Brain, Biology and Behavior, Center for


Date of this Version


Document Type



Published in Archives of Clinical Neuropsychology, 2017. doi: 10.1093/arclin/acx071


Copyright © 2017 Kathryn L. Higgins, Todd Caze, & Arthur Maerlender. Published by Oxford University Press. Used by permission.


Objective — The Immediate Postconcussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing (ImPACT) is a computerized neuropsychological test battery commonly used to determine cognitive recovery from concussion based on comparing post-injury scores to baseline scores. This model is based on the premise that ImPACT baseline test scores are a valid and reliable measure of optimal cognitive function at baseline. Growing evidence suggests that this premise may not be accurate and a large contributor to invalid and unreliable baseline test scores may be the protocol and environment in which baseline tests are administered. This study examined the effects of a standardized environment and administration protocol on the reliability and performance validity of athletes’ baseline test scores on ImPACT by comparing scores obtained in two different group-testing settings.

Method — Three hundred-sixty one Division 1 cohort-matched collegiate athletes’ baseline data were assessed using a variety of indicators of potential performance invalidity; internal reliability was also examined.

Results — Thirty-one to thirty-nine percent of the baseline cases had at least one indicator of low performance validity, but there were no significant differences in validity indicators based on environment in which the testing was conducted. Internal consistency reliability scores were in the acceptable to good range, with no significant differences between administration conditions.

Conclusions — These results suggest that athletes may be reliably performing at levels lower than their best effort would produce.