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Michelle Nuño, PhD reflects on CTAD 2021

Cognitive assessments are a crucial part of Alzheimer’s disease studies as these help track cognitive decline; however, these assessments may be subject to a practice effect, an improvement in scores due to familiarity with the assessment. Practice effects can mask cognitive decline, so it is important to understand whether these exist in commonly used assessments. At this year’s Clinical Trials on Alzheimer’s Disease (CTAD) conference in Boston, Michelle Nuño in the labs of Drs. Joshua Grill and Daniel Gillen, presented the group’s work investigating whether the letter fluency test, a commonly used assessment, is subject to a practice effect. Through a randomized experiment, the group showed that the letter fluency test is subject to a practice effect, and that the effect differs by both prior exposure to the assessment and by the degree of cognitive impairment. Additional work is needed to determine whether other cognitive assessments are subject to a practice effect.