Measurement of Reaction Time in the Home for People With Dementia: A Feasibility Study

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Abstract

Background:

Cognitive decline is the cardinal symptom of dementia. Accurate measurement of changes in cognition, while essential for testing interventions to slow cognitive decline, can be challenging in people with dementia (PWD). For example, the laboratory environment may cause anxiety and negatively affect performance. Material and

Method:

In healthy people, researchers measure one aspect of cognition, attention, via assessing reaction times in a laboratory environment. This repeated-measures study investigated the feasibility of reaction time measurement in participants' homes using the computerized psychomotor vigilance task (PVT) for PWD. Research questions were (a) Can laboratory controls be replicated in the home? (b) Where do PWD perform PVT trials optimally? and (c) What are the preferences of PWD and their caregivers? Two groups that differed by sequence of testing location completed 12 reaction time assessments over 2 days. Caregiver and person with dementia dyad preferences were examined in a follow-up phone interview.

Results:

Complete data were collected from 14 dyads. Although there were slight differences in lighting between settings, the time of day, temperature, and sound did not differ. There were no significant differences in PVT performance between the two locations, but the group who tested in the home on Day 1 performed better than the group who tested in the lab on Day 1. All participants preferred home examination.

Discussion:

It is feasible to measure reaction times in the home. Home testing contributes to optimal performance and participants preferred the home.

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