Journal of Neuropsychology

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Volume 10 Issue 1 (March 2016), Pages 1-162

Age differences in cognitive performance: A study of cultural differences in Historical Context (pages 104-115)

Ethnicity and cultural experience can affect neuropsychological performance, but they are rarely assessed in historical context. Attention measures are considered strongly biologically determined and therefore potentially culture‐fair. In this study, we assessed the cross‐cultural equivalence of Spanish and English versions of the Trail Making Test (TMT; Reitan, 1958, Perceptual and Motor Skills, 8, 271–276) and the Brief Test of Attention (BTA; Schretlen et al., 1996, The Clinical Neuropsychologist, 10, 80–89) in two large samples of Americans (N = 203) and Spaniards (N = 213), divided into younger and older subgroups. The older Spaniards lived under Franco's political regime (1936–1975), whereas the Americans never experienced such repression. Overall, TMT performance was culture‐sensitive, whereas BTA performance was not. However, when both groups were stratified by age, cultural differences in TMT performance were restricted to older participants, suggesting that historical experience across generations might have contributed to the observed differences in cognitive performance. Even such basic cognitive processes as attention, working memory, and resource sharing might be shaped to some degree by historical experiences that contribute to cultural differences.

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