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Monitoring cognition via mobile applications: iPad app analyzed

We recent­ly came across a fas­ci­nat­ing sci­en­tif­ic study, titled Exam­in­ing cog­ni­tive func­tion across the lifes­pan using a mobile appli­ca­tion (Com­put­ers in Human Behav­ior), which stud­ied the val­ue and lim­i­ta­tions of using an iPad app called “brain­base­line.”

Abstract: “Many stud­ies con­duct­ed in a lab­o­ra­to­ry or uni­ver­si­ty set­ting are lim­it­ed by fund­ing, per­son­nel, space, and time con­straints. In the present study, we intro­duce a method of data col­lec­tion using a mobile appli­ca­tion that cir­cum­vents these typ­i­cal exper­i­ment admin­is­tra­tion issues…We obtained data from more than 15,000 par­tic­i­pants and repli­cat­ed spe­cif­ic pat­terns of age-relat­ed dif­fer­ences in cognition…we also exam­ined the pro­cess­ing speed account of age-relat­ed cog­ni­tive dif­fer­ences, and the asso­ci­a­tion of exer­cise and leisure activ­i­ty with cog­ni­tive func­tion across the lifes­pan. We dis­cuss the rel­a­tive advan­tages and dis­ad­van­tages of data col­lec­tion with a mobile appli­ca­tion, and pro­vide rec­om­men­da­tions for the use of this method in research…Cognitive per­for­mance reached an asymp­tote dur­ing young adult­hood, and then declined grad­u­al­ly. ? Pro­cess­ing speed medi­ates the rela­tion­ship between age and cog­ni­tive per­for­mance. ? Exer­cise had a pos­i­tive asso­ci­a­tion with pro­cess­ing speed. ? Video game expe­ri­ence had dif­fer­ent asso­ci­a­tions with younger and old­er adult’s mem­o­ry and atten­tion.”

An even more inter­est­ing question–outside the scope of this par­tic­u­lar study–is when and how will mobile and/ or online appli­ca­tions enable con­sumers and patients mon­i­tor their own cog­ni­tion and brain health, as we dis­cussed at the 2012 Sharp­Brains Vir­tu­al Sum­mit dur­ing the pan­el “How can empow­ered con­sumers mon­i­tor their own brain health? A miss­ing piece in today’s health toolk­it is the abil­ity for end-users to quan­tify and mon­i­tor their cog­ni­tive and emo­tional self. Giv­en grow­ing self-track­ing and self-care activ­ity, often with ques­tion­able val­ue, and sig­nif­i­cant inter­est in an “annu­al men­tal check­up”, the ques­tion aris­es: What method­olo­gies and instru­ments may help healthy users mean­ing­fully mon­i­tor their own brain health and per­for­mance?”

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Categories: Cognitive Neuroscience, Health & Wellness, Technology

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As seen in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, BBC News, CNN, Reuters and more, SharpBrains is an independent market research firm tracking health and performance applications of brain science.

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