Optimizing cross-sectional prediction of social functioning in youth referred for neuropsychological testing

Matthew D. Lerner, Lauren M. Potthoff, Scott J. Hunter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The current study aimed to establish a fine-grained, efficient characterization of the concurrent neuropsychological contributions to social functioning in neuropsychologically-referred youth. A secondary aim was to demonstrate a useful statistic approach for such investigations (Partial Least Squares Regression; PLSR), which is underutilized in this field. Fortyfive participants (70 - 164 months; Mage = 110.89; 34 male) were recruited from a large neuropsychological assessment clinic. Participants completed subtests from the NEPSY-II focusing on neuropsychological constructs that have been linked to social functioning (affect decoding, social memory, motor skills, visuomotor skills, response inhibition, attention and set-shifting, and verbal comprehension). Mothers completed the BASC-2, from which Atypicality and Social Skills scales were analyzed. PLSR revealed that difficulty with social memory, sensorimotor integration, and the ability to attend to and accurately discriminate auditory stimuli combine to best predict atypical or "odd" behavior. In terms of social skills, two factors emerged. The first factor indicated that, counterintuitively, greater emotional perception, visuospatial perception, ability to attend to and accurately discriminate auditory stimuli, and understand instructions was related to poorer social skills. The second factor indicated that a pattern of better facial memory, and sensorimotor ability (execution & integration) characterized a distinct profile of greater social ability. PLSR results were compared to traditional OLS and Backwards Stepwise regression approaches to demonstrate utility. Results also suggested that these findings were consistent across age, gender, and diagnostic group, indicating common neuropsychological substrates of social functioning in this sample of referred youth. Overall, this study provides the first characterization of optimized combinations of neuropsychological variables in predicting social functioning in assessment clinic-referred youth, and introduces to this literature a valuable statistical approach for obtaining such characterizations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0128303
JournalPloS one
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 26 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • General
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology


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