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The Paired Associates Learning (PAL) Test: 30 Years of CANTAB Translational Neuroscience from Laboratory to Bedside in Dementia Research

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Translational Neuropsychopharmacology

Abstract

The origins and rationale of the Cambridge Neuropsychological Test Automated Battery (CANTAB) as a cross-species translational instrument suitable for use in human neuropsychopharmacological studies are reviewed. We focus on its use for the early assessment and detection of Alzheimer’s disease, in particular the Paired Associates Learning (PAL) test. We consider its psychometric properties, neural validation, and utility, including studies on large samples of healthy volunteers, patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), and Alzheimer’s disease. We demonstrate how it can be applied in cross-species studies using experimental animals to bridge the cross-species translational ‘gap’. We also show how the CANTAB PAL has bridged a second translational ‘gap’ through its application to the early detection of memory problems in primary care clinics, using iPad technology.

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Declaration of Interest and Acknowledgements

JHB is an employee of and ADB a director of Cambridge Cognition, the company that develops and markets the CANTAB cognitive testing system. JB, AB, and BJS own shares and/or share options in Cambridge Cognition. BJS consults for Cambridge Cognition, Peak, Otsuka, Lundbeck, and Servier, holds a grant from Janssen/J&J, and owns shares in CeNeS. TWR consults for Cambridge Cognition, Eli Lilly, Shire, Lundbeck, Teva, Otsuka, and Chempartners. He holds grants from Lilly, Lundbeck, and GSK and receives royalties from Cambridge Cognition for CANTAB.

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Barnett, J.H., Blackwell, A.D., Sahakian, B.J., Robbins, T.W. (2015). The Paired Associates Learning (PAL) Test: 30 Years of CANTAB Translational Neuroscience from Laboratory to Bedside in Dementia Research. In: Robbins, T.W., Sahakian, B.J. (eds) Translational Neuropsychopharmacology. Current Topics in Behavioral Neurosciences, vol 28. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/7854_2015_5001

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