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Thirty-Third Annual Meeting of the Society for Research in Psychopathology

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124. Going Digital? Understanding the Impact of Technical Variability on Neurocognitive Assessment

Shifting neurocognitive assessment from paper-and-pencil to digital format allows greater standardization of administration, higher precision of measurement, and the collection of a broader range of performance metrics. Here, we examine the impact of device characteristic scores from a digital implementation of a Trail-Making Test (Forms A/B). 22,052 participants completed a digital Trails across a range of personal computer and mobile devices through our digital research platform TestMyBrain.org. We examined effects of input type and screen size on performance, controlling for differences in demographic characteristics. Restricting our sample to 6,471 participants age 18-25 (to minimize contribution of age-related effects), participants completed Trails significantly faster on iPad (touchscreen-input) compared with Macintosh computer (mouse-input) [Cohen’s d=0.79, p < 5e-16]. Looking at touchscreen devices alone, participants completed Trails significantly faster on iPad (large screen) as compared with iPhone (smaller screen) [Cohen’s d=1.46, p < 5e-16]. These effects of input type and screen size were comparable to the largest between group effects typically seen in clinical research studies in neuropsychiatry. In conclusion, controlling for effects of device hardware and software choices when analyzing digital neuropsychological assessment results is vital to protect the validity of scientific outcomes and clinical interpretation.

Liz Grinspoon
Laboratory for Brain and Cognitive Health Technology, McLean Hospital

Eliza Passell
Laboratory for Brain and Cognitive Health Technology, McLean Hospital

Luke Scheuer
Laboratory for Brain and Cognitive Health Technology, McLean Hospital

Kerry Ressler
Division of Depression and Anxiety Disorders, McLean Hospital; Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School

Laura Germine
Laboratory for Brain and Cognitive Health Technology, McLean Hospital; Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School

 


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