Some of the first steps taken towards cross-cultural neuropsychology as we know it today were made by researchers like Luria and Vygotsky, travelling across the globe to examine the ways of thinking of people living in isolated communities (such as nomadic tribes). Although research methods weren’t perfect, these studies already gave a hint about the cross-cultural variations that were yet to be discovered. One of the most scientifically prolific pioneers in this field of study was Alfredo Ardila (born in Colombia in 1946). He has propelled the scientific study of cross-cultural differences in neuropsychological performance, from his publication ‘Towards a Cross-Cultural Neuropsychology (1996)’ onwards, writing about subjects such as culture, (il)literacy and the effect of language on test performance.
Recent years have shown a trend of increasing global migration. In this highly diverse world, the incidence rates of dementia have been rising, particularly in lower and middle income countries, leading to interesting challenges for the field of cross-cultural neuropsychology. In the Netherlands – as well as in other countries in northwestern Europe – the first generation of labor immigrants from countries such as Turkey and Morocco are aging rapidly. With a higher prevalence of risk factors for dementia, an increase is expected in the number of dementia patients with a diverse background visiting memory clinics in the next decade(s). In the Netherlands, this increase will mainly be visible in large cities such as Amsterdam, the Hague and Rotterdam.
My work, as well as the work by many others in the Netherlands and abroad, is ultimately aimed at giving all patients an equal chance of receiving the right diagnosis, by improving the neuropsychological tests we use to assess dementia. Between 2017-2021, we worked towards this aim through the TULIPA study, about which you can read more here. We have worked on the development, adaptation and/or validation of several neuropsychological instruments that are suitable for our patient population in the multicultural memory clinic., such as a modified version of the Visual Association Test (mVAT), the Naming Assessment in Multicultural Europe (NAME) and a Dutch version of the Rowland Universal Dementia Assessment Scale (RUDAS). These works are included in my PhD dissertation. In addition, we work closely with colleagues from across the globe, such as through the European Consortium for Cross-Cultural Neuropsychology (ECCroN) and with our Turkish colleagues at the Hacettepe University Medical Center in Ankara, Turkey.
We are interested in working closely with fellow researchers across the globe to reach our ambitious goal of providing fair neuropsychological assessment and care to diverse patients with cognitive complaints. So, if you feel you have some interesting ideas or suggestions, feel free to contact me and my team through our Contact Form !