Screen size has little or no effect on cognitive test performance

Arrow flankers, one of the tests compared on the two platforms

PenScreenSix is designed to run on a 7"  tablet. Many of the tests can also be run on a mobile phone with a much smaller screen, typically 2.5" diagonal. Does this make a difference? Jimmy Jansen, Joris Verster at Utrecht University and their colleagues have completed a study comparing the two platforms in a crossover design. Performance was very similar, and results correlated well between the different size devices.

Brian Tiplady presented a poster on the study at the recent ISPOR meeting in Glasgow (November 4-8th 2017).

Click here to view the poster

IVR and tablet assessments of suicidality are equivalent

Prospective assessment of suicidality (suicidal behaviours and ideation) is increasingly used in clinical trials, and electronic assessment was originally set up using a telephone system (interactive voice response/IVR). More recently a tablet version has been developed, and a study carried out by ERT and the Columbia group, with Brian Tiplady as a co-author, compared this to the IVR system. Both modalities showed very similar results.

Click here to view the paper

A new electronic patient diary for COPD

COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) is a common, disabling disorder, and is often assessed using patient diaries. This recent paper describes the development and validation of a new electronic diary (eDiary) that distinguishes between the severity of symptoms, and the degree of interference with activities caused by the condition. Shortness of breath isa key symptom of COPD. The study, carried out by ERT and Novartis, with Brian Tiplady as a co-author, showed that the eDiary had good consistency and reliability, and was sensitive to changes in the patient's condition.

Click here to view the paper

PenScreenSix now available for Android® Tablets

PenScreenSix is a test battery containing 20 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