Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Designing a digital toolbox to quickly check cognitive function

14.04.2003


A new computer software package, currently under development, will give the term “personal digital assistant” (PDA) a new meaning, helping users quickly and easily evaluate if they are operating at their mental best.


Tests on hand-held, personal digital assistant devices are being developed so astronauts can conduct quick, self tests to determine their cognitive processes, such as the ability to pay attention. These tests can be used to evaluate how lack of sleep, physical exercise, hormonal variations or even diet affect cognitive function.

Photo courtesy of L. Barry Hetherington for the NSBRI.



“Difficult tasks, such as an astronaut performing a space walk or a surgeon doing a complicated operation, require the utmost attention and vigilance. We’re developing a way for people to test themselves and make sure they are mentally up to the challenge,” said Dr. Stephen Kosslyn, a researcher on the National Space Biomedical Research Institute’s (NSBRI) neurobehavioral and psychosocial factors team. “Test results can help users determine if they need to eat, sleep, exercise, or better focus their thoughts on the task at hand.”

MiniCog, a new software package being developed and tested by Kosslyn’s research team, could help people in many situations determine what they are capable of safely achieving. The program is quick, easy to use, and designed for use on the newest-generation PDA. MiniCog contains nine cognitive tasks that evaluate attention, working memory, problem-solving ability, motor control and ability to switch thinking among cognitive sets. The battery of tasks does not have to be taken all at once, but rather a subset of tests can be used to assess certain aspects of the user’s mental ability at a given time. “Each task takes about two minutes to complete,” Kosslyn said.


“Once you’ve taken the tests a couple of times, you won’t need to read the instructions anymore, and the tasks are easier to complete without affecting the outcome of the test,” Kosslyn said. “It’s more like a game.”

The program keeps users’ scores, so they can see how they are performing relative to past tests. A graph comes up at the end that shows the results.

The package is designed for astronauts who often have sleep disruption while in flight or experience other side effects from being in a weightless environment, but it will be applicable to other industries or people in extreme environments. For example, surgeons could utilize the tests before beginning a lengthy procedure, or long-distance truck drivers could determine when they need a nap.

“The tasks used in MiniCog are based on validated paradigms and documented cognitive performance tests, but the stimuli for the tasks are new to this package and the duration of the tasks varies from standard tests,” said Jennifer Shephard, research assistant on the project.

The well-documented Stroop Test, used for decades as an evaluator for attention, is one of the tasks. With MiniCog, the word “red” appears on the PDA screen, but the color of the word can be blue. A user is asked to quickly respond with the color of the ink.

Another test, the “odd-man-out,” asks users to identify a lower-case letter in a series of upper-case characters. At some point the test switches, and users are asked to choose an odd letter in a series rather than the case. MiniCog measures how much time it takes the user to make the switch and the errors the user makes.

While undergoing pilot testing, user feedback and data were analyzed to refine the timing of the tasks. Now, Kosslyn’s group is gathering comparative information among users and validating the tasks against traditional cognitive tests. Future tests will include using the program on test subjects who are working in extreme environments.

“Once we have a final program with user averages that model what normal variability is under different, stressful environments, we can provide people with enough information so they’ll take the proper precautions,” Shephard said. “That’s why we designed MiniCog. We want users to know how they’re doing, so they can take care in future behavior whether it’s driving another shift or doing a space walk.”



The NSBRI, funded by NASA, is a consortium of institutions studying the health risks related to long-duration space flight. The Institute’s research and education projects take place at more than 70 institutions across the United States.

Liesl Owens | NSBRI
Further information:
http://www.nsbri.org/NewsPublicOut/20030411.html
http://www.nsbri.org/NewsPublicOut/Release.epl?r=42

More articles from Information Technology:

nachricht Cutting edge research for the industries of tomorrow – DFKI and NICT expand cooperation
21.03.2017 | Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Künstliche Intelligenz GmbH, DFKI

nachricht Molecular motor-powered biocomputers
20.03.2017 | Technische Universität Dresden

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Argon is not the 'dope' for metallic hydrogen

24.03.2017 | Materials Sciences

Astronomers find unexpected, dust-obscured star formation in distant galaxy

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Gravitational wave kicks monster black hole out of galactic core

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>