Jakob Eg Larsen and Yoni Donner on Cognitive Measurements

August 4, 2012

Another breakout session preview for the upcoming QS conference: feel free to connect with the leaders in the comments!

Here are Jakob Eg Larsen and Yoni Donner, who have both created tools for quantifying mental performance, describing their session “Cognitive Measurements:”

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Measuring cognitive functions is difficult but provides a much richer understanding of ourselves compared to single-dimension measurements (such as steps taken, heart-rate and weight) that have been the primary focus of the QS community.

One approach to measuring cognitive functions is behavioral: inferring cognitive state from our actions and our ability to respond to stimuli. This lies at the heart of traditional psychometrics, the field of psychology concerned with such measurements. Unfortunately, traditional psychometrics mostly focused on measuring differences between individuals, treating a person as a single data point and comparing them to the general population. In QS, we care about within-person variation: how do our cognitive functions vary at different times and how does this variance relate to our actions? This kind of knowledge can lead us to choose actions that lead to desired cognitive outcomes.

Quantified Mind is a tool designed specifically for measuring within-person variation in cognitive abilities and learning which actions we can take to influence our cognitive functions. In other words, what makes you smarter? It uses short and engaging cognitive tests that are based on many years of academic research but modified to be short, repeatable and adaptive. Quantified Mind can be used by any individual to learn about their own brains, and also invites users to participate in structured experiments that examine common factors such as diet, exercise and sleep.

In the session we will also briefly discuss the ‘Smartphone brain scanner’ — a low-cost portable cognitive measuring device that can be used to continuously monitor and record the electrical activity (EEG) along the scalp in order to determine different states of brain activity in everyday natural settings. The system uses an off-the- shelf low-cost wireless Emotiv EPOC neuroheadset with 14 electrodes, which is connected wirelessly to a smartphone. The smartphone receives the EEG data with a sampling rate of 128 Hz and software on the smartphone then performs a complex real-time analysis in order to do brain state decoding.

Please join us to discuss these topics, and bring your questions and engaged minds!

 

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