For this study, the researchers wanted to know how age impacted scores on cognitive testing. The researchers used athletes from 6 different high schools through 4 years. The researchers looked at repeat testing of baselines over these four years.
The researchers found that as the students advanced in age their scores on the neuropsychological testing improved. The researchers found just looking at everyone’s baseline that as participants advanced in age they did better with psychomotor speed, executive functioning, cognitive flexibility and reaction time. However, the researchers did not that age did not correspond to verbal and visual memory. When the researchers looked at participants with more than one baseline they found that there were improvements in cognitive flexibility, executive functioning, reaction time and psychomotor speed. Finally, the researchers also noted that they found males showing greater improvements over time in executive functioning, cognitive flexibility, and psychomotor speed.
These results demonstrate to an extent that there are changes that happen in a person’s brain over time and that they should be re-tested for their baseline. However, the researchers did not that the CNS vital signs testing software has only been validated in adults which could have contributed to the variations in the scores of the participants. Moreover, multiple studies have shown similar results across various computerized cognitive testing platforms that changes from year to year occur in high school and college aged athletes occur. Furthermore, this study had a very skewed sample of males versus female participants with 78% male and 28% female representation. This large of a skew towards male representation could have been due to the representation of males as noted in previous research on adolescents posted on this website. However, this study could still prove valuable to the growing body of research that suggests that annual baseline testing of athletes can contribute to a greater understanding of concussion and cognitive functioning in athletes.
You can find this research article in full here.