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PLoS One. 2019 Apr 12;14(4):e0215203. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0215203. eCollection 2019.

Feasibility of a web-based neurocognitive battery for assessing cognitive function in critical illness survivors.

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Department of Medicine, Western University, London, Ontario, Canada.
Faculty of Science, Western University, London, Ontario, Canada.
Brain and Mind Institute, Western University, London, Ontario, Canada.
Department of Medical Biophysics, Western University, London, Ontario, Canada.



To assess the feasibility of using a widely validated, web-based neurocognitive test battery (Cambridge Brain Sciences, CBS) in a cohort of critical illness survivors.


We conducted a prospective observational study in two intensive care units (ICUs) at two tertiary care hospitals. Twenty non-delirious ICU patients who were mechanically ventilated for a minimum of 24 hours underwent cognitive testing using the CBS battery. The CBS consists of 12 cognitive tests that assess a broad range of cognitive abilities that can be categorized into three cognitive domains: reasoning skills, short-term memory, and verbal processing. Patients underwent cognitive assessment while still in the ICU (n = 13) or shortly after discharge to ward (n = 7). Cognitive impairment on each test was defined as a raw score that was 1.5 or more standard deviations below age- and sex-matched norms from healthy controls.


We found that all patients were impaired on at least two tests and 18 patients were impaired on at least three tests. ICU patients had poorer performance on all three cognitive domains relative to healthy controls. We identified testing related fatigue due to battery length as a feasibility issue of the CBS test battery.


Use of a web-based patient-administered cognitive test battery is feasible and can be used in large-scale studies to identify domain-specific cognitive impairment in critical illness survivors and the temporal course of recovery over time.

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Conflict of interest statement

Competing Interests: I have read the journal’s policy and can confirm our previously submitted Competing Interests as follows: Dr. Adrian M. Owen holds shares in Cambridge Brain Sciences Inc, which markets the Cambridge Brain Sciences battery of tests. As the tests are made available to all members of the Western academic community through a free-licensing agreement, the current study involved no financial compensation to any party. The other authors report no conflicts of interest. In addition to the aforementioned Competing Interests, I can confirm that this does not alter our adherence to all PLOS ONE policies on sharing data and materials.

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