The Contributing Role of Processing Speed and Attention Span on Learning Efficiency in a Cohort of Clinically Referred Female Cancer Survivors

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Objective: Although forgetfulness is a common complaint of cancer survivors, previous analysis of neurocognitive assessments within this population revealed absent memory deficits with impairment in attention and possible processing speed contributions (Root et al., 2015). Therefore, analyzing speed of information processing and capacity for attention were important for understanding cognitive complaints within this population. Method: The Processing Speed Index (PSI) from the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale–Fourth Edition (WAIS-IV), as well as Attention Span, Learning Efficiency, and Delayed Recall from the California Verbal Learning Test–Second Edition (CVLT-II) were analyzed in 60 clinically-referred female cancer survivors, aged 29-79 (M = 53.77, SD = 11.26) with self-reported cognitive complaints. First, a measurement model with four constructs measured by 13 indicators were tested using a confirmatory factor analysis (CFA), after which a structural equation model (SEM) based on the CFA model was conducted to determine what degree Processing Speed, Attention Span, and Delayed Recall relate to Learning Efficiency. Results: As hypothesized, Delayed Recall, Attention Span, and Processing Speed, all had a statistically significant effect on Learning Efficiency. Individual item analysis revealed impairment in Attention Span factor subtests: Trial 1, List B, and Middle Region scores. Conclusion: Results of this study supports the hypothesis that attention span and processing speed play vital roles in learning efficiency within this population. Findings were consistent with previous studies that suggest attentional dysfunction may be the source of the subjective memory complaints. Impairment appears to be the result of reduced encoding abilities and not objective memory problems.

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Clinical Psychology (PhD)

First Advisor

Kim, Seong-Hyeon

Document Type





Cancer, Cognitive impairment, Verbal learning, Memory


Psychiatry and Psychology


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