Title: Predictors of virtual radial arm maze performance in adolescent Italian children.
Authors: Braun, Joe M; Lucchini, Roberto; Bellinger, David C; Hoffman, Elaine; Nazzaro, Marco; Smith, Donald R; Wright, Robert O
Published In Neurotoxicology, (2012 Oct)
Abstract: Comparisons between animal and human neurotoxicology studies are a foundation of risk assessment, but are hindered by differences in measured behaviors. The radial arm maze (RAM), a rodent visuospatial learning and memory task, has a computerized version for use in children, which may help improve comparisons between animal and human studies.To describe the characteristics and correlates of the virtual radial arm maze (VRAM) in 255 children age 10-15 years from Italy.We administered the VRAM using a laptop computer and measured children's performance using the latency, distance, and working/reference memory errors during eight trials. Using generalized linear mixed models, we described VRAM performance in relation to demographic factors, child activities, and several standard neuropsychologic tests (Italian translations), including the Conners Parent Rating Scales-Short Version (CPRS), California Verbal Learning Test (CVLT), Wechsler Intelligence Scales for Children, finger tapping speed, reaction time, and motor skills.Children's VRAM performance tended to improve between trials 1 and 6 and then plateaued between trials 6 and 8. Males finished the task 14 s faster (95% confidence interval [CI]: -20, -9) than females. Children who played 2+h of video games per day finished 16 s faster (CI: -26, -6) and with 34% (CI: 5, 54%) fewer working memory errors than children who reported not playing video games. Higher IQ and better CVLT scores were associated with better VRAM performance. Higher cognitive/inattention CPRS scores were associated with more working (11%; CI: 1, 22) and reference memory errors (7%; CI: 1, 12).Consistent with animal studies, VRAM performance improved over the course of test trials and males performed better than females. Better VRAM performance was related to higher IQ, fewer inattentive behaviors, and better verbal memory. The VRAM may help to improve the integration and comparison between animal and epidemiological studies of environmental neurotoxicants.
PubMed ID: 22771383
MeSH Terms: Adolescent; Child; Child Behavior/physiology*; Female; Humans; Italy; Male; Maze Learning/physiology*; Neuropsychological Tests; Predictive Value of Tests; Psychometrics; Psychomotor Performance/physiology; Reaction Time/physiology; Recreation/physiology; User-Computer Interface*