Abstract

The focus of the discipline of neuropsychology is shifting towards a greater emphasis on understanding the relationship between assessment results and performance of everyday tasks (ecological validity). To date, the literature has highlighted the importance of this concept in the assessment of patients with brain injury or disease (e.g. in rehabilitation and forensic settings). This paper presents the argument that there is another important area in which the ecological validity of neuropsychological assessments should be considered: in clinical outcomes studies using neurologically intact participants. For example, determining the extent to which a medical procedure or intervention affects performance of everyday cognitive tasks can provide useful information that can potentially guide decision-making regarding treatment options. It is argued that tests designed with ecological validity in mind (the verisimilitude approach), as opposed to traditional tests, may be most effective at predicting everyday functioning. Explanations are proposed as to why researchers may be reluctant to use tests with verisimilitude in favor of more traditional measures.