Computerized tests to measure neurocognitive damage are not always reliable and should not replace traditional assessments, experts at the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center (DVBIC) confirmed after comparing various types of assessments in a new study.
Neurocognitive testing is often standard after a suspected traumatic brain injury (TBI). Current neurocognitive tests, designed to measure various cognitive processes such as attention, memory and executive function, are typically of the paper-and-pencil variety and are administered by a trained psychologist. Traditional testing may also include some computer-based tests.
The “Head to Head” study examined the reliability and validity of four computerized neurocognitive assessments (NCATs) — ANAM4, CNS Vital Signs, CogState and ImPACT — with service members at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. ANAM is the most widely used, but Army Special Forces prefers to use ImPACT.
In some ways, comparing NCATs to traditional tests and NCATs to one another is like trying to compare apples to oranges because there are many ways to measure cognitive ability, DVBIC Senior Clinical Research Director Wesley Cole and DVBIC Senior Clinical Research Associate Jacques Arrieux said in a webinar that presented the “Head to Head” study findings. As a result, they were unable to determine whether one NCAT was better than the others.