February 26, 2018

(SAN FRANCISCO, CA) – The highly-authoritative and widely-used UFOV® cognitive assessment was invented in the age of 8-inch floppy disks, but has now joined the 21st century as an online assessment tool — from Posit Science, the maker of BrainHQ brain exercises and assessments —  that can predict car crash risk and can measure other cognitive abilities.

The UFOV assessment was originally developed some 30 years ago by Dr. Karlene Ball and Dr. Dan Roenker to measure a person’s “useful field of view” – the amount of visual information a person can take in with a glance (without eye or head movements).  The size of that useful field – from the periphery through the center of gaze to the opposite periphery – generally declines with age or cognitive impairment, as a person’s processing speed slows and the size of the useful field of view shrinks.

Although originally developed for purely scientific purposes, the UFOV assessment has been put to use in a wide variety of practical settings. A series of studies involving thousands of participants has shown that the UFOV assessment is the single most accurate way to measure a driver’s risk of having a car crash – more sensitive than traditional eye charts or visual field tests. As a result, it is frequently used to assess driving abilities in normal cognitive aging, as well as in patients with pre-dementia, dementia, Parkinson’s, traumatic brain injuries, multiple sclerosis, stroke and other cognitive impairments. It also is used to predict fall and other physical mobility risks (involving gait speed and distracted gait).

In recent years, the UFOV assessment has been increasingly used as a neuropsychological test to measure brain processing speed and attention — and as a proxy for overall cognitive condition, since decrements in the elemental abilities of speed and attention can provide an early indication of future cognitive problems.

The UFOV assessment, which typically is administered by occupational therapists, psychologists, and other health professionals, has three parts. The first measures the ability to make distinctions in the center of gaze at high speed. The second measures divided attention by prompting the user to make rapid distinctions in the center of gaze, while using selective attention to correctly locate a target on the periphery. The third test adds a measure of visual contrast, by introducing distractors along with the target on the periphery.

The new online version of the UFOV assessment incorporates the original three tests, and even maintains the 8-bit “look and feel” of the original assessment. It was produced by Posit Science in consultation with the inventors.

Fortunately, the inventors of the UFOV assessment took their invention a crucial step further – developing some of the earliest neuroplasticity-based, computerized brain training, which has since been shown to improve speed and attention and to expand the useful field of view.

Studies show the training, which is exclusively available on the BrainHQ training platform improves standard measures of cognition and generalizes to real world activities – including better balance and gait, fewer car crashes, and a better ability to continue to live independently.

“We are honored to shepherd the UFOV assessment into the online world,” said Dr. Henry Mahncke, CEO of Posit Science. “We have been diligent about maintaining the assessment’s validity, while also making it much easier to administer and to track results. Also, by coupling UFOV testing with training, a health professional can not only measure performance, but can give each patient the opportunity to improve cognitive abilities and many health and life outcomes.”

More information about the new online UFOV assessment can be found on the BrainHQ website.