September 27, 2019
1 min read

Mobile games may help infer cognitive performance

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Swipe speed and length during mobile game play were linked to cognitive performance in visual search, mental flexibility and response inhibition among healthy younger adults, according to a paper presented at the 2019 ACM International Joint Conference on Pervasive and Ubiquitous Computing.

“Computerized assessments have been investigated in a number of studies, arguing the capacity to generate random stimuli and capture highly accurate in task measures of performance as key advantages,” Chee Siang Ang, PhD, from University of Kent’s School of Engineering and Digital Arts, England, and colleagues wrote. However, the potential lack of motivation to carry out boring and repetitive tasks could discourage users from taking frequent assessments as needed to monitor their condition continuously.”

Instead, using a game-based assessment could improve participant engagement and possibly reduce test anxiety, according to the researchers.

Ang and colleagues examined links between the way 20 young adults played popular mobile games with different game mechanisms and cognitive demands to determine whether gestural interaction and device-motion parameters plus gameplay data could help determine cognitive abilities.

Participants underwent standard paper-based cognitive assessment tests, followed by 10-minute sessions of playing Tetris, Candy Crush Saga and Fruit Ninja over two separate periods, according to the press release. Researchers used the sensors built into the phones to collect data on how participants gestured, tapped and swiped as well as their levels of cognitive performance.

Bivariate analysis revealed associations between touch-based features and cognitive performance scores obtained from paper-based assessments. Specifically, the investigators reported that swipe speed and swipe length were significantly tied to cognitive performance in visual search, mental flexibility and response inhibition.

“We are very encouraged by the results of our study and have since collected data from patients who showed signs of brain damage,” Ang said in the press release. “We're now working to design an algorithm which can carry out automatic monitoring of individuals' cognitive performance while playing these games.” – by Savannah Demko


Intarasirisawat J, et al. Exploring the Touch and Motion Features in Game-Based Cognitive Assessments. Presented at: 2019 ACM International Joint Conference on Pervasive and Ubiquitous Computing; Sept. 11-13; London.

Disclosure: Healio Psychiatry was unable to confirm any relevant financial disclosures at the time of publication.