Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Name

Clinical Psychology

Department or School/College

Department of Psychology

Committee Chair

Stuart Hall

Commitee Members

Craig McFarland, Allen Szalda-Petree, Greg Machek, Annie Sondag


Aging, Neurological disease, Processing speed, The Alphaback


University of Montana


Processing speed is a sensitive indicator of normal aging, as well as neurological impairment. Despite the importance of assessing this cognitive domain in neuropsychological assessments, few tests of processing speed are available. The purpose of the current study was to establish the operating characteristics, as well as the convergent and divergent validity of a novel processing speed test, the Alphaback, on a healthy college student population (N = 91). The Alphaback is a 2 min computerized task in which examinees must orally state the alphabetical letter that precedes the letter presented on a screen as fast as possible. Cognitive tests included as measures of convergent and divergent validity included WAIS-IV Coding, WAIS-IV Symbol Search, WASI-2 FSIQ-2, WASI-2 Vocabulary, COWA, CTOPP-2 Rapid Naming, Beery VMI, and WASI-2 Matrix Reasoning. Correlation analyses revealed significant correlations between total correct scores on the Alphaback and WAIS-IV Coding (r = .32, p < .01), WAIS-IV Symbol Search (r = .21, p < .05), COWA (r = .28, p < .01), and WASI-2 Matrix Reasoning (r = .21, p < .05). The Alphaback was also rated the least likable (equal to WASI-2 Vocabulary) and the most difficult compared to other cognitive tests. The findings strongly suggest that the Alphaback is a test of processing speed, establishing the convergent validity of the test. With further validation, the Alphaback may be a new test of processing speed that clinical neuropsychologists can use to assess processing speed deficits in a wide variety of clinical populations.



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