Thursday, November 28, 2019

Ethnic adjustment abuses in forensic assessment of intellectual abilities. - PsycNET

Within the past few years, courts have been more open to accepting evidence of psychological research. For instance, in 2002, the United States Supreme Court, citing an American Psychological Association (APA) Amicus brief, declared that the execution of mentally retarded individuals was unconstitutional because it violated the Eighth Amendment prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. Between 2005 and 2012, the Supreme Court accepted APA briefs describing the limitations in neural development of adolescents and its relevance to sentencing. In 2013, the Court ruled that in assessing an individual's intelligence there must be a consideration of the standard error of measurement. All of this suggested a progressive movement in judicial recognition of psychological research. However, during the same time, many courts were allowing and accepting testimony in capital sentencing cases of so-called ethnic adjustment. Some psychologists were testifying that defendants who were from ethnic minority groups had IQ scores that were suppressed and that therefore their scores had to be "adjusted" upward to compensate for the suppression. However, these adjustments were based purely on clinical judgment and did not reflect any empirical studies. As a result, several of these individuals who had their IQ scores adjusted have been executed. This article will describe the case law surrounding this concept, ethical issues that it raises, and how a practitioner can provide useful consultation to attorneys who represent defendants in such cases. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Evaluating the Relation Between CHC Cognitive Factors and Selected Components of Executive Functioning | SpringerLink

Executive functioning remains an elusive paradigm in regard to their underlying constructs. The Cattell-Horn-Carroll (CHC) theory of cognitive functions is the predominant theory of the measurement of human intelligence in psychology in regard to test construction and interpretation. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the relations between components of the Tower Test and Color-Word Interference Test from the Delis-Kaplan Executive Function System (D-KEFS) and CHC theory, as measured by the Woodcock-Johnson III Tests of Cognitive Abilities (WJ-III-COG). Participants were 64 undergraduate students (women, n = 38; men, n = 26), with a mean age of 19.88 years. Results of a Structured Equation Model indicated a correlation between the two factors modeled for Intelligence and Executive functioning was estimated to be 0.575 (0.331), and was statistically significant (p < .001), with a 95% credible interval of (0.551, 0.599). Thus, approximately 33% of the variance for measures of Intelligence was accounted for by measures of Executive Functioning; the biggest CHC contributor was Numbers Reversed which argues for the importance of attention and working memory being an important component of executive functioning. The results suggest that despite a relation between some components of executive function and cognitive ability, much variance between the D-KEFS and WJ-III-COG remains unaccounted for. These findings have implications for evaluation and intervention planning within vocational and educational settings.


Neuropsychology Neuropsychological assessment Executive functioning Intelligence CHC 

Thursday, November 07, 2019

Individual differences in learning efficiency

Kathleen B. McDermott and Christopher L. Zerr


Most research on long-term memory uses an experimental approach whereby participants are assigned to different conditions, and condition means are the measures of interest. This approach has demonstrated repeatedly that conditions that slow the rate of learning tend to improve later retention. A neglected question is whether aggregate findings at the level of the group (i.e., slower learning tends to improve retention) translate to the level of individual people. We identify a discrepancy whereby—across people—slower learning tends to coincide with poorer memory. The positive relation between learning rate (speed of learning) and retention (amount remembered after a delay) across people is referred to as learning efficiency. A more efficient learner can acquire information faster and remember more of it over time. We discuss potential characteristics of efficient learners and consider future directions for research.

Keywords learning efficiency, individual differences, memory, learning rate, retention

A few select quotes below.  Dr. Joel Schneider and I have written elsewhere that we believe that attentional control (AC; a key mechanism of working memory or Gwm) is a key cognitive mechanism in learning and cognitive functioning.

Learning strategy differences:  Faster learners generate more mediators while learning, and these mediators tend to be both implemented earlier in the learning process and more effective in aiding memory 

Prior knowledge:  However, prior knowledge (or crystallized intelligence) may still promote integration of new information into existing knowledge and improve the efficacy of learning strategies—the more knowledge someone possesses, the richer the set of potential mediators.

Attentional control:  People who are better able to focus their attention are less susceptible to interfering information; further, they more quickly search long-term memory when retrieving information (Unsworth & Spillers, 2010). Neuroimaging evidence suggests that the ability to control one's attention is a potential driver of efficient learning.