Original article

Scand J Work Environ Health 1985;11 suppl 1:65-74    pdf

Use of behavioral performance tests in the assessment of solvent toxicity.

by Gamberale F

Common to all applications of psychometric techniques in toxicologic research is the assessment of behavioral performance changes which can be regarded as manifestations of the neurotoxic effect of the compound under study. Ever since the use of psychometric techniques made it possible to link together deterioration of behavioral performance in humans and the inhalation of solvent vapor, psychometric tests or batteries of tests have been widely and successfully used in the study of solvent toxicity. In fact, most of the evidence showing that low-dose exposure to industrial solvents can exert a depressant action on the nervous system has been obtained with psychometric tests. The present paper provides a short review of the main results obtained by the application of behavioral performance tests in the study of solvent toxicity. The studies reviewed are divided among experimental laboratory investigations, quasi-experimental field studies, epidemiologic studies, and studies using data from clinical investigations. The paper also provides a discussion of the applicability of psychometric techniques to the different questions at issue in the study of the effects of solvent exposure on the nervous system. Special attention is focused upon the interpretation of behavioral performance changes with regard to factors associated with the type of test used, the condition under which the tests are performed, the subjects' characteristics, and the study design.