Feasibility, Reliability, and Validity of a Smartphone Based Application for the Assessment of Cognitive Function in the Elderly

Brouillette, Robert M.; Foil, Heather; Fontenot, Stephanie; Correro, Anthony; Allen, Ray; Martin, Corby K.; Bruce-Keller, Annadora J.; Keller, Jeffrey N.
June 2013
PLoS ONE;Jun2013, Vol. 8 Issue 6, p1
Academic Journal
While considerable knowledge has been gained through the use of established cognitive and motor assessment tools, there is a considerable interest and need for the development of a battery of reliable and validated assessment tools that provide real-time and remote analysis of cognitive and motor function in the elderly. Smartphones appear to be an obvious choice for the development of these “next-generation” assessment tools for geriatric research, although to date no studies have reported on the use of smartphone-based applications for the study of cognition in the elderly. The primary focus of the current study was to assess the feasibility, reliability, and validity of a smartphone-based application for the assessment of cognitive function in the elderly. A total of 57 non-demented elderly individuals were administered a newly developed smartphone application-based Color-Shape Test (CST) in order to determine its utility in measuring cognitive processing speed in the elderly. Validity of this novel cognitive task was assessed by correlating performance on the CST with scores on widely accepted assessments of cognitive function. Scores on the CST were significantly correlated with global cognition (Mini-Mental State Exam: r = 0.515, p<0.0001) and multiple measures of processing speed and attention (Digit Span: r = 0.427, p<0.0001; Trail Making Test: r = −0.651, p<0.00001; Digit Symbol Test: r = 0.508, p<0.0001). The CST was not correlated with naming and verbal fluency tasks (Boston Naming Test, Vegetable/Animal Naming) or memory tasks (Logical Memory Test). Test re-test reliability was observed to be significant (r = 0.726; p = 0.02). Together, these data are the first to demonstrate the feasibility, reliability, and validity of using a smartphone-based application for the purpose of assessing cognitive function in the elderly. The importance of these findings for the establishment of smartphone-based assessment batteries of cognitive and motor function in the elderly is discussed.


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