A study validates Guttmann Cognitest as a digital tool for the cognitive assessment of healthy adults

One of the main problems in the treatment of neurodegenerative pathologies is that when the first symptoms appear, the disease is very advanced and it is no longer possible to work on its prevention. This makes it very necessary to establish cognitive assessment tools that are sensitive, efficient and accessible on a large scale. Researchers at the Institut Guttmann have published an article in the journal Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience with the validation of the digital tool Guttmann Cognitest, which allows to perform the test without the need for the presence or supervision of professionals.

Alzheimer's and other neurodegenerative diseases are preceded by a long preclinical stage, in which the symptoms are not yet visible. Detecting these cases early is essential for the development of tools for prevention and promotion of resilience to the disease, but diagnosing them in primary care is very difficult, due to the lack of specialised staff and resources. Moreover, situations such as the Covid pandemic have highlighted the need for alternative pathways to classical testing.

In this context, technological tools are emerging as a possible solution to apply these tests to large population samples. The article published in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience validates the digital solution Guttmann Cognitest, a cognitive assessment tool that includes 7 tasks that take about 20 minutes and can be performed without the need for direct supervision by specialised personnel. "This facilitates correction and improves the efficiency of the assessment process, reaching more people. In addition, it allows monitoring and comparisons over time, to assess the evolution of each person" explains Javier Solana, researcher at the Institut Guttmann and technological developer of Guttmann Cognitest.

Cognitive performance measurement tool

The validation was carried out with a sample of 274 participants between 40 and 65 years of age and without neurological disorders from the Barcelona Brain Health Initiative, an initiative of the Institut Guttmann aimed at finding out and understanding how to maintain the health of the brain over time. The study involved 126 women and 148 men, who underwent a classic neuropsychological assessment (face-to-face, on paper, with a professional and lasting between 60 and 90 minutes) and the assessment using the Guttmann Cognitest.

The results indicate that the Guttmann Cognitest assessment is related to the results obtained with the face-to-face assessment and serves as a tool for measuring cognitive performance, which validates its potential use in this type of population. 

Gabriele Cattaneo, researcher at the Institut Guttmann and first author of the article, stresses that the tool's design focuses on the functions that initially deteriorate in the early stages of cognitive disorders. "For this reason, we included tests that have been shown to be sensitive to the early detection of Alzheimer's, such as associative memory tasks," he explains.

In addition, the results of the Guttmann Cognitest show that the tool is also sensitive to non-pathological ageing, given that, in line with expectations, the older the user, the worse the overall results, and the higher the level of education, the better the results. As for gender differences, men scored better in attention and executive functions, while women were superior in memory tasks.

Article: Guttmann Cognitest, preliminary of digital solution to test cognitive performance