Speed of processing and executive functions in adults with phenylketonuria: quick in finding the word, but not the ladybird

Cristina Romani, Anita MacDonald, Sara de Felice, Liana Palermo*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

A reduction in processing speed is widely reported in phenylketonuria (PKU), possibly due to white matter pathology. We investigated possible deficits and their relationships with executive functions in a sample of 37 early-treated adults with PKU (AwPKUs). AwPKUs were not characterized by a generalized speed deficit, but instead their performance could be explained by two more specific impairments: (a) a deficit in the allocation of visuo-spatial attention that reduced speed in visual search tasks, in some reading conditions and visuo-motor coordination tasks; and (b) a more conservative decision mechanism that slowed down returning an answer across domains. These results suggest that the impairments in executive functions seen in AwPKUs are not the consequence of a generalized speed deficit. They also suggest that processing speed is linked to the efficiency of a particular cognitive component and cannot be considered a general function spanning domains. Similarities with patterns in ageing are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCognitive Neuropsychology
Volumein press
Early online date20 Jun 2017
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 20 Jun 2017

Bibliographical note

This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Cognitive Neuropsychology on 20/6/17, available online: http://www.tandfonline.com/10.1080/02643294.2017.1320278

Keywords

  • ageing
  • executive functions
  • feature vs. conjunction search
  • Phenylketonuria
  • serial vs. parallel search
  • speed of processing

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