Updated February 18, 2012    Research Abstracts

Cognitive Labs conducts research supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and other independent organizations on its tests and games, which is ongoing. The result is a substantial body of evidence showing sensitivity and effectiveness. In selecting cognitive training games, validated science is important. We combine a casual game experience with top-flight research, reflected in the regard for our games, with mentions in virtually every major media organization. Current ongoing (February, 2012) research is focused on the impact of antioxidants on cognition using one of our test batteries. Additional research on the effects of cognitive training on other aspects of aging are underway.

Sensitivity to Key Specific & Global Cognitive Domains

The Speed of your brain, or BrainSpeed is a critical measure of your cognitive vitality and can be improved. Cognitive Labs has  created games that are highly sensitive to slight variations in mental ability and are scientifically sound, down to the level of the genetic marker for Alzheimer's in one Stanford study.  This sensitivity is based on objective measurement and the unique high order and global cognitive challenge presented by our games which require cognitive processing through a relatively large brain area, thereby casting a larger net to detect any breakdown along the neural network pathways that Alzheimer's and earlier stages of cognitive impairment differentially attack. 

You can improve your performance through regular brain exercise. Our technology addresses a  broad range of Cognitive processes.

Some key studies:

Published: Journal of Psychiatric Research, February 2008

Slower Speed of Processing of Cognitive Tasks is Associated with the Presence of the Apolipoprotein E4 allele
Ruth O'Hara, Ph.D.,1 Barbara Sommer, M.D., 1 Helena C. Kraemer, Ph.D., 1Jerome Yesavage, M.D., 1,2 Joy Taylor, Ph.D., 1,2 Kevin Morgan, B.A., 1 and Greer Murphy, M.D., Ph.D. 1

Background:  Detection of preclinical cognitive deficits is important for identifying those at greatest risk for such disorders as Alzheimer's disease.  However, available neuropsychological measures may not be sufficiently sensitive to preclinical cognitive impairment, particularly in high functioning and younger older adults. This study utilizes a battery of computerized cognitive tests (Cognometer) designed to provide a more sensitive measure of age-related cognitive performance by incorporating speed of processing components. The Cognometer was employed to compare the performance of individuals with and without the E4 allele, a genetic risk factor for the development of cognitive decline and Alzheimer's Disease.

1 Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford University, Stanford, CA

2 VA Palo Alto Health Care System, Palo Alto, CA

Cognitive Labs tests, Brain Imaging & ApoE4 Pilot Study

Richard J. Haier, Ph.D., University of California, Irvine

Twenty normal volunteers (age 38-82 years old) were tested on five of the Cognitive Labs' tests of cognitive processing speed, and on psychometric tests often used to help make the diagnosis of Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI): the Mini Mental Status Exam (MMSE), the California Verbal Learning Test (CVLT) and the Wechsler Memory Scale (WMS). Each subject had previously completed positron emission tomography (PET) scans and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scans as part of another project. Each subject had also completed APOE4 determinations (a genetic risk factor for Alzheimer's disease). The primary purpose of this pilot study was to explore whether individuals flagged by the Cognitive Labs' tests for possible cognitive issues also showed signs of possible early dementia. On the basis of age normative data, the Cognitive Labs' flagged four individuals with poor scores. There was a statistically significant association between being flagged by the tests and being positive for the APOE4 marker. As a group, the four flagged subjects showed some decrease in glucose metabolic rate (GMR) as assessed by PET in the left superior temporal lobe and in the right cerebellum. This group of four individuals also showed gray matter decreases as assessed by MRI in the left frontal lobe and in the right cerebellum. Given the small sample sizes, these results are suggestive of what a larger study may find. Together with previous studies, these results contribute to the construct validity of the Cognitive Labs tests as a potential screening tool to find individuals who may be at preclinical stages of cognitive impairment

Note: Dr. Haier earlier had evaluated GMR under Tetris (c. 1991) 

Do Gamers Have Faster Brains?

Theoretical Study
Dr. Michael Addicott
Cognitive Labs

It has been speculated that dedicated gamers may have faster reaction times than ordinary average individuals, a hypothesis which has been supported by research in 2010. We conducted a study in 2005 to identify this research question and assist in the formulation of the hypothesis.  In order to attract a suitable research study group, a LAN party was used as the venue.   Twenty two gamers aged between 22 and 35 were conducted to a secure facility and immediately entered into competition using Halo2 as a stimulus. After appoximately 90 minutes of competition, the play was suspended and the player rankings were logged. At  the same workstations, user experience was immediately toggled over to the Cognitive Labs working memory and  recall games featuring speed of processing measures. The top quartile scored at or above the 99.9th percentile compared to 'norms' for all users. The second quartile scored above the 97th  percentile, The third above 95th and the fourth above 93. Data from four
respondents who became distracted was not included. The results suggest that gamers are indeed faster. Other studies imply an age-adjusted differential of up to 100 milliseconds in response time. The data shows that intense workouts can improve cognitive speed at any age, which is a measure that links very closely to life expectancy in several independent studies, notably those of Ian Drury which examine IQ, reaction time, and life expectancy. The conclusion includes the finding that there is a substantive link between  cognitive speed and and life expectancy, with the unknown variable being causality. Although the practice effect may account for some improvement up through a certain number of sessions (seven, for example) maintaining and enhancing cognitive speed and creating cognitive reserve appear to protect against the early onset of cognitive decline along with other diet and exercise approaches.

Presented at the Society of  Neuroscience Annual  Meeting,  2005:
Dietary Supplements can Improve Cognitive Performance in healthy adults. 
J. P. Kesslak1
Institute for Brain Aging and Dementia, University of California, Irvine1
Cognitive Labs

Cognitive function after administration of a combination of nutriceuticals (ie, huperzine-A, vinpocetine, pantothenic acid, DMAE, thiamin, niacinamide, acetyl-L carnitine, pyro glutamate) was assessed on a battery of psychometric tests (i.e., Cognometer).  Adult male and female subjects 35 years of age and older were recruited and assessed on the internet for baseline and over a 6-week treatment period.  The results indicate that a combination of dietary supplements can improve cognitive performance in healthy individuals, that computerized on-line testing is a viable means to conduct such studies, and that measures of processing speed (reaction time) are sensitive to short-term changes in cognitive performance.

Over 1000 individuals were recruited and qualified after answering a battery of screening questionnaires, with 440 subjects completing the 6-week trial. Screening items included age, gender, education, general health, medications, and cognitive function to include individuals in good general health and no history of behavioral or cognitive deficits

Cognometer:  Validation of a new keyboard-based reaction time measure

Andrew M. Johnson and Philip A. Vernon

Department of Psychology

The University of Western Ontario


The Cognometer is a commercially available reaction time testing suite that runs on PCs and Macs.  Consisting of ten cognitive tasks, it promises to be an easy-to-use and easy-to-score measure of cognitive speed and ability.  Given that it measures responses wholly by keyboard, it promises to be of tremendous importance to remote-testing situations, and in settings where external response consoles are not available or practical. It is important, however, to examine this reaction time measure in conjunction with other established reaction time measures.  Furthermore, it's potential for use in clinical settings makes an examination of its correlations with clinical measures of cognitive speed and memory of interest.  The present study discusses the psychometric characteristics of the 10 Cognometer tests, and presents comparisons with a battery of previously validated reaction time measures that use an external response console and timing device.  In addition to this, correlations are computed between the Cognometer test subscales/subtests and the Wechsler Memory Scale, to determine whether it measures similar constructs to this well-respected memory test.  Finally, the factor structure of Cognometer tests is evaluated, and a maximally weighted composite of its subscales is compared with the Raven's Advanced Progressive Matrices - a measure that is widely considered to be one of the better measures of general intelligence (g). Results suggested that the Cognometer tests are stable across time in both a short-term test-re-test scenario, and in a repeated practice scenario.  Furthermore, the Cognometer tests demonstrated significant correlations to the scales of the Wechsler Memory Scale, and to the previously validated reaction time measures.  These results suggest that test batteries such as the Cognometer may represent a potential resource for researchers and clinicians.

Reaction Time but not Performance on Cognitive Tasks Identifies Individuals At Risk for Alzheimer's Disease: A Preliminary Report

 Ruth O'Hara, Ph.D., Barbara Sommer, Ph.D., Kevin Morgan, B.A.,

 Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford University, Stanford, CA


Objective:  To compare the performance of individuals with and without the e4 allele on a battery of cognitive tests designed to detect subtle differences in cognitive performance. 

Design:  Performance on a computerized battery of cognitive tests (the Cognometer), and standard neuropsychological tests, of 10 older adults with the e3/e4 genotype was compared to that of 17 older adults with the e3/e3 genotype.

Setting: Aging Clinical Research Center, Stanford University.

Participants: 27 community-dwelling older adults were recruited from a pool of 120 individuals who already had participated four to five years earlier in a memory training study and a five-year, follow-up study.  These individuals were originally recruited through newspaper advertisements and contacts with local senior centers.  The 27 subjects who agreed to participate in this investigation were between 62 and 85 years of age.

Measurements: Subjects were administered a computerized battery of cognitive tasks, the Cognometer tests, which measure verbal and spatial memory, working memory, attention, speed-of-processing, and visuo-spatial abilities. Additionally, subjects were administered a subset of neuropsychological tests which had been administered at baseline and at the five-year follow-up testing. APOE genotype had been determined at the previous follow-up.

Results: Demographically, there were no differences between the e3/e4 and e3/e3 subjects. The two groups did not differ significantly on any of the neuropsychological measures. With respect to performance on the Cognometer battery of tasks, the two groups did not differ in terms of their physical reflex reaction time.  Additionally, with respect to accuracy, the two groups did not differ significantly except on the measure of immediate memory, with the e3/e4 group exhibiting higher numbers of errors.  However, the subjects positive for the e4 allele were significantly slower in performing all of the Cognometer memory and working memory tasks. 

Conclusion:  Reaction time performance on the memory tests of the Cognometer battery was able to differentiate the performance of subjects positive for the e4 allele from those without the e4 allele.  This study suggests that reaction time performance on the Cognometer test battery may be able to detect subtle cognitive deficits in older adults.  Implications of the use of such measures for the identification of early cognitive decline in older adults are discussed.

 Early Detection of Dementia in the Elderly

J. Patrick Kesslak, Ph.D.

Institute for Brain Aging and Dementia

Department of Neurology

University of California, Irvine

The early detection of cognitive impairments is essential as the aged population increases.  A computerized test battery, the Cognometer, was used to assess 26 volunteers, 47 years of age or older for perceptual ability, memory and response speed.  Results were compared to standardized tests for memory, language, visual-spatial, frontal lobe and global cognitive function.  In general, the number of errors and variability on the Cognometer increased with reaction time. Age alone was not a significant factor.  The highest correlations were between the Cognometer tests and Logical Memory, which is sensitive to age-related cognitive change and dementia.  High correlations were observed between Cognometer perceptual/spatial tasks with WAIS III Block Design and Similarities, and may be sensitive to parietal and frontal lobe function.  Memory and spatial ability are closely associated with hippocampal function, a structure often compromised early in dementia such as Alzheimer's disease.  This study provides an estimate of the utility for the Cognometer to detect early cognitive changes in excess of normal age-related changes or associated with the onset of dementia.


Our technology and web service combines disciplines: education, neuroscience, computer science, and genetics, and  ECTs, or Elementary Cognitive Tasks.  Cognitive Labs'  technology has received U.S. 2 patents, with one pending and several under development. Recent research has been concentrated at Stanford University and has resulted in published journal articles in the area of cognitive impairment and genetics, as well as several invited presentations at the premiere neuropsychological conferences. Our new research page lets you to explore and learn more about the technology. We develop and grow extensible web services while we release new mind-related games, and from time-to-time license to 3rd parties for specific purposes, such as enabling purchasers of Natrol (Nasdaq:NTOL) BrainSpeedTM a naturally ocurring Huperzine-A compound to track changes (2005-2007) in their cognitive performance. Midway through 2007, we licensed our technology for use by a major pharmaceutical company in the neurological field.     


Partially supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), research has been completed at Stanford UniversityUniversity of Calfornia, Irvine; and the Scripps Research Institute. Other institutions include  University of Western Ontario, and the Swinburne University. Our studies involve use of patent-protected speed-of-processing exercises for the brain in numerous domains including community-dwelling older adults, students, clinical trials, individuals receiving MRI therapy; and at E3,  'gamers' playing Halo 2 concurrently with the ECTs. 


If you are actively using our games and tests in Scientific research, as part of a Psychology Lab, or in other aspects of Neuroscience please let us know. We have found in existence a global community of "cognitive hackers" using our tests for all kinds of scientific studies due to their portability and accuracy, in addition to the training and entertainment value.

We know about various uses in institutions including:

  • The University of Missouri (attentiveness and reaction time)
  • Albert Einstein College of Medicine, NY
  • Columbia University , NY
  • Stanford
  • University of California, Berkeley
  • Baylor University
  • Oregon Institute of Health Sciences
  • University of Dublin, Ireland
  • Karolinska Institute, Stockholm
(the list above is not exhaustive)


A fun way to stay in touch with Cognitive Labs is to get our blog posts in your inbox. There is a new way to do that, below

Global Cognitive Map - Participate

1. Memory and Brain Speed

Tests for My Memory | Games for My Memory

2. My Attention and Brain Speed

Test for Attention | Tetst for Focus and Concentration | Games for Attention

3. My Genes

Our genes, as encoded in our DNA strands, form a kind of blueprint or program for who we are. Scientists are beginning to understand how genes contain clues to ills or diseases we may face later on in life. For memory, there is a particular gene known as APOE that scientists have discovered  tells us our risk for memory loss. Some people have APOE types that are at increased risk compared to others, such  as the APOEe4-allele gene, which carries a significantly greater risk for Memory Loss due to Alzheimer's, and a greater chance of suffering  from early Memory Loss. Scientists believe that APOEe4-an early human gene, is more effective at metabolizing fats in a scarce environment, but in today's nutrient-rich society can lead to difficulties. Our diet and lifestyle may be causing a bug, if you will, in our genetic program. Finding out about your genes can be a good idea, for Memory Loss and a variety of other potential illnesses including heart disease.

4. Games

People of all ages enjoy playing games. Our goal at Cognitive Labs is to provide the widest variety and selection of cognitive games anywhere - both developed by us and also independent game developers. These games fit  with regular test-taking and exercising and your other online activities including searching, reading news, and checking email.  Feel free to bookmark the pages after you sign up. If you are interested in joining our developer progrram, simply email us.

5. Ages

The games and tests can be enjoyed by anyone. Many of our users interested in memory are 35 and over; our casual game users range in age from college-age to over 100.  Some features, games and tests are likely to appeal to some segments of our membership more than others. You have veto power, you can also rank tests and games. We add and remove games based on user suggestion.
Click on the Age group that describes you:
Some content areas:

Questions on Memory Loss and Alzheimer's
Test Center
Memory TV alpha - Select Picture Groups that play on your computer automatically.
Research participation
Expert Links:

Mayo Clinic
Stanford/VA Alzheimer Center
Alzheimer's Association



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