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Self-Reported Cognitive Symptoms in Military Veteran College Students

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An increasing number of military veterans are enrolling in college, primarily due to the Post-9/11 GI Bill, which provides educational benefits to veterans who served on active duty since September 11, 2001. With rigorous training, active combat situations, and exposure

An increasing number of military veterans are enrolling in college, primarily due to the Post-9/11 GI Bill, which provides educational benefits to veterans who served on active duty since September 11, 2001. With rigorous training, active combat situations, and exposure to unexpected situations, the veteran population is at a higher risk for traumatic brain injury (TBI), Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and depression. All of these conditions are associated with cognitive consequences, including attention deficits, working memory problems, and episodic memory impairments. Some conditions, particularly mild TBI, are not diagnosed or treated until long after the injury when the person realizes they have cognitive difficulties. Even mild cognitive problems can hinder learning in an academic setting, but there is little data on the frequency and severity of cognitive deficits in veteran college students. The current study examines self-reported cognitive symptoms in veteran students compared to civilian students and how those symptoms relate to service-related conditions. A better understanding of the pattern of self-reported symptoms will help researchers and clinicians determine the veterans who are at higher risk for cognitive and academic difficulties.

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2016-05

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Service-related conditions and higher-order cognitive processing in military veteran college students

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Military veterans have a significantly higher incidence of mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI), depression, and Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) compared to civilians. Military veterans also represent a rapidly growing subgroup of college students, due in part to the robust and

Military veterans have a significantly higher incidence of mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI), depression, and Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) compared to civilians. Military veterans also represent a rapidly growing subgroup of college students, due in part to the robust and financially incentivizing educational benefits under the Post-9/11 GI Bill. The overlapping cognitively impacting symptoms of service-related conditions combined with the underreporting of mTBI and psychiatric-related conditions, make accurate assessment of cognitive performance in military veterans challenging. Recent research findings provide conflicting information on cognitive performance patterns in military veterans. The purpose of this study was to determine whether service-related conditions and self-assessments predict performance on complex working memory and executive function tasks for military veteran college students. Sixty-one military veteran college students attending classes at Arizona State University campuses completed clinical neuropsychological tasks and experimental working memory and executive function tasks. The results revealed that a history of mTBI significantly predicted poorer performance in the areas of verbal working memory and decision-making. Depression significantly predicted poorer performance in executive function related to serial updating. In contrast, the commonly used clinical neuropsychological tasks were not sensitive service-related conditions including mTBI, PTSD, and depression. The differing performance patterns observed between the clinical tasks and the more complex experimental tasks support that researchers and clinicians should use tests that sufficiently tax verbal working memory and executive function when evaluating the subtle, higher-order cognitive deficits associated with mTBI and depression.

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Date Created
2017

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Cognitive-communication Abilities in Bilinguals with a History of Mild Traumatic Brain Injury

Description

Mild TBI (mTBI) has been associated with subtle executive function (EF) and

cognitive-communication deficits. In bilinguals, there are unique cognitive demands required to control and process two languages effectively. Surprisingly, little is known about the impact of mTBI on EF, communication,

Mild TBI (mTBI) has been associated with subtle executive function (EF) and

cognitive-communication deficits. In bilinguals, there are unique cognitive demands required to control and process two languages effectively. Surprisingly, little is known about the impact of mTBI on EF, communication, and language control in bilinguals. Therefore, the aim of this study was to examine the cognitive-communication abilities in bilinguals with a history of mTBI, identify any language control impairments, and explore the relationship between these language control impairments and domain-general cognitive control abilities. To this end, three-hundred and twenty-seven monolingual and bilingual college students with and without mTBI history participated in two experiments. In these experiments, EF, communication, and language control were examined using experimental and clinical tasks as well as self-rating scales. In Experiment 1, there was an interaction between mTBI history and language group (monolinguals vs. bilinguals) in how participants performed on a clinical measure of EF and a verbal fluency task. That is, only bilinguals with mTBI scored significantly lower on these tasks. In addition, there was a significant correlation between errors on a language switching task and performance on non-verbal EF tasks. In Experiment 2, a subgroup of bilinguals with persistent cognitive and behavioral symptoms reported greater everyday communication challenges in their first and second languages. Also, unbalanced bilinguals reported greater EF difficulties than monolinguals and balanced bilinguals regardless of mTBI history. In conclusion, bilinguals may face unique cognitive-communication challenges after mTBI. Factors related to the bilingual experience (e.g., language balance, daily language use) should be

considered in clinical evaluation and future research.

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2020