Mobile apps may hold the key to effective cognitive assessment in the elderly

May 13, 2014 by John Hannan
Credit: Peter Griffin/Public Domain

(Medical Xpress)—Mobile applications developed by two undergraduate students from the Penn State Department of Computer Science and Engineering may influence the future of assessing mild cognitive impairment (MCI).

The students, computer engineering senior Robert Dick and senior Nick Doyle, worked with Nikki Hill, a postdoctoral fellow in the College of Nursing, to translate her theories on the use of apps in MCI assessment into a testable product.

MCI, a brain function syndrome, impairs cognitive function and can interfere with normal daily activities. It is sometimes considered the stage between associated with normal aging and dementia or Alzheimer's disease.

Hill believes that mobile applications hold the key to maximizing common functional abilities of older adults with MCI and to helping screen for MCI.

Dick and Doyle used Hill's specifications to create two applications: one that provides attention training, which has been shown to improve cognitive performance in older adults, and one that administers the Montreal Cognitive Assessment, which can be used as a screening tool for MCI.

Providing these apps on a mobile platform such as a smart phone or tablet would, Hill believes, make them more accessible and convenient for a wider population as well as help facilitate future community-based research with older adults experiencing, or at risk for, cognitive decline.

Development of these apps started as an application programming class project for Dick and Doyle then matured into their Schreyer Honors College senior theses, all under the mentorship of John Hannan, associate professor of computer science and engineering.

Through an iterative process of refining the design and the interface of each app, along with input and feedback from Hill and Hannan, the students built truly impressive products.

"The apps (the students) developed are fully functional and ready for initial testing by individuals within the target population. These are not simply mock-ups or prototypes," Hannan said.

The students valued being involved in a project that not only provided them with practical experience but also will be used to help people. "Having the opportunity to work on a real-world app that needed to meet someone else's expectations was an amazing experience," Dick said. "The whole process was a great learning experience."

The apps are now entering user testing where a sample group of will be asked to assess the tool and provide valuable feedback.

Explore further: People with mild cognitive impairment may die at higher rate than people without condition

Related Stories

People with mild cognitive impairment may die at higher rate than people without condition

April 23, 2014
Mayo Clinic research studying the relationship between death and the two types of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) suggests that people who have these conditions die at a higher rate than people without MCI. The research was ...

About one-quarter of patients with MCI progress to dementia

March 12, 2014
(HealthDay)—About 22 percent of patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) progress to dementia within three years, and depression symptoms modify the prognosis, according to a study published in the March/April issue ...

Late-life depression associated with prevalent mild cognitive impairment, increased risk of dementia

December 31, 2012
Depression in a group of Medicare recipients ages 65 years and older appears to be associated with prevalent mild cognitive impairment and an increased risk of dementia, according to a report published Online First by Archives ...

Mild cognitive impairment at Parkinson's disease diagnosis linked with higher risk for early dementia

March 25, 2013
Mild cognitive impairment at the time of Parkinson disease (PD) diagnosis appears to be associated with an increased risk for early dementia in a Norwegian study, according to a report published Online First by JAMA Neurology.

Chronic lung disease linked to cognitive impairment, memory loss

December 12, 2013
A recent Mayo Clinic study found that people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are about twice as likely to develop mild cognitive impairment (MCI)—and chances are that it will include memory loss. The study ...

Study examines effects of growth hormone-releasing hormone on cognitive function

August 6, 2012
Treatment with growth hormone-releasing hormone appears to be associated with favorable cognitive effects among both adults with mild cognitive impairment and healthy older adults, according to a randomized clinical trial ...

Recommended for you

Visual clues we use during walking and when we use them

July 25, 2017
(Medical Xpress)—A trio of researchers with the University of Texas and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute has discovered which phase of visual information processing during human walking is used most to guide the feet accurately. ...

Psychopaths are better at learning to lie, say researchers

July 25, 2017
Individuals with high levels of psychopathic traits are better at learning to lie than individuals who show few psychopathic traits, according to a study published in the open access journal Translational Psychiatry. The ...

Toddlers begin learning rules of reading, writing at very early age, study finds

July 25, 2017
Even the proudest of parents may struggle to find some semblance of meaning behind the seemingly random mish-mash of letters that often emerge from a toddler's first scribbled and scrawled attempts at putting words on paper.

Higher cognitive abilities linked to greater risk of stereotyping

July 24, 2017
People with higher cognitive abilities are more likely to learn and apply social stereotypes, finds a new study. The results, stemming from a series of experiments, show that those with higher cognitive abilities also more ...

Exposure to violence hinders short-term memory, cognitive control

July 24, 2017
Being exposed to and actively remembering violent episodes—even those that happened up to a decade before—hinders short-term memory and cognitive control, according to a study published in the Proceedings of the National ...

Researchers pave new path toward preventing obesity

July 24, 2017
People who experience unpredictable childhoods due to issues such as divorce, crime or frequent moves face a higher risk of becoming obese as adults, according to a new study by a Florida State University researcher.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.