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A New Remote Guided Method for Supervised Web-Based Cognitive Testing to Ensure High Quality Data

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Leong, Victoria 
Raheel, Kausar 
Sim, Jia Yi 
Kacker, Kriti 
Karlaftis, Vasilis M 


Background. The global COVID-19 pandemic has triggered a fundamental reexamination of how human psychological research can be conducted both safely and robustly in a new era of digital working and physical distancing. Online web-based testing has risen to the fore as a promising solution for rapid mass collection of cognitive data without requiring human contact. However, a long-standing debate exists over the data quality and validity of web-based studies. Here, we examine the opportunities and challenges afforded by the societal shift toward web-based testing, highlight an urgent need to establish a standard data quality assurance framework for online studies, and develop and validate a new supervised online testing methodology, remote guided testing (RGT). Methods. A total of 85 healthy young adults were tested on 10 cognitive tasks assessing executive functioning (flexibility, memory and inhibition) and learning. Tasks were administered either face-to-face in the laboratory (N=41) or online using remote guided testing (N=44), delivered using identical web-based platforms (CANTAB, Inquisit and i-ABC). Data quality was assessed using detailed trial-level measures (missed trials, outlying and excluded responses, response times), as well as overall task performance measures. Results. The results indicated that, across all measures of data quality and performance, RGT data was statistically-equivalent to data collected in person in the lab. Moreover, RGT participants out-performed the lab group on measured verbal intelligence, which could reflect test environment differences, including possible effects of mask-wearing on communication. Conclusions. These data suggest that the RGT methodology could help to ameliorate concerns regarding online data quality and - particularly for studies involving high-risk or rare cohorts - offer an alternative for collecting high-quality human cognitive data without requiring in-person physical attendance.



COVID-19, executive functions, learning, neurocognitive assessment, web-based testing, COVID-19, Humans, Internet, Neuropsychological Tests, Pandemics, SARS-CoV-2, Young Adult

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Journal of Medical Internet Research

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JMIR Publications Inc.
European Commission (290011)
Wellcome Trust (205067/Z/16/Z)
National Research Foundation Singapore (via Cambridge Centre for Advanced Research and Education in Singapore (CARES)) (NRF-CLIC)
Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BB/P021255/1)
European Commission Horizon 2020 (H2020) Marie Sk?odowska-Curie actions (765121)
European Commission Horizon 2020 (H2020) Marie Sk?odowska-Curie actions (840271)
Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (H012508 and BB/P021255/1). Wellcome Trust (205067/Z/16/Z).
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