CANTAB battery: Proposed utility in neurotoxicology

  • Fray P
  • Robbins T
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The CANTAB battery was developed for the assessment of cognitive deficits in humans with neurodegenerative diseases or brain damage. It consists of a series of interrelated computerized tests of memory, attention, and executive function, administered via a touch-sensitive screen. It allows a decomposition of complex tasks commonly used in clinical assessment into their cognitive components and enables the extrapolation of findings from the animal literature. Tests include versions of the Wisconsin Card-Sorting Test and the Tower of London and also the Delayed Matching-to-Sample test, widely used in monkeys for visual recognition memory. The tests are constructed in such a way that they may be given to animals (monkeys) with minimal change. The nonverbal nature of the CANTAB tests makes them largely language independent and culture free. CANTAB has been standardized on a large, predominantly elderly, population and validated in neurosurgical patients as well as in patients with basal ganglia disorders, Alzheimer's disease, depression; and schizophrenia. In addition, CANTAB has been used to evaluate: a) the therapeutic effects of dopaminergic and cholinergic medication in neurodegenerative disease; b) cognition in 5-11-year-old normal, learning-disabled, and autistic children; c) deficits in patients with HIV infection; and d) early, asymptomatic Huntington's disease. The latter illustrate its usefulness in early identification of progressive disorders. It is suggested that the battery should have particular utility across a wide range of age and intelligence in longitudinal assessment after exposure to toxicants, and allow meaningful comparison with experimental studies of toxic effects in other species.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Attention
  • Computerized cognitive test battery
  • Executive function
  • Memory
  • Neurodegenerative diseases

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  • P. J. Fray

  • T. W. Robbins

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