Patterns of cognitive change over micro-longitudinal timescales (i.e., ranging from hours to days) are associated with a wide range of age-related health and functional outcomes. However, practical issues with conducting high-frequency assessments make investigations of micro-longitudinal cognition costly and burdensome to run. One way of addressing this is to develop cognitive assessments that can be performed by older adults, in their own homes, without a researcher being present. Here, we address the question of whether reliable and valid cognitive data can be collected over micro-longitudinal timescales using unsupervised cognitive tests.In study 1, 48 older adults completed two touchscreen cognitive tests, on three occasions, in controlled conditions, alongside a battery of standard tests of cognitive functions. In study 2, 40 older adults completed the same two computerized tasks on multiple occasions, over three separate week-long periods, in their own homes, without a researcher present. Here, the tasks were incorporated into a wider touchscreen system (Novel Assessment of Nutrition and Ageing (NANA)) developed to assess multiple domains of health and behavior. Standard tests of cognitive function were also administered prior to participants using the NANA system.Performance on the two “NANA” cognitive tasks showed convergent validity with, and similar levels of reliability to, the standard cognitive battery in both studies. Completion and accuracy rates were also very high. These results show that reliable and valid cognitive data can be collected from older adults using unsupervised computerized tests, thus affording new opportunities for the investigation of cognitive function.
Brown, L. J. E., Adlam, T., Hwang, F., Khadra, H., Maclean, L. M., Rudd, B., Smith, T., Timon, C., Williams, E. A., & Astell, A. (2016). Computer-based tools for assessing micro-longitudinal patterns of cognitive function in older adults. Age, 38, 335-350. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11357-016-9934-x