Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


College of Psychology

First Advisor

Ashley Stripling

Second Advisor

David Loewenstein

Third Advisor

Stephen Campbell


Alzheimer's disease, neuropsychology, psychology


The U.S. population is currently undergoing a major demographic transition, with increasing racial and ethnic diversity of the older adult population. As the growing population of older adults advances in age, memory complaints are projected to increase in prevalence particularly among African Americans and present a challenge to clinicians who must differentiate between normal aging and progressive neurocognitive conditions (Celsis, 2000; Sherwin, 2000). As targeted therapeutic interventions and emerging therapies for AD are much more likely to be effective in the earlier stages of the disease (Loewenstein, Curiel, Duara & Buschke, 2017), early assessment and detection of AD, especially in groups more likely to develop the disorder, such as African Americans, has become increasingly important. As such, the current study examined the performance of African Americans, both cognitively normal and those with amnestic-mild cognitive impairment (aMCI), on a novel cognitive stress test, the Loewenstein-Acevedo Scale of Semantic Interference and Learning (LASSI-L) and found that those with aMCI exhibit more impairment in their initial learning and storage of information and suffer from proactive semantic interference due to their inability to inhibit responses. Additionally, this study found that the LASSI-L serves as a better predictor of diagnostic group classification compared to traditional neuropsychological measures. Taken together these findings suggest that the LASSI-L is a highly promising test for the assessment of mild cognitive impairment among African American older adults, which will hopefully guide prevention and treatment planning within this underserved population.

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