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Brain Behav. 2013 Sep;3(5):552-61. doi: 10.1002/brb3.158. Epub 2013 Aug 2.

High-throughput cognitive assessment using BrainTest.org: examining cognitive control in a family cohort.

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1
Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior Brain Research Institute David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California Los Angeles, California.

Abstract

Introduction Understanding the relationship between brain and complex latent behavioral constructs like cognitive control will require an inordinate amount of data. Internet-based methods can rapidly and efficiently refine behavioral measures in very large samples that are needed for genetics and behavioral research. Cognitive control is a multifactorial latent construct that is considered to be an endophenotype in numerous neuropsychiatric disorders, including attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). While previous studies have demonstrated high correlations between Web- and lab-based scores, skepticism remains for its broad implementation. Methods Here, we promote a different approach by characterizing a completely Web-recruited and tested community family sample on measures of cognitive control. We examine the prevalence of attention deficit symptoms in an online community sample of adolescents, demonstrate familial correlations in cognitive control measures, and use construct validation techniques to validate our high-throughput assessment approach. Results A total of 1214 participants performed Web-based tests of cognitive control with over 200 parent-child pairs analyzed as part of the primary study aims. The data show a wide range of "subclinical" symptomatology in a web community sample of adolescents that supports a dimensional view of attention and also provide preliminary narrow-sense heritability estimates for commonly used working memory and response inhibition tests. Conclusions Finally, we show strong face and construct validity for these measures of cognitive control that generally exceeds the evidence required of new lab-based measures. We discuss these results and how broad implementation of this platform may allow us to uncover important brain-behavior relationships quickly and efficiently.

KEYWORDS:

Cognitive control; WWW; inattention; spatial working memory; symptoms

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