. Leveled subjects randomly were assigned to an experimental pitch group ( n = 12), or an experimental rhythm group ( n = 11), or a control group ( n = 15). During sixteen 40-minute sessions that spanned eight weeks, pitch group subjects explored the highness and lowness of sound, while rhythm group subjects investigated the duration of sound. The control group engaged in 20-minute weekly read-aloud sessions. Pre- and post-test data collection consisted of the kindergarten version of the Test of Phonological Awareness - Second Edition: Plus , and the sound patterns music subtest of the Woodcock Johnson III . Data was converted to Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) for analysis. Separate 3 x 3 factorial Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) revealed the levels differed on each of the IS variables (pitch [ F =7.74; df = 3], rhythm [ F = .07; df = 3], control [ F = .18; df = 2]); and the LS variables (low pitch [ F = 1.0; df = 3], low rhythm [ F = 6.62; df = 3], low control [ F = 4.0; df = 2]). Significance was observed with a matched-pairs t -test with the low pitch treatment group ( t [3] = 0.034, p < 0.04). Future research should recruit a larger sample and utilize a different music assessment. This study provides insight into a real-world application relative to specific components of music that potentially enhance the phonological awareness of the most challenged of kindergarten readers before remediation is necessary.

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Thursday, September 22, 2011

More on brain growth into our 20's@TheNeuroScience, 9/22/11 8:02 PM

Neuro Science (@TheNeuroScience)
9/22/11 8:02 PM
Brain wiring discovery at the UofA

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Psychological Methods

One of my favorite methodology journals......although I often find I can't read many of the more technical articles filled with equations, matrices, etc.  Good reading for serious quantoids.

Psychological Methods®

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Psychological Methods® is devoted to the development and dissemination of methods for collecting, analyzing, understanding, and interpreting psychological data. The journal presents articles on innovations in research design, measurement, methodology, and quantitative and qualitative analysis. Its further purpose is to promote effective communication about related substantive and methodological issues to the psychological community.

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New Children's Psychological Processing Scale (CPPS) available this fall

I am pleased to announce, on behalf of Dr. Milt Dehn, the soon to be published on-line (web-based) Children's Psychological Processing Scale (CPPS). Briefly, this is a nationally standardized (n=1,121) scale where teachers rate students (ages 5 thru 12) on 121 Rasch-scaled rating scale items divided into 11 psychological processing domains.

A flyer describing the scale can be found here. Click here for a link to the website. The estimated date of availability is December 1, 2011. I have been informed that the on-line purchase option is not yet functional, but they are taking pre-orders by phone.

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Conflict of interest disclosure: I, Kevin McGrew, have a financial (royalty) interest in the CPPS. I served as the measurement quantoid for the instrument and completed all the Rasch IRT item and scale calibration analysis, calculated the norms, and completed all the reliability and validity analyses.

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IAP AP101 Brief # 10: Understanding IQ score differences: Examiner Errors

Why do significant differences in IQ scores often occur between different tests or the same test given at different times? The explanations are many. Previous IAP Applied Psychometric 101 Reports and Briefs have touched on a number of reasons. Click here to view or link to these reports.

In the first AP101 report, which I would recommend reading prior to reading the material below, test administration and or scoring errors (examiner errors) were mentioned as a possible reason for score discrepancies. The brief report below addresses this topic.

Test procedural and administration errors (examiner error)

Despite rigorous graduate training in standardized administration of intelligence tests for most psychologists, the extant research on adherence to standardized administration and scoring procedures has consistently reported (unfortunately) that the frequency of examiner errors occurs with enough regularity, for both novice and experienced psychological examiners, to be a concern.

Ramos, Alfonso and Schermerhorn (2009) summarized the extant research on examiner errors and reported that most research studies reported sufficient average examiner error to produce significant changes in IQ scores for individuals. The most frequent types of errors reported included a failure to record responses, use of incorrect basal and ceiling rules, reporting an incorrect global IQ score, incorrect adding of subtest scores, incorrect assignment of points for specific items, and incorrect calculation of the individuals age. On Wechsler-related studies, Ramos et al.'s review found that studies have reported average error rates from 7.8 to 25.8 errors per test record, almost 90% of examiners making one error, and in one study 2/3 of the test records reviewed resulted in a change in the Full Scale IQ. Examiner errors do not appear instrument specific as Ramos et al’s reported an average error rate of 4.63 errors per test record on the WJ III Tests of Cognitive Abilities.

The importance of verifying accurate administration and scoring is evident in the finding that across experienced psychologists and students in graduate training, ranges of score differences were as high as 25, 22, and 11 points respectively for the WAIS-III Verbal, Performance and Full Scale IQ scores (Ryan & Schnakenberg-Ott, 2003). Despite examiners reporting confidence in their scoring accuracy, Ryan and Schnakenberg-Ott reported average levels of agreement with the standard (accurate) test record of only 26.3% (Verbal IQ), 36.8 % (Performance IQ), and 42.1 % (Full Scale IQ).

This level of examiner error is alarming, particularly in the context of important decision-making (e.g., IQ score-based life-and-death Atkins MR/ID decisions; eligibility for intervention programs; eligibility for social security disability funds). The level of examiner experience does not appear to be an explanatory variable. More recently, when investigating a single subtest (WISC-IV Vocabulary), Erodi, Richard and Hopwood (2009) reported that more errors may be present when evaluating low and high ability subjects.

Numerous test development and professional training and monitoring recommendations have been suggested (see Erodi et al, 2009; Hopwood & Richard, 2005; Kuentzel et al. 2011; Ramos et al., 2009; Ryad & Schnakenberg-Ott, 2003), some that have empirically demonstrated improvement in accuracy (see Kuentzel, Hetterscheidt &Barnett, 2011).

Examiner test administration and scoring errors can be the reason for discrepant IQ-IQ score differences. It is clear that before attempting to interpret any IQ scores, or trying to reconcile IQ-IQ score differences between tests, the first step would be for all examiners to double check their scoring. Another wise step would be to seek independent review of a scored test record by another experienced examiner. In the case of Atkins decisions, attempts should be made to secure copies of the original IQ test records for independent review. If any clear errors are present, they should be corrected and new scores recalculated. Only then should psychologists proceed to draw conclusions about the consistency or differences between scores from different IQ tests or versions of the same test given at different times during an individual’s life-span.

Any intelligence test results used in an Atkin’s hearings must be subject to independent review of the original test protocol (this may be impossible for old historical testing results) to insure against administration or scoring errors that might result in significant differences in the reported IQ score. This is critically important in Atkin’s cases were the courts often use a strict specific-IQ “bright line” cut score to determine the presence of an intellectual disability.

Below are the abstracts from the primary sources for this brief report. Double click on the images to enlarge.

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