College of Psychology Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

2016

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PhD)

Department

College of Psychology

First Advisor

Charles Golden

Second Advisor

Edward Simco

Third Advisor

Barry Schneider

Keywords

Acculturation, Neuropsychology assessment, Spanish/English bilinguals, Test development

Abstract

This study examined the underlying factor structure of the Nova Multilingual Neuropsychological Battery (NMNB) and evaluated the influence of demographic variables such as language fluency and acculturation on test performance. The NMNB is a comprehensive test designed to measure cognitive abilities in Spanish/English bilinguals. The instrument was developed taking into consideration cultural variables believed to influence neuropsychological test performance and it includes a Spanish and an English version. It is comprised of tasks measuring abilities such as short and long term memory, executive functioning, motor skills, visuo-spatial abilities, arithmetic, and vocabulary. The study included 155 participants (71 English monolinguals and 84 Spanish/English bilinguals). Forty-six participants from the bilingual group were tested in English and 37 were tested in Spanish. Participants were normal adults between 18 and 60 years of age who were primarily recruited from a university setting. They also completed a demographic questionnaire that included a measure of acculturation. An exploratory factor analysis was used to test the hypothesis that the subtests from NMNB would load onto five factors including language, perceptual reasoning, memory, executive functioning and psychomotor abilities. Results from four different retention models did not match the hypothesized factor structure, yet they allowed the identification of specific cognitive domains within the factors. These cognitive domains include memory, learning, executive functioning, perceptual reasoning, reading ability, and psychomotor skills. Verbal memory and learning were factors consistently identified across the retention methods. The moderation effects of language fluency and level of acculturation on test performance were examined. It was hypothesized that language fluency, as defined by performance on the Categorical Fluency subtest, on tasks measuring language abilities. It was also hypothesized that level of acculturation would moderate the performance on measures of executive functioning and perceptual reasoning abilities. These hypotheses were based on the alleged pattern of advantages and disadvantages observed in bilingual individuals according to current research studies. Results from regression analyses showed no mediation effects of language fluency and level of acculturation on test performance. Data from this study did not show the purported pattern of disadvantages of bilingualism on language abilities neither demonstrated advantages in areas such as executive functioning and working memory. Overall, the findings did not support the hypotheses of the study However, the results allowed the analyses of the utility of the instrument in the assessment of specific cognitive abilities as well as the need for developing appropriate measures for this population. Furthermore, the findings put into perspective the importance of formal and objective assessment of language abilities and level of acculturation. This study represents a significant contribution to the empirical knowledge regarding neuropsychological assessment of individuals of Hispanic backgrounds. As such, it adds to the scarce literature on this topic. Further examination of the psychometric properties of the NMNB is warranted. Future research should include a larger sample including Spanish monolinguals, older adults as well as individuals with different levels of educational attainment.

  Link to NovaCat

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