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15 April 2021
Digital Neuropsychology from a Distance: Psychometric Properties and Clinical Utility of Remote Computerized Cognitive Testing in Neuropsychiatric Populations
Neuropsychological assessment has traditionally been conducted in a face-to-face format, with a clinician administering paper-pencil tests to a patient in a small office space. However, there is increasing interest in capitalizing on advances in digital technology to both a) improve the psychometric properties of neuropsychological tests and b) allow more flexibility and efficiency in the administration/scoring process. Examples of such initiatives include AACN’s Disruptive Technology Initiative, the National Neuropsychology Network, and the Proposal to Update the Houston Conference Guidelines.
Computerized tests have advantages over paper-pencil tests in flexibility of design, in precision of stimulus presentation and recording, and in cost effectiveness. Computerized tests have been implemented in a variety of clinical disorders including Alzheimer’s disease, traumatic brain injury, substance abuse, and severe mental illness, with promising results. Moreover, a number of remote cognitive test administration platforms are now available, allowing for a) rapid collection of “big data” for neuropsychological research and b) safe and practical administration of neuropsychological evaluations for clinical purposes in the COVID-19 era. Examples of these platforms include Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, CNS Vital Signs, and TestMyBrain, among others. Relatedly, mobile cognitive testing (MCT), or the repeated administration of brief cognitive tests via mobile devices, is increasing in popularity as well.
Multiple research groups are in the process of investigating reliability, validity, sensitivity/specificity, and clinical utility of remote computerized cognitive testing in neuropsychiatric populations. This topic is relevant to neuropsychologists and there is potential for substantial growth and development of the field if new technology is leveraged in a safe and effective manner. With this in mind, the aim of the current Special Issue in the Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology is to allow a forum for the presentation of empirical findings and conceptual work in remote computerized neuropsychological assessment.
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