Standardized Measures of Cognition vs. Laboratory Tasks
Over the last several decades, research on clinical nutrition has focused on the effects of macronutrients and micronutrients on cognitive and brain development. The evaluation and interpretation of the effects of nutrition on developmental cognitive and brain outcomes is critically dependent on the proper conceptualization of human cognitive development, and on the use of appropriate and valid measures of that construct. However, for many studies in this area, the choice of measures of cognitive development is not guided by any theory of measurement or the hypothesized effect of the nutrient; rather, such choices tend to be based on convenience (e.g., availability, ease of administration) or familiarity with a particular measure. This practice is potentially disadvantageous for the interpretation of studies in the field: Studies may choose assessments of cognition which may either obscure the specific effects of a particular nutrient, or miss such specific effects altogether because the appropriate domain was not assessed. In developmental studies, the complexity of the choice of cognitive outcomes is compounded by the consideration of age-appropriate assessments and domains. This session will describe problems in choosing and interpreting cognitive assessments for this field and make recommendations for best practices in addressing this issue.