EXAMINING THE VALIDITY OF AN AFFECTIVE VERBAL LEARNING TEST IN A COLLEGE ATHLETE SAMPLE

Open Access
Author:
Yacovelli, Michael Robert
Area of Honors:
Psychology
Degree:
Bachelor of Science
Document Type:
Thesis
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Peter Andrew Arnett, Thesis Supervisor
  • Jeanette Cleveland, Honors Advisor
Keywords:
  • Affective
  • verbal learning
  • validity
  • concussion
Abstract:
Concussion is a form of mild traumatic brain injury (TBI) that is prevalent in the college athlete population. Research has demonstrated that verbal memory tests are sensitive to concussion and that concussion may lead to transient changes in affect as well. This study was designed to measure the validity of the Affective Verbal Memory Test (AVLT) as an indicator of both verbal memory and affective state. The AVLT was administered to 237 non-injured college athletes at baseline, as part of a neuropsychological test battery. The AVLT is a verbal list-learning task, in which 15 affectively-loaded words are presented aurally. Immediate and delayed recall were assessed. The HVLT-R, RBMT, ImPACT Verbal Memory Composite, VIGIL, Stroop Test, and BDI-Fast Screen were consulted to establish convergent and discriminant validity. Analyses revealed that the AVLT immediate and delayed recall indices exhibited medium to large correlations with indices of verbal learning (ranging from r=.24, p<.001 for the RBMT story memory test to r=.51, p<.001 for the ImPACT Verbal Memory Composite), and non-significant to medium correlations with tests of attention (ranging from r=.03, p=.63 for the PSU Cancellation Task to r=.24, p<.001 for the Vigil). The AVLT immediate and delayed affective bias ratings exhibited small to medium correlations with athletes’ rating of motivation (r=.18, p<.005) and anhedonia (r=-.21, p<.005). These results suggest the AVLT is a valid measure of verbal memory, and a promising indicator of emotional state. A measure that can provide information about both cognitive and affective consequences of head-injury would prove useful in analyzing the severity of a concussion and the recovery progress of an athlete.