Clinical course of neuropsychological functioning after chronic exposure to organic and inorganic lead

Karen Bolla, Jo Ellen Rignani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This case series describes the clinical course (12- to 28-month follow- up) of neuropsychological functioning in 23 workers who had chronic occupational exposure to a mixture of organic and inorganic lead. Significant improvement in performance was seen in 1/23 tests and deterioration in 3/23 tests. However, there was no significant change in the majority of tests (19/23). Tests that showed deterioration were all tests of psychomotor/motor speed. In addition, 10 of 13 workers who completed a symptom checklist twice reported more frequent physical, cognitive, and affective symptoms at follow- up. This increase in symptoms was associated with psychomotor/motor slowing as compared to initial test performance. Many workers subjectively reported an increased frequency of memory and concentration problems at follow-up, although this change could not be documented objectively. Individual worker demographic and exposure characteristics were not predictive of changes in neuropsychological performance at retest. We propose a psychosocial mechanism to explain the increase in symptom severity and the psychomotor/motor slowing because environmental levels of lead declined during the inter-test interval.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)123-131
Number of pages9
JournalArchives of Clinical Neuropsychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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