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TasTest: moving towards a digital screening test for pre-clinical Alzheimer’s disease


Alty, J and Bai, Q and St George, RJ and Bindoff, A and Li, R and Lawler, K and Hill, E and Garg, G and Bartlett, L and King, AE and Vickers, JC, TasTest: moving towards a digital screening test for pre-clinical Alzheimer's disease, Biomarkers ISSN 1354-750X (2021) [Conference Extract]

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DOI: doi:10.1002/alz.058732



There is urgent need to develop population-level digital biomarkers that can detect Alzheimer’s disease (AD) across the continuum, including the preclinical phase. This would allow risk stratification for specialist tests and early recruitment to clinical trials. Motor function declines in the preclinical phase but there has been little exploration of digital motor biomarkers. We have developed ‘TasTest’, an online test that assesses multiple cognitive domains, including movement. The aim of this study was to compare performance on TasTest with subtests of the Cambridge Neuropsychological Test Battery (CANTAB), a validated digital measure of cognitive decline, and determine how performance on the TasTest items varies with age in a large community sample of older adults.


The TasTest items include measures of motor control (speed and coordination of keyboard tapping), processing speed (single and choice reaction time), attention and visual perception (identification of an animal in a distorted image), and visuospatial memory (identifying features from delayed recall of a complex figure). A total of 510 adults aged over 50 years (30% male; mean 65.5 years; SD 7.36), performed TasTest and CANTAB online assessments in their homes. We compared performance on TasTest items to performance on the Paired Associates Learning (PAL) task, which has been previously validated as predictive of accelerated cognitive decline (Barnett et al. 2015, Current Topics in Behavioral Neurosciences, vol 28, Springer, Cham).


All TasTest items were significantly associated with PAL scores except the total number of correct responses on the reaction time tasks (Table 1). Several TasTest items had stronger correlations with age than the PAL, these included the keyboard tapping tasks, the number of correctly identified animals on the distorted image, and both simple and choice reaction times (Figure 1).


Older people were able to readily complete TasTest tasks remotely from their homes, and performance on most items was significantly associated with scores on a previously validated test of cognition, and correlated with age. TasTest shows potential as a non-invasive, scalable dementia screening tool.

Item Details

Item Type:Conference Extract
Keywords:COMPUTER VISION, artificial intelligence, preclinical Alzheimer's, dementia
Research Division:Biomedical and Clinical Sciences
Research Group:Neurosciences
Research Field:Central nervous system
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Specific population health (excl. Indigenous health)
Objective Field:Health related to ageing
UTAS Author:Alty, J (Associate Professor Jane Alty)
UTAS Author:Bai, Q (Dr Quan Bai)
UTAS Author:St George, RJ (Dr Rebecca St George)
UTAS Author:Bindoff, A (Mr Aidan Bindoff)
UTAS Author:Li, R (Mr Renjie Li)
UTAS Author:Lawler, K (Dr Katherine Lawler)
UTAS Author:Hill, E (Dr Eddy Roccati)
UTAS Author:Garg, G (Dr Saurabh Garg)
UTAS Author:Bartlett, L (Mrs Larissa Bartlett)
UTAS Author:King, AE (Professor Anna King)
UTAS Author:Vickers, JC (Professor James Vickers)
ID Code:148457
Year Published:2021
Funding Support:National Health and Medical Research Council (2004051)
Deposited By:Wicking Dementia Research and Education Centre
Deposited On:2022-01-13
Last Modified:2022-01-17

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