Disorders in executive functions (EFs) are arguably the sequelae of acquired brain injury (ABI) that have the most substantive negative impact on everyday life. This is because EFs serve a superordinate role in behavioral and cognitive processing that enables people “to be effective in the real-world, to adapt to new situations, and to pursue life goals in a constructive and productive manner” (Burgess & Simons, 2005). When EFs are impaired, attaining even a seemingly simple goal such as purchasing a new pair of shoes at the mall, is overwhelming due to the numerous decisions required and the lack of predictability of the environment (e.g., a sale at a clothing store of interest, running into a friend one has not seen for some time etc.).
Historically, the assessment of EFs has occurred in controlled environments using highly structured tasks. While these tests provide some insight into underlying cognitive impairments, they explain only a modest amount of the variability seen in the performance of complex everyday activities (Burgess et al., 2006) and provide limited insight into the day-to-day functioning and struggles of the individual. It follows that they have limited use for clinicians designing interventions to address these difficulties.
The Multiple Errands Test (MET) is a naturalistic, performance-based assessment that was designed to address these difficulties. Until recently, using the MET required the development of site-specific versions thus limiting its suitability for clinicians and researchers (e.g., Dawson et al., 2009). This symposium introduces two standardized versions of the MET: the MET-Home and the Big-Store MET. Both have demonstrated validity and reliability and will greatly increase access by a wide number of users.
The first talk of the symposium will introduce the MET, provide the rationale for its development, and an overview of how it has been used and studied to date thus setting the stage for the rest of the symposium.
The second presentation introduces the MET-Home, a recently developed version of the MET, designed for use in a wide variety of home environments (Burns et al., In press). Data from ABI and stroke populations will be presented including performance scores, sensitivity and specificity for discriminating healthy adults from those with neurological pathology and variations in strategy use between these two populations.
The third presentation introduces the Big-Store MET, developed for use in large department stores commonly found world-wide. In addition to presenting this new version of the MET, this talk provides normative data on healthy adult controls and preliminary data on the sensitivity and specificity for those with ABI.
The symposium concludes with a discussion for future directions for further development and standardization of the MET including a standardized scoring system which can be used with all versions of the test.