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      High-throughput cognitive assessment using BrainTest.org: examining cognitive control in a family cohort

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          Abstract

          Introduction Understanding the relationship between brain and complex latent behavioral constructs like cognitive control will require an inordinate amount of data. Internet-based methods can rapidly and efficiently refine behavioral measures in very large samples that are needed for genetics and behavioral research. Cognitive control is a multifactorial latent construct that is considered to be an endophenotype in numerous neuropsychiatric disorders, including attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). While previous studies have demonstrated high correlations between Web- and lab-based scores, skepticism remains for its broad implementation. Methods Here, we promote a different approach by characterizing a completely Web-recruited and tested community family sample on measures of cognitive control. We examine the prevalence of attention deficit symptoms in an online community sample of adolescents, demonstrate familial correlations in cognitive control measures, and use construct validation techniques to validate our high-throughput assessment approach. Results A total of 1214 participants performed Web-based tests of cognitive control with over 200 parent–child pairs analyzed as part of the primary study aims. The data show a wide range of “subclinical” symptomatology in a web community sample of adolescents that supports a dimensional view of attention and also provide preliminary narrow-sense heritability estimates for commonly used working memory and response inhibition tests. Conclusions Finally, we show strong face and construct validity for these measures of cognitive control that generally exceeds the evidence required of new lab-based measures. We discuss these results and how broad implementation of this platform may allow us to uncover important brain–behavior relationships quickly and efficiently.

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          Most cited references 37

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          An integrative theory of prefrontal cortex function.

          The prefrontal cortex has long been suspected to play an important role in cognitive control, in the ability to orchestrate thought and action in accordance with internal goals. Its neural basis, however, has remained a mystery. Here, we propose that cognitive control stems from the active maintenance of patterns of activity in the prefrontal cortex that represent goals and the means to achieve them. They provide bias signals to other brain structures whose net effect is to guide the flow of activity along neural pathways that establish the proper mappings between inputs, internal states, and outputs needed to perform a given task. We review neurophysiological, neurobiological, neuroimaging, and computational studies that support this theory and discuss its implications as well as further issues to be addressed
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            False-positive psychology: undisclosed flexibility in data collection and analysis allows presenting anything as significant.

            In this article, we accomplish two things. First, we show that despite empirical psychologists' nominal endorsement of a low rate of false-positive findings (≤ .05), flexibility in data collection, analysis, and reporting dramatically increases actual false-positive rates. In many cases, a researcher is more likely to falsely find evidence that an effect exists than to correctly find evidence that it does not. We present computer simulations and a pair of actual experiments that demonstrate how unacceptably easy it is to accumulate (and report) statistically significant evidence for a false hypothesis. Second, we suggest a simple, low-cost, and straightforwardly effective disclosure-based solution to this problem. The solution involves six concrete requirements for authors and four guidelines for reviewers, all of which impose a minimal burden on the publication process.
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              The endophenotype concept in psychiatry: etymology and strategic intentions.

              Endophenotypes, measurable components unseen by the unaided eye along the pathway between disease and distal genotype, have emerged as an important concept in the study of complex neuropsychiatric diseases. An endophenotype may be neurophysiological, biochemical, endocrinological, neuroanatomical, cognitive, or neuropsychological (including configured self-report data) in nature. Endophenotypes represent simpler clues to genetic underpinnings than the disease syndrome itself, promoting the view that psychiatric diagnoses can be decomposed or deconstructed, which can result in more straightforward-and successful-genetic analysis. However, to be most useful, endophenotypes for psychiatric disorders must meet certain criteria, including association with a candidate gene or gene region, heritability that is inferred from relative risk for the disorder in relatives, and disease association parameters. In addition to furthering genetic analysis, endophenotypes can clarify classification and diagnosis and foster the development of animal models. The authors discuss the etymology and strategy behind the use of endophenotypes in neuropsychiatric research and, more generally, in research on other diseases with complex genetics.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Brain Behav
                Brain Behav
                brb3
                Brain and Behavior
                Blackwell Publishing Inc
                2162-3279
                2162-3279
                September 2013
                02 August 2013
                : 3
                : 5
                : 552-561
                Affiliations
                Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior Brain Research Institute David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California Los Angeles, California
                Author notes
                Fred W. Sabb, Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, Brain Research Institute, David Geffen School of Medicine, 760 Westwood Blvd, C9-402, Los Angeles, CA 90095. Tel: 310-844-6458; Fax: 310-825-8525; E-mail: mailto: fsabb@ 123456mednet.ucla.edu

                Funding Information This study was supported by UCLA ADHD Center for Intervention Development Applied Research: Treatment Research Enhancing Cognitive Control (PI: McCracken); MH091669 EUREKA R01 (PI: F. W. S.) and NARSAD Young Investigator Award (F. W. S.).

                Article
                10.1002/brb3.158
                3869983
                © 2013 The Authors. Brain and Behavior published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

                Re-use of this article is permitted in accordance with the Creative Commons Deed, Attribution 2.5, which does not permit commercial exploitation.

                Categories
                Original Research

                Neurosciences

                www, cognitive control, symptoms, spatial working memory, inattention

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