Comparison of cognitive functioning as measured by the Ruff Figural Fluency Test and the CogState computerized battery within the LifeLines Cohort Study
BACKGROUND: The Ruff Figural Fluency Test (RFFT; a pencil and paper test) and the CogState (a computerized cognitive test battery) are well-validated and suitable tests to evaluate cognitive functioning in large observational studies at the population level. The LifeLines Cohort Study includes the RFFT as baseline measurement and incorporated the CogState as replacement for the RFFT at follow-up. It is unknown how these two tests relate to each other. Therefore, the aim of this study is to examine the correlation between the RFFT and the CogState and the impact of demographic characteristics on this association.
METHODS: A subcohort of the LifeLines Cohort Study, a large population based cohort study, participated in this study. Correlations between the RFFT and six subtasks of the CogState were examined. Subgroup analyses were performed to investigate the influence of age, education, and gender on the results. With sensitivity analyses we investigated the influence of computer experience and (physical) impairments.
RESULTS: A total of 509 participants (mean age (SD): 53 years (14.6); range 18-87 years) participated in this study. All correlations between the RFFT and the CogState were statistically significant (except for the correlation between the RFFT error ratio and the CogState One Back Task), ranging from -0.39 to 0.28. Stratifying the analyses for age, education, and gender did not substantially affect our conclusions. Sensitivity analyses showed no substantial influence of level of computer experience or (physical) impairments.
CONCLUSIONS: Correlations found in the present study were only weak to moderate, indicating that cognitive functioning measured by the RFFT does not measure the same components of cognitive functioning as six subtasks of the CogState. Computerized testing such as the CogState may be very well suited for large cohort studies to assess cognitive functioning in the general population and to identify cognitive changes as early as possible, as it is a less time- and labor intensive tool.
KEYWORDS: Assessment; CogState; Cognition; Executive functions; Neuropsychological tests; Ruff Figural Fluency Test