Clinical Validation of Selected NIH Cognitive Toolbox Tasks in Pediatric Epilepsy

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Epilepsy & behavior : E&B






Cognition; Flanker; NIH Toolbox; Pattern comparison; Processing speed


The NIH Toolbox Cognition Battery (NIHTB-CB) is designed to assess cognitive functioning across the lifespan. We aimed to evaluate the clinical validity of two NIHTB-CB tasks as cognitive screening tools in pediatric epilepsy by comparing them to standard neuropsychological measures and their association with epilepsy characteristics. Forty-seven patients with epilepsy ages 5-18, including ten repeat evaluations, were assessed. Correlational analyses and agreement statistics were conducted to validate NIHTB-CB tasks (Flanker Inhibitory Control and Attention test (Flanker) and Pattern Comparison Processing Speed test (Pattern Comparison)) with standard clinical measures. We also examined if performance was related to epilepsy characteristics, including polytherapy, age of seizure onset, seizure type, and history of Electrical Status Epilepticus in Sleep (ESES). The NIHTB-CB tests had moderate to strong correlations with neuropsychological measures of executive functioning, processing speed, and intelligence. Agreement statistics indicated better sensitivity than specificity. Polytherapy and later age of seizure onset were associated with lower performance on Pattern Comparison. ESES patients did not significantly differ in performance on the tests compared to non-ESES patients. Pilot data from a subset of repeated measures indicated a good range of change scores. These two NIHTB tasks are feasible as a screening tool in a clinic given their correlation with clinical measures that assess executive function, processing speed, and IQ. This study supports the use of these tasks as brief, easily accessible screener tools to identify cognitive dysfunction in domains commonly impacted in patients with epilepsy and potential use for monitoring over time.


Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences