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Cambridge Neuropsychological Test Automated Battery (CANTAB): a factor analytic study of a large sample of normal elderly volunteers.



The CANTAB battery was administered to a large group (n = 787) of elderly volunteers in the age range from 55 to 80 years. This battery, which is based on tests used to identify the neural substrates of learning and memory in non-human primates, has now been extensively used in the assessment of various forms of dementia and also validated on patients with neurosurgical lesions of the frontal and temporal lobes. The tests employed were pattern and spatial recognition, simultaneous and delayed matching to sample, learning of visuospatial paired associates, a matching to sample, reaction time task and a test of spatial working memory. The sample was banded into different IQ bands based on performance on 5 standard tests of intelligence. The MMSE was also administered to exclude cases of possible dementia (n = 16) in the normal sample. In general, performance declined with age and IQ, but these factors did not interact. A factor analysis (with varimax rotation) identified 4 factors with eigenvalues greater than 1, which accounted for over 60% of the variance. Factor 1 was equated with general learning and memory ability and loaded significantly with the Intelligence scores; factor 2 was related to speed of responding and loaded most heavily with Age. Comparisons were also made of performance on CANTAB of those subjects with dementing scores on the MMSE and the lowest 5th percentile of the population sample. The results are discussed in terms of the utility of the CANTAB battery for the assessment of dementia and of the implications for theories of changes in cognitive function during normal aging.

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