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The Frontal Assessment Battery (FAB) And Its Sub-scales: Validation And Updated Normative Data In An Italian Population Sample

Edoardo Nicolò Aiello, Antonella Esposito, Chiara Gramegna, Valentina Gazzaniga, Stefano Zago, Teresa Difonzo, Ildebrando Marco Appollonio, Nadia Bolognini

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Abstract Background Deficits of executive functioning (EF) are frequently found in neurological disorders. The Frontal Assessment Battery (FAB) is one of the most widespread and psychometrically robust EF screeners in clinical settings. However, in Italy, FAB norms date back to 15 years ago; moreover, its validity against “EF-loaded” global cognitive screeners (e.g., the Montreal Cognitive Assessment, MoCA) has yet to be tested. This study thus aimed at (a) providing updated normative data for the Italian FAB and (b) assessing its convergent validity with the MoCA. Methods Four-hundred and seventy-five healthy Italian native speakers (306 females, 169 males; mean age: 61.08 ± 15.1; mean education: 11.67 ± 4.57) were administered by the MoCA and the FAB. FAB items were divided into three subscales: FAB-1 (linguistically mediated EF), FAB-2 (planning), and FAB-3 (inhibition). Regression-based norms were derived (equivalent scores) for all FAB measures. Results Age and education were predictive of all FAB measures, whereas no gender differences were detected. The FAB and its sub-scales were related to MoCA measures—the strongest associations being found with MoCA total and MoCA-EF scores. FAB sub-scales were both internally related and associated with FAB total scores. Discussion The FAB proved to have convergent validity with both global cognitive and EF measures in healthy individuals. The present study provides updated normative data for the FAB and its sub-scales in an Italian population sample, and thus supports an adaptive usage of this EF screener.