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Over the past 35 years, the proliferation of technology and the advent of the internet have resulted in many reliable and easy to administer batteries for assessing cognitive function. These approaches have great potential for affecting how the health care system monitors and screens for cognitive changes in the aging population. Here, we review these new technologies with a specific emphasis on what they offer over and above traditional ‘paper-and-pencil’ approaches to assessing cognitive function. Key advantages include fully automated administration and scoring, the interpretation of individual scores within the context of thousands of normative data points, the inclusion of ‘meaningful change’ and ‘validity’ indices based on these large norms, more efficient testing, increased sensitivity, and the possibility of characterising cognition in samples drawn from the general population that may contain hundreds of thousands of test scores. The relationship between these new computerized platforms and existing (and commonly used) paper-and-pencil tests is explored, with a particular emphasis on why computerized tests are particularly advantageous for assessing the cognitive changes associated with aging.
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