Effects of prior testing lasting a full year in NCANDA adolescents: Contributions from age, sex, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, site, family history of alcohol or drug abuse, and baseline performance.


Journal Article

Longitudinal study provides a robust method for tracking developmental trajectories. Yet inherent problems of retesting pose challenges in distinguishing biological developmental change from prior testing experience. We examined factors potentially influencing change scores on 16 neuropsychological test composites over 1year in 568 adolescents in the National Consortium on Alcohol and NeuroDevelopment in Adolescence (NCANDA) project. The twice-minus-once-tested method revealed that performance gain was mainly attributable to testing experience (practice) with little contribution from predicted developmental effects. Group mean practice slopes for 13 composites indicated that 60% to ∼100% variance was attributable to test experience; General Ability accuracy showed the least practice effect (29%). Lower baseline performance, especially in younger participants, was a strong predictor of greater gain. Contributions from age, sex, ethnicity, examination site, socioeconomic status, or family history of alcohol/substance abuse were nil to small, even where statistically significant. Recognizing that a substantial proportion of change in longitudinal testing, even over 1-year, is attributable to testing experience indicates caution against assuming that performance gain observed during periods of maturation necessarily reflects development. Estimates of testing experience, a form of learning, may be a relevant metric for detecting interim influences, such as alcohol use or traumatic episodes, on behavior.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Sullivan, EV; Brumback, T; Tapert, SF; Prouty, D; Fama, R; Thompson, WK; Brown, SA; Cummins, K; Colrain, IM; Baker, FC; Clark, DB; Chung, T; De Bellis, MD; Hooper, SR; Nagel, BJ; Nichols, BN; Chu, W; Kwon, D; Pohl, KM; Pfefferbaum, A

Published Date

  • April 2017

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 24 /

Start / End Page

  • 72 - 83

PubMed ID

  • 28214667

Pubmed Central ID

  • 28214667

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1878-9307

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/j.dcn.2017.01.003


  • eng

Conference Location

  • Netherlands