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Assessment/Enhancement of Cognitive Ability in Older Adults. Karlene Ball Center for Research on Applied Gerontology University of Alabama at Birmingham. Basic Research. Applied Research. Translational Research. Roybal Center. Assessment of Driving Competence

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assessment enhancement of cognitive ability in older adults

Assessment/Enhancement of Cognitive Ability in Older Adults

Karlene Ball

Center for Research on Applied Gerontology

University of Alabama at Birmingham


Basic Research

Applied Research



roybal center
Roybal Center
  • Assessment of Driving Competence
  • Impact of Cognitive Interventions on Driving Competence and other everyday activities
1990 study
1990 Study
  • Case Control study of 306 older drivers
  • 5 Hour Assessment Battery
    • Visual sensory function
    • Useful Field of View
    • Cognitive function
    • Physical function
    • Medications
    • Health history
    • Ophthalmological exam

Relationship Between UFOV® Reduction and Crashes

Ball et al. (1993). Visual Attention Problems as a Predictor of Vehicle Crashes in Older Drivers, Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science, 34, 3110-3123.

useful field of view
Useful Field of View
  • The Useful Field of View is defined as the area from which one can extract visual information in a single glance without eye or head movement. While it is a test of visual attention, it is also sensitive to visual impairment.

The limits of this area are affected by:

    • Visual sensory function
    • Slower processing ability
    • Difficulty dividing attention
    • Difficulty ignoring distraction

Welcome to UFOV Test 1

This exercise will measure how fast you can identify a single object.

Touch continue for a demonstration


Welcome to UFOV Test 2

This exercise will measure how fast you can divide your attention between two objects.

Touch continue for a demonstration


Welcome to UFOV Test 3

This exercise will measure how fast you can divide your attention between two objects when the outside object is surrounded by clutter.

Touch continue for a demonstration

ufov is highly predictive of crash involvement in older drivers
Older drivers with a 40% or greater impairment in the useful field of view (as measured by UFOV®) are 2.2 times more likely to incur a crash over the next three years than other drivers.

Owsley, Ball, McGwin, et al. (1998). Visual Processing Impairment and Risk of Motor Vehicle Crash Among Older Adults, JAMA, 279, 1083-1088.

UFOV® Is Highly Predictive of Crash Involvement in Older Drivers

Risk for Injurious and Non-Injurious Crashes by % UFOV® Reduction

Injurious Non-injurious Non-crash

(N=78) (N=101) (N=115)

% OR CI % OR CI %

<23 7.7 1.0 Ref. 19.8 1.0 Ref 47.0

23-40 26.95.3 1.9-14 29.7 2.3 1.1-4.5 31.3

41-60 37.216.3 5.8-36 27.0 4.6 2.1-10.1 13.9

>60 28.222.0 7.0-69 23.4 7.1 2.9-17.5 7.8

Owsley, C., McGwin, G., & Ball, K. (1998). Vision Impairment, Eye Disease, and Injurious Motor Vehicle Crashes in the Elderly, Ophthalmic Epidemiology, 5, 101-113.

ufov reduction and alzheimer s disease
UFOV® Reduction and Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Another study demonstrated that 30% of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease AND UFOV® impairment experienced “crashes” in a driving simulator, whereas no participant without UFOV® impairment crashed, with or without AD.
  • UFOV® impairment was an even stronger predictor of simulator crashes than the diagnosis of AD (OR = 18.13 for UFOV®; OR = 8.91 for AD)

Rizzo, Reinach, McGehee, & Dawson (1997). Simulated car crashes and crash predictors in drivers with Alzheimer’s disease. Archives of Neurology, 54: 545-51

implications for caregivers
Implications for Caregivers
  • Caregivers of patients with AD might wish to avail themselves of driving assessment clinics or other evaluation services using tools such as the computer-based UFOV® assessment.
roybal center renewal
Roybal Center Renewal
  • Maryland Field Study -- Collaborative
  • Impact of Cognitive Training on Everyday Abilities -- Collaborative
maryland results
Maryland Results
  • Those who failed the UFOV screening test were 2.72 times (2.45 after adjusting for all other variables in the model) more likely to have a motor vehicle crash over the next two years.
  • Longitudinal evaluation of 2200 individuals using an entirely automated screening procedure.
cognitive intervention
Cognitive Intervention
  • Speed of Processing training has been shown in multiple studies to result in:
    • Fewer dangerous maneuvers while driving
    • Improved hazard detection in simulations
    • Faster reaction times to road signs
    • Increased mobility
    • Improved Timed IADLs
active advanced cognitive training for independent and vital elderly randomized clinical trial
ACTIVE Advanced Cognitive Training for Independent and Vital Elderly Randomized Clinical Trial

ACTIVE’s primary aim was to test the effectiveness and durability of three distinct cognitive interventions in improving the performance of elderly persons on basic measures of cognition and on measures of cognitively demanding daily activities.


Three cognitive training interventions:

  • Speed of Processing
  • Reasoning
  • Memory
could intervention help with daily activities
Could intervention help with daily activities?
  • Do improvements in cognitive skills significantly improve everyday abilities such as preparing food or handling medications?
  • Does intervention help with driving tasks?
initial training effects
Initial Training Effects
  • Each intervention reliably improved the targeted cognitive ability at post test in:
    • 87% of Speed trained
    • 74% of Reasoning trained
    • 26% of Memory trained
booster training effects
Booster Training Effects
  • Booster training enhanced performance of Speed and Reasoning participants
  • Cognitive gains were maintained for 2 years, particularly among booster participants

Primary Result

Expected Decline

Training Gains

  • Training gains were comparable with, or greater than, the amount of decline that has been reported in previous studies over a 7 - 14 year period among older adults without dementia.
impact on daily activities
Impact on Daily Activities

Only found transfer of training to everyday abilities for those in the speed booster group.

Since all participants were living independently, and most were functioning quite well at the outset of the study, only time will tell if those who received training will experience less decline in their daily living skills in the future.

associated projects
Associated Projects
  • Home-Based Training
  • Physician Education
  • Multi-disciplinary Driving Clinic
  • The Psychological Corporation
  • Departments of Motor Vehicles
  • Medical Advisory Boards
  • Medical Community
  • AARP
  • Automobile Manufacturers
  • Insurance Companies