What is it about?

We asked how well older adults' scores on computerized, online measures of cognition matched up with their scores from previous testing in the lab. Although the results were promising, they also indicate that online tests need to be carefully designed to make sure that people understand the instructions and don't "cheat" by writing down or looking up answers.

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Why is it important?

Dementia screenings and other cognitive tests are important both for research and medical care, particularly with older adults. Many of these things had to move online due to COVID, but online testing could also be very useful in non-pandemic times, especially for older adults who may not have reliable transportation or have other difficulties traveling for research or medical assessment. However, unless we can make sure they are valid, those tests could do more harm than good.


Thank you for your interest in this work! Fortunately, most people seem to approach the tests honestly and to do their best without resorting to external aids like writing things down or looking up answers. However, we did have a few "cheaters" and they are surprisingly creative! We knew there would be some issues with converting mental performance tests to fully automated, online versions, and we were able to deal with a lot of those up front. On the other hand, discovering some of the unexpected ones and thinking through potential solutions to them for future tests was the most enjoyable part of the study, We hope our recommendations will be useful to the field!

Cindy Lustig
University of Michigan

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: How well do online, self-administered measures correspond to in-lab assessments? A preliminary examination of three measures in healthy older adults., Neuropsychology, May 2022, American Psychological Association (APA), DOI: 10.1037/neu0000819.
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