Early environmental factors, ethnicity, and adult cognitive test performance

Desiree A. Byrd, S. Walden Miller, Judy Reilly, Shirley Weber, Tamara L. Wall, Robert K. Heaton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


This study was conducted to better understand cross-cultural variation in neuropsychological test performance by exploring the relationship between early environmental factors and adult neuropsychological functioning in African Americans (AA) and Caucasians (CA). Cognitive testing data and detailed retrospective early environmental histories were obtained from 100 neurologically healthy adults (75 AA, 25 CA). Results indicate that: (a) consistent with previous research, the two ethnic groups differed significantly on their cognitive test performance; (b) early environmental factors were significantly related to performance on cognitive tests; (c) the two ethnic groups demonstrated slight, but significant, differences in their early environmental histories; but (d) covarying early environmental factors did not substantially reduce the group performance in cognitive test performance. The failure of reported environmental factors to account for more of the ethnic disparity in test performance may have resulted from the inherent weakness of the retrospective assessment method (i.e., lack of precision or objectivity in participants' recollections of their early environments). These results highlight the remaining need for ethnicity specific normative data until cross-cultural variation in neuropsychological test performance is better understood.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)243-260
Number of pages18
JournalClinical Neuropsychologist
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2006
Externally publishedYes


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