Feasibility of Using Smart Devices and Digital Technologies in the Assessment of Human Cognitive Abilities: Perspective for India

Feasibility of Using Smart Devices and Digital Technologies in the Assessment of Human Cognitive Abilities: Perspective for India

Aparna Sahu (Turiyan Psyneuronics Pvt. Ltd, India)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-8244-1.ch001
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The chapter covers topics concerning the use of smart devices such as smartphones, tablet devices, computer-based testing, and digital technology such as virtual reality, for the use of neuropsychological assessments. Several research results show promise for the use of the aforementioned technologies for the benefit of assessments for discriminating between patients and normal controls, and the increasing comfort levels of participants. Key advantages and disadvantages to using these technologies and future directions in terms of adopting newer technologies are discussed in the light of current developments. A specific emphasis is also laid on countries such as India that is ready to adopt such technologies in the healthcare sector.
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Psychology has come a long way since its inception as a scientific discipline. Empirical testing, evidence-based research, and ecological validity of assessments for neurological and psychiatric conditions are now the hallmark of the field.

This review chapter is specifically based on neuropsychological /neurocognitive assessment tools that are used to supplement diagnosis of neurological conditions. Furthermore, the key feature of the chapter is to check for the feasibility of integrating new developments with a specific emphasis on smart devices, and digital reality with assessments, and their use on neurological patients in India.

Neuropsychological assessments are “means of measuring in a quantitative, standardized fashion the most complex aspects of human behavior—attention, perception, memory, speech and language, building and drawing, reasoning, problem solving, judgment, planning, and emotional processing” (p.60, Lezak, Howieson, Bigler, & Tranel, 2012). Neuropsychological assessments till date use paper-pencil versions. Assessment tests for various cognitive functioning are known to have strong psychometric properties, and are known to be highly reliable (test scores are consistent over time) and valid (test measures what it is meant to measure). However, since the last two decades or so, researchers and clinicians have experimented with integrating technological advances with cognitive assessments. These have included,

  • 1.

    Web-based assessments and computer-based assessments, which are typically conducted on the computer either as an installed application on the system or in the online modality,

  • 2.

    Tablet-device based assessments that normally involve carrying out the assessment on a tablet device where data gets stored and/or being transferred to the cloud into an online database, and

  • 3.

    Digital reality technology, which simulates reality in different ways (Cook, Cotteleer, & Holdowsky, 2018).

The chapter concentrates on the use of smart devices and digital reality for cognitive assessments. In keeping with this intention, the chapter is broadly divided into the following sub-sections:

  • 1.

    Use of computer and smart devices and digital reality for cognitive assessments,

  • 2.

    Benefits, and concerns about integrating smart devices and digital reality with neuropsychological assessments, and

  • 3.

    Scope of integrating technology in the cognitive healthcare sector in India


Computer Based Assessments, Smart Devices And Digital Reality For Cognitive Assessments

Generically, smart devices are interactive electronic gadgets that can connect to other devices via wireless protocols such as Bluetooth, WI-FI, LI-FI, and 3G-5G. Smart devices include smart phones, tablet devices, smart watches, smart bands, and smart speakers. These devices have artificial intelligence networks at the backend, and may be said to be characterized with a level of intuition as programmed by the makers of these devices.

However, the American Academy of Clinical Psychology and the American Academy of Neuropsychology consider computer based and smart devices under the umbrella term of Computerized Neuropsychological Assessment Devices (CNAD) for administering, scoring, and even interpreting test results pertaining to behaviour and neurological conditions (Bauer et al., 2012). Within the CNADs, there are variations that would either include or exclude an examiner, typically a clinical psychologist or a neuropsychologist who is trained in administering, and interpreting test results (Bauer et al., 2012). For instance, few computerized batteries are used for assessing neuropsychological functioning that comprise important domains such as attention, memory, language, speed of processing; these are compromised and are influence by the neurological conditions such as epilepsy and even the use of anti-epileptic medications. Data obtained from these batteries are automatically scored, and may be interpreted by a trained clinician (Witt, Alpherts, & Helmstaedter, 2013).

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