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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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