Developing a Brief, Multi-mode Cognitive Instrument

Period of Performance: 08/15/1997 - 12/31/1998


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

NEW England Research Institutes, Inc.
Watertown, MA 02472
Principal Investigator


Intact cognitive functioning, especially the ability to remember important information and to process information quickly, accurately, and efficiently, is critical for maintaining independent functioning and quality of life in later years of life. Research conducted over the last two decades has suggested that associations exist between cognitive ability and subsequent functional ability, morbidity, health service utilization, and mortality. However, much of this research has employed cognitive instruments which only differentiate pathological aging from normal aging (e.g., Mini Mental State Examination). Other cognitive instruments (e.g., the Weschler Memory Scale-Revised) are able to make more fine-grained distinctions but are two time-consuming and complex for administration in large-scale surveys. With this SBIR initiative, we intend to fill this void by developing a brief cognitive instrument which 1) assesses two key aspects of cognitive functioning that show significant decrement with aging and strong relations with health and functional status, (2) enables researchers to make distinctions between individuals in the normal range of cognitive functioning, and (3) can be administered over the telephone as well as in face-to-face settings. This proposal, which covers Phase I activities, will encompass two tasks: (1) The development of technology that will enable researchers to collect both accuracy and response latency data over the telephone; (2) pilot testing the instrument by making cross-modal performance comparisons. Phase II will address issues of validity and reliability in more detail. PROPOSED COMMERCIAL APPLICATION: The instrument we propose to develop is a response to the growing recognition of the importance of cognitive functioning for aging and health. This instrument will increase the predictive value of studies conducted by behavioral scientists and epidemiologists, allowing them to identify key cognitive antecedents to health-related decline.