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Digital pen technology for conducting cognitive assessments: a cross-over study with older adults

A. Heimann-Steinert; A. Latendorf; Alexander Prange; Daniel Sonntag; U. Müller-Werdan
In: Psychological Research, Vol. 85, Pages 1-9, Springer, 2020.


Many digitalized cognitive assessments exist to increase reliability, standardization, and objectivity. Particularly in older adults, the performance of digitized cognitive assessments can lead to poorer test results if they are unfamiliar with the computer, mouse, keyboard, or touch screen. In a cross-over design study, 40 older adults (age M = 74.4 ± 4.1 years) conducted the Trail Making Test A and B with a digital pen (digital pen tests, DPT) and a regular pencil (pencil tests, PT) to identify differences in performance. Furthermore, the tests conducted with a digital pen were analyzed manually (manual results, MR) and electronically (electronic results, ER) by an automized system algorithm to determine the possibilities of digital pen evaluation. ICC(2,k) showed a good level of agreement for TMT A (ICC(2,k) = 0.668) and TMT B (ICC(2,k) = 0.734) between PT and DPT. When comparing MR and ER, ICC(2,k) showed an excellent level of agreement in TMT A (ICC(2,k) = 0.999) and TMT B (ICC(2,k) = 0.994). The frequency of pen lifting correlates significantly with the execution time in TMT A (r = 0.372, p = 0.030) and TMT B (r = 0.567, p < 0.001). A digital pen can be used to perform the Trail Making Test, as it has been shown that there is no difference in the results due to the type of pen used. With a digital pen, the advantages of digitized testing can be used without having to accept the disadvantages.


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