Dr. David Hessl, project PI at the University of California at Davis, and site PI’s Dr. Karen Riley, Dean and Professor at the Morgridge College of Education, University of Denver, Dr. Elisabeth Berry-Kravis at Rush University, Drs. Richard Gershon and Aaron Kaat at Northwestern University, and Dr. Craig Erickson from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital were awarded the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute Of Child Health & Human Development of the National Institutes of Health grant of $3,921,088. Dr. Jeanine Coleman Associate Clinical Professor in the Teaching and Learning Sciences department at the Morgridge College of Education, is co-principal investigator. Drs. Korrie Allen, Douglas Clements and Julie Sarama will also be engaged in the project at the DU site. The grant will span five years, October 2020 – September 2025.
A multi-university team has been evaluating the utility and sensitivity of the National Institutes of Health Toolbox – Cognitive Battery (NIHTB-CB). Standardized cognitive and educational assessments of individuals with intellectual disability (ID) provide crucial information for parents, researchers, and educators. Understanding the unique developmental strengths and challenges of an individual with ID is imperative to determining appropriate educational placements, developing intervention plans, and measuring growth. Unfortunately, there is a paucity of research regarding administrative procedures that yield valid standardized assessment results with this population, which this project serves to rectify.
In addition to evaluating the NIHTB-CB as an appropriate assessment for ID in general, the results demonstrate the sensitivity of the battery to known syndrome-specific cognitive phenotypes. A critical remaining question is the degree to which the battery is sensitive to change, especially to effects of intervention as such the team is currently collecting longitudinal data on all participants so that they can create typical trajectories and so that change can accurately be measured. Studies of the performance of the battery in older adults with ID are needed, especially focusing on those experiencing cognitive decline or dementia. Overall, the present validation study represents an important step toward providing an objective, scalable, and standardized method for successfully measuring cognition and tracking cognitive changes in ID. This award is the second for this team of researchers and extends the initial study.
Dr. Riley said “The importance of this type of research cannot be overstated. We need to have effective tools to measure the groundbreaking interventions that are currently being developed and implemented. The individuals with ID deserve our best work in this area, as it could literally be life changing for them and their families.”