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IJMR Publishes Amrita Paper

November 7, 2012 - 2:55
IJMR Publishes Amrita Paper

An Amrita journal paper titled Cross-Cultural Standardization of the South Texas Assessment of Neurocognition in India was recently published in the Indian Journal of Medical Research (IJMR).

The paper authored by Dr. Sandhya Cherkil, Assistant Professor of the Department of Clinical Psychology at the Amrita School of Medicine was the result of an international collaborative study.

This study undertaken by the Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences, India; Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College, London and Olin Neuropsychiatry Research Center, Institute of Living, Yale University School of Medicine, USA, sought to understand the role played by genes in causing mental illness.

Dr. Sandhya elaborated on the study performed.

“Though research has consistently pointed to the role of genes as a strong causative factor in mental illness, it could never come up with a single gene that might be causing mental illness. However, work in this area did throw up an interesting finding, that it is possible to study certain discrete measurable traits linked to specific genes.”

“It was further found that abnormal performance on measures of cognitive functioning such as memory and attention was found in mentally ill persons and also in their close relatives, who are not sick. Currently, much emphasis is placed on these cognitive endophenotypes as they are called, in terms of their contribution to pathophysiological processes, underpinning disease expression, and in relation to treatment and functional outcomes.”

“Though this viewpoint and subsequent cognitive assessments have gained importance in the West, in India, it is yet to be recognized by clinical psychologists. It is for closing this gap, that I participated in the cross-cultural comparability study of the South Texas Assessment of Neurocognition (STAN).”

The South Texas Assessment of Neurocognition (STAN) is a 90-minute battery of standard and experimen-tal neuropsychological tests, mostly computerized.

Dr. Sandhya sought to investigate whether these tests would work in the Indian cultural setting also.

In particular, she worked with STAN’s JAva NEuropsychological Test (JANET), which enables psychiatric and genetics research.

“My study examined the applicability of using cognitive tests from the Java Neuropsychological Test (JA-NET), in India. Instead of the whole battery of test, only six tests were chosen since these tests are not based on language, and are exemplars for assessing key cognitive functions.”

“Overall test performance of the Indian sample was comparable to that of the US sample and commensurate to that generally described in studies from western countries. Hence, it was rendered as a tool fit to be used in Indian settings, with the metric equivalence now being established.”

November 7, 2012
School of Medicine, Kochi

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