Computer-based measures to evaluate cognition have been used with growing frequency in recent years. These batteries are shown to be useful for identifying mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and dementia. There are few requirements to administer these tests. All that is typically needed is a computer, a response pad for patients to input their answers, and an examiner. In many cases, the examiner does not need to be a trained neuropsychologist. These computer-based assessments should yield a score report detailing the patient’s cognitive profile.
An important advantage of computerized assessments over standard paper-and-pencil testing is that they can provide precise measurement at the millisecond level. This can be a more sensitive measure of cognitive impairment, especially in high-functioning older adults and in patients with milder levels of cognitive deficit. Computer tests also have a shorter assessment time. Many batteries take <1 hour to administer, whereas many standard neuropsychological batteries require >4 hours to complete. The presentation of items in some batteries can be adapted to patients’ performance levels to avoid floor effects (the test restricts how low a patients’ scores can be) and ceiling effects (the test restricts how high scores can be). Computer tests have increased standardization; they are administered the same way every time. Scoring is automatic, meaning the results are available immediately and human scoring error is reduced. Examiner effects are reduced, which is an important advantage because clinicians may differ in how they administer standard tests, which may impact patients’ responses. In addition, the batteries are easily transported, and multiple tasks can be made available on a single computer.