Cognitive domain harmonization and cocalibration in studies of older adults

Neuropsychology. 2023 May;37(4):409-423. doi: 10.1037/neu0000835. Epub 2022 Aug 4.


Objective: Studies use different instruments to measure cognitirating cognitive tests permit direct comparisons of individuals across studies and pooling data for joint analyses.

Method: We began our legacy item bank with data from the Adult Changes in Thought study (n = 5,546), the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (n = 3,016), the Rush Memory and Aging Project (n = 2,163), and the Religious on such as the Mini-Mental State Examination, the Alzheimer's Disease Assessment Scale-Cognitive Subscale, the Wechsler Memory Scale, and the Boston Naming Test. CocalibOrders Study (n = 1,456). Our workflow begins with categorizing items administered in each study as indicators of memory, executive functioning, language, visuospatial functioning, or none of these domains. We use confirmatory factor analysis models with data from the most recent visit on the pooled sample across these four studies for cocalibration and derive item parameters for all items. Using these item parameters, we then estimate factor scores along with corresponding standard errors for each domain for each study. We added additional studies to our pipeline as available and focused on thorough consideration of candidate anchor items with identical content and administration methods across studies.

Results: Prestatistical harmonization steps such qualitative and quantitative assessment of granular cognitive items and evaluating factor structure are important steps when trying to cocalibrate cognitive scores across studies. We have cocalibrated cognitive data and derived scores for four domains for 76,723 individuals across 10 studies.

Conclusions: We have implemented a large-scale effort to harmonize and cocalibrate cognitive domain scores across multiple studies of cognitive aging. Scores on the same metric facilitate meta-analyses of cognitive outcomes across studies or the joint analysis of individual data across studies. Our systematic approach allows for cocalibration of additional studies as they become available and our growing item bank enables robust investigation of cognition in the context of aging and dementia. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2023 APA, all rights reserved).

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Alzheimer Disease* / psychology
  • Cognition
  • Cognition Disorders* / psychology
  • Cognitive Dysfunction*
  • Executive Function
  • Humans
  • Neuropsychological Tests