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Unsupervised, frequent and remote: A novel platform for personalised digital phenotyping of long-term memory in humans

Bauza, Marius; Krstulovic, Marino; Krupic, Julija; (2023) Unsupervised, frequent and remote: A novel platform for personalised digital phenotyping of long-term memory in humans. PLoS One , 18 (4) , Article e0284220. 10.1371/journal.pone.0284220. Green open access

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Abstract

Long-term memory tests are commonly used to facilitate the diagnosis of hippocampal-related neurological disorders such as Alzheimer's disease due to their relatively high specificity and sensitivity to damage to the medial temporal lobes compared to standard commonly used clinical tests. Pathological changes in Alzheimer's disease start years before the formal diagnosis is made, partially due to testing too late. This proof-of-concept exploratory study aimed to assess the feasibility of introducing an unsupervised digital platform for continuous testing of long-term memory over long periods outside the laboratory environment. To address this challenge, we developed a novel digital platform, hAge ('healthy Age'), which integrates double spatial alternation, image recognition and visuospatial tasks for frequent remote unsupervised assessment of spatial and non-spatial long-term memory carried out continuously over eight week period. To demonstrate the feasibility of our approach, we tested whether we could achieve sufficient levels of adherence and whether the performance on hAge tasks is comparable to the performance observed in the analogous standard tests measured in the controlled laboratory environments.191 healthy adults (67% females, 18-81 years old) participated in the study. We report an estimated 42.4% adherence level with minimal inclusion criteria. In line with findings using standard laboratory tests, we showed that performance on the spatial alternation task negatively correlated with inter-trial periods and the performance levels on image recognition and visuospatial tasks could be controlled by varying image similarity. Importantly, we demonstrated that frequent engagement with the double spatial alternation task leads to a strong practice effect, previously identified as a potential measure of cognitive decline in MCI patients. Finally, we discuss how lifestyle and motivation confounds may present a serious challenge for cognitive assessment in real-world uncontrolled environments.

Type: Article
Title: Unsupervised, frequent and remote: A novel platform for personalised digital phenotyping of long-term memory in humans
Location: United States
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0284220
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0284220
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright: © 2023 Bauza et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Keywords: Adolescent, Adult, Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Female, Humans, Male, Middle Aged, Young Adult, Alzheimer Disease, Cognitive Dysfunction, Memory, Long-Term, Neuropsychological Tests, Recognition, Psychology, Proof of Concept Study
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology > UK Dementia Research Institute
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10180202
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