March 7, 2019 by Sanne Franzen
At the annual meeting of the International Neuropsychological Society, prof. Yana Suchy gave an interesting workshop about the assessment of executive functions. In my opinion, the most remarkable part of her workshop was her elaboration on the concept of ecological validity with regard to the assessment of executive functioning. She mentioned two different aspects that are relevant to ecological validity: veridicality (whether the test can predict outcomes in daily life) and verisimilitude (whether the test’s demands correspond to the demands of activities in daily life). She described how it isn’t always necessary to develop an executive functioning test that resembles the activities of daily life at first glance. An example she mentioned to support this claim is how the often-used Trail Making Test is a good predictor of driving abilities, even though the procedures of driving a car and completing a Trail Making Test seem quite dissimilar. Furthermore, dr. Suchy’s Push-Turn-Taptap test – a test that mildly resembles the tests used in lab research with mice – was equally able to predict medication adherence as the Pillbox Test, a test specifically designed to mimic daily life. Interesting perspective!