Empirical methods for assessing meaningful neuropsychological change following epilepsy surgery

J Int Neuropsychol Soc. 1996 Nov;2(6):556-64. doi: 10.1017/s1355617700001739.


Traditional methods for assessing the neurocognitive effects of epilepsy surgery are confounded by practice effects, test-retest reliability issues, and regression to the mean. This study employs 2 methods for assessing individual change that allow direct comparison of changes across both individuals and test measures. Fifty-one medically intractable epilepsy patients completed a comprehensive neuropsychological battery twice, approximately 8 months apart, prior to any invasive monitoring or surgical intervention. First, a Reliable Change (RC) index score was computed for each test score to take into account the reliability of that measure, and a cutoff score was empirically derived to establish the limits of statistically reliable change. These indices were subsequently adjusted for expected practice effects. The second approach used a regression technique to establish "change norms" along a common metric that models both expected practice effects and regression to the mean. The RC index scores provide the clinician with a statistical means of determining whether a patient's retest performance is "significantly" changed from baseline. The regression norms for change allow the clinician to evaluate the magnitude of a given patient's change on 1 or more variables along a common metric that takes into account the reliability and stability of each test measure. Case data illustrate how these methods provide an empirically grounded means for evaluating neurocognitive outcomes following medical interventions such as epilepsy surgery.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Epilepsies, Partial / psychology
  • Epilepsies, Partial / surgery*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neuropsychological Tests / statistics & numerical data*
  • Postoperative Complications / psychology*
  • Psychometrics
  • Psychosurgery / psychology*
  • Reproducibility of Results