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Four-Year Longitudinal Performance of a Population-Based Sample of Healthy Children on a Neuropsychological Battery: The NIH MRI Study of Normal Brain Development

  • Deborah P. Waber (a1), Peter W. Forbes (a2), C. Robert Almli (a3) and Emily A. Blood (a2) (a4)

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Study of Normal Brain Development is a landmark study in which structural and metabolic brain development and behavior are followed longitudinally from birth to young adulthood in a population-based sample of healthy children. Cross-sectional findings from the neuropsychological test battery have been previously described (Waber et al., 2007). The present report details 4-year longitudinal neuropsychological outcomes for those children who were aged 6 to 18 years at baseline (N = 383), of whom 219 (57.2%) completed all 3 visits. Primary observations were (1) individual children displayed considerable variation in scores across visits on the same measures; (2) income-related differences were more prominent in the longitudinal than in the cross-sectional data; (3) no association between cognitive and behavioral measures and body mass index; and (4) several measures showed practice effects, despite the 2-year interval between visits. These data offer an unparalleled opportunity to observe normative performance and change over time on a set of standard and commonly used neuropsychological measures in a population-based sample of healthy children. They thus provide important background for the use and interpretation of these instruments in both research settings and clinical practice. (JINS, 2012, 18, 179–190)

Corresponding author
Correspondence and reprint requests to: Deborah P. Waber, Department of Psychiatry, Children's Hospital Boston, 300 Longwood Avenue, Boston, Massachusetts 02115. E-mail:
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Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society
  • ISSN: 1355-6177
  • EISSN: 1469-7661
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-the-international-neuropsychological-society
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