College of Psychology Theses and Dissertations

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Date of Award

1-1-2010

Document Type

Dissertation - NSU Access Only

Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PhD)

Department

Center for Psychological Studies

First Advisor

Charles Golden

Second Advisor

Christian DeLucia

Third Advisor

Barry Schneider

Keywords

Category Test, executive functioning, Quotient, Stroop Test, Trail Making Test, WCST

Abstract

This study examined the utility of the Trail Making Test Quotient (Trails B/ Trails A) in assessing executive functioning relative to that of common tests of executive function such as the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test, Category Test, and the Stroop Test. The purpose of the current study was to investigate the relationship of the Trail Making Test Quotient (Trails B/ Trails A) with other common tests of executive functioning (i.e., Wisconsin Card Sorting Test, Stroop, Category Test) to determine whether these tests are measuring similar domains of functioning or whether Trail Making Test Quotient (Trails B/ Trails A) offers a more pure measure of executive functioning over and beyond that of Trail Making Test B alone or the difference score, Trail Making Test (Trails B- Trails A).

A series of partial correlations were conducted involving the Trail Making Test scores (Quotient, Difference, and B [Raw]), and the scores of the executive functioning measures (Wisconsin Card Sorting Test, Category Test, and Stroop), controlling for age, education, and gender. Trails Quotient, Trails B Raw, and Trails Difference were found to significantly negatively correlate with WCST Total # of Categories. Only Trails B Raw and Trails Difference were found to significantly positively correlate with WCST Perseverative Responses and Category Error. None of the Trail Making Test measures used in this study were found to significantly correlate Stroop Interference. Correlation coefficients were compared to determine the strength of Trails Quotient's relationship with

the aforementioned executive functioning measures relative to that of Trails Difference and Trails B Raw.

Contrary to the hypotheses of the current study, the Trails Quotient demonstrated a significantly weaker correlation with WCST Total # of Categories, WCST Perseverative Responses, and Category Error than that of Trails Difference and Trails B Raw. Additionally, there were no significant differences in the correlation coefficients of Trails Quotient, Trails Difference, and Trails B Raw with Stroop Interference. However, upon further investigation using exploratory factor analyses, it was discovered that Trails Quotient may have represented a particular component of executive functioning more so than the Trails Difference and Trails B Raw. The results suggest that Trails Quotient offers a unique estimate of executive skill specific to cognitive organization, whereas Trails B Raw and Trails Difference represent multiple executive domains including regulatory and organizational abilities.

Clinical practice will benefit from the current study's findings in that assessment of complex executive functioning will be more precise. Future research is needed to determine the utility of the Trails Quotient in identifying specific types and locations of brain injury. Assessment of specific impaired frontal skills common to degenerative dementias and traumatic brain injury may be possible with the use of Trails Quotient contingent upon further research. Future research into the domains of executive functioning and the Trail Making Test should focus on specific skills within regulatory and organizational components, and the development of normative data for Trails Quotient.

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