CIGEV, area gerontology: Research on Lifespan, Multidirectionality and Plasticity – Director: Matthias Kliegel

Validation of online assessment tools (COGTEL & CRUISER)

As the population ages, risks for cognitive decline threaten independence and quality of life for older adults and present challenges to health care systems and to older adults’ close relatives. Early signs of cognitive decline often can be detected long before important changes of cognitive functioning are noticed, for certain individuals as early as during midlife.

Different psychological assessment tools have been developed, which allow evaluating participants’ level of cognitive functioning at different stages of life. In particular, COGTEL (Kliegel, Martin, & Jäger, 2007) represents a short but valid tool, allowing assessment of performance on different key domains of cognition, such as retrospective memory, verbal fluency or reasoning. Similarly, prospective memory (PM) tasks are frequently administered, as older adults’ PM typically relates to their autonomy, personal level of wellbeing and overall cognitive functioning.

Classically, participants’ performance on such tools is evaluated in face-to-face laboratory sessions with a psychologist. However, face-to-face sessions are time- and resource-consuming: they typically involve participants and/or experimenters to commute, require office space, laboratory equipment, etc. As a consequence, today, researchers and psychologists more and more frequently shift to online tools (e.g., online questionnaires, online forms allowing to refer individuals to specific experts, etc.). Online tools have the advantage of being much more ecological and, in addition, they typically allow reaching a broader population, as less time and resources are spend per assessment.

The present research plan focuses on the development and the validation of two new online tools, allowing a rapid assessment of general cognitive functioning (COGTEL) as well as of prospective memory (CRUISER) as core indicator of everyday relevant cognitive functioning.

In detail, the project will allow testing whether and in what terms:

(a) general cognitive performance measured in a self-administered home setting is comparable to results obtained in a controlled face-to-face laboratory setting; and

(b) a newly developed online PM task produces reliable measures of PM