PenScreenSix now available for Android® Tablets

 

PenScreenSix is a test battery containing 14 performance and cognitive tasks designed to run on 7" Android® tablets. The test battery is menu-driven, and allows specification of test length, and other parameters for each test run. It is intended for use in a supervised setting for research purposes. 

PenScreenSix licenses are £150 per device, with quantity discounts available. 

Click here for more information.

We're now incorporated as Mobile Cognition Ltd

Mobile Cognition Ltd was incorporated on  30th November 2012. Brian Tiplady is owner and director of the company. PenScreen will continue to be a trading style of the new company, and contact details are unchanged. The company registration number is SC437965.

An Unusual Use of the Mobile Phone Testing System

Divers deal with increased pressure all the time, and as depth increases so does the pressure. This can lead to a number of problems, one of which is the narcotic action of nitrogen that dissolves in the blood in increasing quantities, and causes effects similar to alcohol - the "raptures of the deep".

To study effects of pressure in the laboratory, researchers use a high pressure "hyperbaric" chamber. A difficulty with this is that conventional equipment, including PCs, may implode with the pressure. Mobile phones have been tested and shown to withstand pressures up to the equivalent of 50m of sea water, and so are suitable test devices.  Researchers in the University of Utrecht are using our mobile phone testing system to study cognitive effects of increased pressure. 

The photo shows a volunteer using the mobile phone testing system inside the hyperbaric chamber

Read more about research using the Mobile Laboratory approach

Ecological Momentary Assessment of Cognition

Brian Tiplady gave a presentation at the American Psychological Association  in Washington DC on 6th August. The session was on the use of mobile technology for assessing cognition in addictive drug use. The session described a variety of approaches, including assessing attentional bias and implicit drug-related associations; general impairments due to drug use; and ways of identifying likelihood of relapse and providing therapeutic interventions.

The session was chaired by Andrew Waters and Stephan Heishman, and Saul Shiffman, a pioneer of EMA, was the discussant. Brian Tiplady's presentation dealt with the rationale for field assessment of cognitive effects of alcohol, the use of PDAs and mobile phones for this purpose. He reviewed field studies based in pubs, bars and other drinking environments, and discussed everyday approaches using mobile phones in volunteers' everyday lives

Click here to view the presentation

Electronic solutions for patient-reported data : New book out now!

Bill Byrom and Brian Tiplady are the editors of a new book on electronic patient reported outcomes (ePRO) that has just been published by Gower. In fact this is the first book to be published on this topic. Click here for the description of the book on the Gower website. 

Both editors have extensive experience in this area of clinical trials methodology, and the book brings together other authors with expertise in the area, including some of the pioneers who first used portable devices and phone systems as patient diaries in the early and mid-90s.

The book is especially timely, as the final guidance on patient-reported outcomes was released by the US Food and Drug Administration at the end of last year, and the book takes this fully into account. It covers scientific and practical aspects of implementing ePRO methods, and shows what needs to be done to produce valid, documented patient reports of high quality.

You can read a sample chapter from the book for free. This is Brian Tiplady's chapter: Diary design considerations: interface issues and patient acceptability

Validating mobile phone tests

Using mobile phones as a cognitive testing platform raises a number of validation issues, including:

  • Is the device capable of accurate timing?

  • Is the software working as intended?

  • Are tests with a small screen equivalent to other methods?

  • Can unsupervised users cope with the tests?

  • Are they using the system properly

  • Are the tests capable of detecting the effects of interest?

Brian Tiplady recently gave a presentation on this topic at the International Conference of Applied Psychology in Melbourne (July 2010). He showed how these issues could be successfully addressed using a three level model. 

Click here to view the presentation

Testing Drivers at the Roadside for the Effects of Drugs and Alcohol

Evening News Item

Telegraph Item

New Scientist Item

Melbourne Presentation

We're all used to the idea of the breathalyser, but many drugs besides alcohol can impair driving - both legal drugs (such as antihistamines and sleeping pills) and illegal ones. These are much harder to measure than alcohol, so the UK police are developing methods of detecting impairment using cognitive tests on a small portable device. Brian Tiplady and a team in Edinburgh University have conducted a study to evaluate the sensitivity of this type of test to alcohol. An Edinburgh Evening News reporter has written of her experience as a volunteer in this study. There have also been reports on the project in the Telegraph and New Scientist. The full report of this study has now appeared as 

Dixon, P.R., Clark, T., Tiplady, B. (2009). Evaluation of a roadside impairment test device using alcohol. Accid Anal Prev. 41(3):412-8 [Abstract]

Brian Tiplady recently gave a presentation at the International Conference of Applied Psychology in Melbourne (July 2010). The talk was entitled "Portable approaches to assessing driver impairment", and gave some of the background to the roadside impairment project, and summarized the main findings.

Click here to view the presentation

 

Free Download of Mobile Phone Testing System

You can now try out the Mobile Phone Cognitive Testing application free of charge. This is primarily an evaluation version, but includes fully functional tests and scales

The free version has some limitations. The tests are of fixed length (about 3 minutes each), and data options are limited to display of results on the screen. You can't transmit data over the web or store it on your phone's memory card. However the tests are the real thing, and you could use this version in small research projects, or for teaching purposes, as well as for getting to know the way the system works and whether it suits your needs.

Find out more about downloading the evaluation version

Comparing Everyday Life and Laboratory Assessments of Cognitive Impairment due to Alcohol: Full Report now Published

Mobile phones are great devices for cognitive testing. They are highly portable, relatively inexpensive, and many people already own suitable phones and are familiar with using them. They can be used to carry out field studies, for example of the effects of alcohol. Such studies (aka "everyday life" or " naturalistic studies") have advantages over lab studies, which are artificial in using fixed doses and a setting very different from a normal drinking environment. But naturalistic studies are also less controlled than a lab setting. We have compared everyday life and lab assessments of alcohol effects in the same volunteers, and found that impairments can be clearly shown in both settings . Results from the study have been presented at three recent meetings, the International Society for Pharmacoeconomics and Outcomes Research in Toronto in May 2008, the British Association for Psychopharmacology in Harrogate in July 2008, and the British Psychological Society meeting at Low Wood, Windermere, in September 2008

Brian Tiplady has also given a presentation entitled "Ambulatory Cognitive Assessment: Measurement of Attention, Psychomotor Performance and Memory in an Everyday Life Setting", which covered some of these issues,  at the at the DIA Clinical Forum, Nice,  in October 2009.

The full report of this study has been published in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. Read More

The Word-Number Test

There are two main ways to present verbal memory tests, recall and recognition. Recognition tasks use a multiple-choice format, and are easy to automate. But they are easier than recall tasks, and may tap into a different type of memory. We need tasks that assess recollective memory,  but conventional recall tasks require a spoken or written response, which must be scored  as correct or incorrect. This is not easy to automate.

 

We have evaluated an alternative paradigm, first suggested by Frankhuizen et al. (1978). Words are presented paired with digits. The response to each word is then to press the corresponding number button. Since all of the set of digits are used for each stimulus set, response familiarity is not a valid cue, and only recollection can be used. The test is set up on a mobile phone, as shown on the left

 

We have assessed the test in an everyday study of the effects of alcohol, and showed that people who have consumed significant alcohol (at least 5 units in the past 6 hours) are impaired on this task. Results are similar to those seen previously using a word-list recall task. The study was presented as a poster at the Oxford meeting of the British Association for Psychopharmacology in July 2009. Click here to see the poster.

A simple reaction time test to assess sedation

This is one of the simplest reaction time tests. If the arrow points left, press a left button, if it points right, press a right button. We've been using this test to follow sedation when patients receive an intravenous anaesthetic, and to check whether the effect on brain function follows the blood levels. Setting up the test on a mobile phone allowed us to test performance in a routine hospital setting, where bulky equipment would just get in the way. Reaction time testers don't get much smaller than this, but patients can use them without difficulty. The full report of the research has recently appeared in the journal Anaesthesia