An Innovative Language Controlled Tablet-Based Cognitive Test: Harmonizing Dementia Screening Across High- and Low-Literacy Countries


Principal Investigator: Lisa Berkman

Developing sensitive and valid indicators of dementia and cognitive function in low literacy and low income countries is challenging and requires creative approaches to complement standard neuropsychological batteries. In collaboration with Oxford University, we use an innovative language controlled tablet-based approach to assessing cognition in the HAALSI cohort. In this harmonization study, funded by the National Institute on Aging (NIA), we implement the tablet-based assessment on a sample of participants aged 50 and older in Agincourt, South Africa, and validate it against standard cognitive batteries, clinical assessments, and informant assessments.

We evaluate this novel approach to reduce cultural or educational bias in cognitive assessments. By using a tablet assessment with tasks that are visually oriented and use simple language, we will be better able to disentangle the causal pathways from socioeconomic conditions to cognition. We aim to increase our ability to understand whether cross-country comparisons reflect genuine differences in risk and prevalence, which will give us important etiologic clues regarding Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.

Data is now publically available through the Harvard Dataverse.