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FINAL REPORT: Validation of Test Methods for Assessing Neurodevelopment in Children1

Conclusion

This investigation proposed to determine the capacity of a battery of neurodevelopmental tests in detecting the true anticipated subtle effects of children’s exposure to low dosages of developmental neurotoxicants. This aim was achieved by designing a comprehensive battery of tests and tasks yielding 63 endpoints that measured child neurodevelopment across a range of developmental domains. Over one third of these measures proved to possess the capacity to detect pre-diagnosed lowered IQ, presence of LD or neonatal risk with at least 70% sensitivity and specificity. Some tests were differentially sensitive and specific, depending upon the presence or absence of one or more of several covarying factors, such as gender, age, hearing status, or familiarity with computers. In determining the final battery, we culled tests that were limited by being affected by too many such factors. The most promising of the measures we considered formed a part of the CANTAB, which has the added advantage of being administered by computer, eliminating typical complications encountered in administering paper and pencil tests. An important strength of this study was its use of a reference population with pre-diagnosed conditions that reflect neurodevelopment compromises generally expected in children exposed to low doses of some neurotoxicants. Follow up studies are needed both to package the final battery, shown in Table 20, and to confirm its performance in detecting expected risk following actual neurotoxic exposures.

Human Subjects

The protocols and consent form for the proposed study have been reviewed and approved by the University of Rochester’s Research Subjects Review Board. The children are not at any health risk during testing which is in the form of standard neuropsychological tests or of games with rewards for performance. Recruitment and Consent documents are included in Appendix 2.

Investigation Team

Table 21 shows the team of investigators responsible for the conduct of the study. Biosketches are included in Appendix 1.

Table 21
Study Team
Investigator Department Role
Philip W. Davidson, Ph.D. Pediatrics PI
Bernard Weiss, Ph.D. Environmental Medicine Co-PI, Sensory-Motor Tasks
Deborah Cory-Slechta, Ph.D. Rutgers University CANTAB, FI, Choice
David Loiselle, Ph.D. Neurology Electrophysiology
Mark Orlando, Ph.D. Otolaryngology Auditory Functions
Edna Young, Ph.D. Otolaryngology Auditory Processing
Gary J. Myers, M.D. Neurology Subject Recruitment and Classification
Jean Reeves, M.S. Pediatrics Research Technician
Randall Pittelli, B.S. Private Consultant Programming
Geoffry Inglis, B.S. Environmental Medicine Programming
Doug Weston, B.S. Environmental Medicine Research Technician

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