Baycrest develops new online memory test

Results can be used as conversation starters with physicians

Friday, June 20, 2014 — Deron Hamel

Researchers at Baycrest Health Sciences in Toronto have developed a free online brain test designed to help people aged 50 to 79 decide if they need to speak with a doctor about memory changes.

The 20-minute test mimics a game and tests memory and attention, two cognitive functions that are affected by aging and conditions causing cognitive impairment.

At the end of the test, people receive a score to determine cognitive health. While results from the test should not be perceived as a diagnosis, they can be used to start discussions with doctors about cognitive health.

About two to three per cent of people score below average for their age and education. These individuals are asked to retest themselves in a week. People who still score below average are provided with a report they can bring to their doctor about their cognitive health.

Dr. Angela Troyer is one of the researchers that developed the test. Troyer, director of neuropsychology and cognitive health at Baycrest, explains the goals behind the project.

“Our aim with the brain health test is to reassure the worried-well and nudge that small percentage of people who do have serious memory issues to discuss their concerns with a doctor,” she says in a statement.

She adds that the test results are not a diagnosis, but rather a starting point for conversations with physicians about necessary next steps and options.

“Getting checked early is the best way to rule out other health problems that could be causing your cognitive issues,” Troyer says.

“If it turns out that you do have a significant problem with your memory, then early diagnosis along with science-based education and interventions will help you maintain your cognitive health and independence for as long as possible, and enable you and your family to plan for the care and support you’ll need in future.”

The test was designed by clinical neuropsychologists and cognition experts at Baycrest and its Rotman Research Institute. Three hundred men and women aged 50 to 79 were studied. The test was co-developed by Cogniciti Inc., a brain-health solutions company owned by Baycrest.

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