TabCAT Tasks

The tools available on TabCAT include cognitive tests of executive function (including NIH EXAMINER subtests), memory, language, motor skills and visuospatial skills, as well as symptom questionnaires.

Cognitive Domains

TabCAT Tasks by Cognitive Domain

Executive Function

Dot Counting (working memory) – 5 minutes

Dot Counting is a test of verbal working memory and is modeled after NIH EXAMINER Dot Counting. The examinee is asked to look at a screen with a mixed array of green circles, blue circles, and blue squares. The examinee is asked to count the blue circles on the screen one at a time out loud and remember the final total. Once the examinee finishes counting the blue circles, the examiner shows the next screen, which includes a new display of green circles, blue circles, and blue squares. The examinee is instructed to count the blue circles on the new display.

The number of different displays presented to the examinee per trial increases from 2 to 7 across the 6 experimental trials. At the end of each trial, the examinee is asked to recall the total number of blue circles that were counted per display in the order in which they were presented. Credit is given based on how many total counts the examinee can recall correctly from each trial.

Flanker (inhibition) – 4 minutes

Flanker is a test of cognitive control and inhibition and is modeled after NIH EXAMINER Flanker. A row of 5 arrows is presented in the center of the screen. The examinee is required to indicate whether the centrally presented arrow is pointing either to the left or right by pressing the left or right arrow key on the screen. The examinee is presented with 2 different conditions during the task, incongruent and congruent. In the congruent trials, the non-target arrows point in the same direction as the target arrow. In the incongruent trials, the non-target arrows point in the opposite direction of the target arrow. Examinees are encouraged to respond as quickly and accurately as possible.

Match (processing speed) – 3 minutes

Match is the test of processing speed and executive functions and is modeled after the WAIS-III Digit Symbol Coding paradigm. The examinee is shown a fixed legend of numbers 1 through 7 with corresponding simple, abstract pictures that appear just below each number, as well as in a different order along the bottom of the screen. The examinee is instructed that each time a number appears in the middle of the screen, they should tap the corresponding picture at the bottom of the screen as quickly as possible. After each response, a new number appears.

Running Dots (spatial working memory) – 4 minutes

Running Dots is a test of spatial working memory developed as an alternative to the NIH EXAMINER N-back task. Examinees watch as a series of dots are displayed one by one in various locations on a 16-square grid, then recall the last 2–5 locations where a dot appeared, depending on the condition. 1-6 leading dots precede each set of “target dots” that the examinee is instructed to remember (ex. “remember the location of the last two dots you see”). There are 3 trials for each condition. Partial credit is given for each dot location correctly identified.

Set Shifting – 5 minutes

Set Shifting is a test of set shifting skills and is modeled after the NIH EXAMINER Set Shifting task. During each trial, examinees are required to match a stimulus on the top of the screen to one of two stimuli in the lower corners of the screen. In task-homogeneous blocks, examinees perform either Task A (e.g., classifying shapes) or Task B (e.g., classifying colors). In task-heterogeneous blocks, examinees alternate between the two tasks pseudo-randomly. The combination of task-homogeneous and task-heterogeneous blocks allows the measurement of general switch costs (latency differences between heterogeneous and homogeneous blocks) and specific switch costs (differences between switch and non-switch trials within the heterogeneous block).

Tempo (rhythm keeping) – 3 minutes

Tempo was developed by Jane Paulsen, PhD. Tempo is a test of an individual’s psychomotor functioning, including timing. In each trial, an auditory tone is presented to the examinee at a constant rate, similar to a metronome. When the examinee feels that they have a sense of the rhythm, they tap the screen at the same rate as the tone. After some time of tapping along with the tone, the tone is discontinued and the examinee attempts to maintain the same tapping rate, self-paced, until the end of the trial. The examinee holds the tablet in both hands and uses both thumbs to tap in an alternating pattern to produce the target rhythm. The remaining fingers are placed beneath the tablet to provide stability during the task. There are 5 trials, all with an identical tone sequence.


Favorites (verbal and visual associative memory) – 5 minutes

Favorites is a test of multimodal associative memory for visual and verbal information in which examinees are asked to remember faces paired with a food and animal word. The task consists of two Learning Trials, each followed by an Immediate Recall Trial, and a 10-minute Delayed Recall and Delayed Recognition trials.


Animal Fluency (categorical verbal fluency) – 2 minutes

Animal Fluency is a widely used test of language generation. Examinees are asked to generate as many animals as possible in 1 minute, and the total correct is recorded.

Rapid Naming (speeded confrontation naming) – 2 minutes

Rapid Naming is a test of speeded confrontation naming. Examinees are shown pictures of objects on the screen, one at a time, and are asked to name each object as quickly as they can. Total trial time is 60 seconds. The pictures are all black-and-white line drawings of common objects. The concepts were all chosen based on name agreement at 85% or higher (per previously published work), a minimum age of word acquisition of 5 years old, and a maximum word frequency of 5 per 1 million (or less).


Quick Tap (motor) – 2 minutes

Quick Tap provides a measure of motor speed and dexterity. During task completion, the tablet should be placed flat on a table or surface. The examinee should first rest their non-dominant hand on the tablet surface with their index finger placed within a designated area on the screen. When prompted, they should tap their non-dominant index finger repeatedly, as fast as possible, until the end of the trial. There are 5 trials of 10 seconds each. The trials begin with a tone that signals the start, and another tone and signals the end. The designated tapping area also changes color from green to red to signal the trial start and stop.


Line Length (visuospatial) – 2 minutes

Line Length is a test of visuospatial skills and was developed as a potentially more accessible alternative to Line Orientation for examinees with language difficulties. Examinees are shown 2 parallel white lines of differing lengths on a navy background. Examinees are asked to tap the longer line of the two.

Line Orientation (visuospatial) – 2 minutes

Line Orientation is a test of visuospatial skills and is modeled after the Benton Judgement of Line Orientation task. Examinees are shown 3 lines on a dark navy background; 1 white line between and shifted vertically above 2 shorter orange lines. One orange line is shown parallel to the white line, whereas the other orange line is presented at a different angle. Examinees are asked to tap the orange line that is parallel to the target white line.


Brain Health Survey

Questions on this self-administered survey are to be completed by an informant who knows the examinee very well. On each question, the informant is asked to evaluate change in the examinee’s functional level or the emergence of new neurocognitive symptoms over the past 5 years.

Twelve questions, taken from the ECog-12, are validated for the detection of MCI and dementia in a predominantly AD sample.

To enhance the detection of less typical presentations, nine additional yes/no questions were added to the BHS to inquire about early neurocognitive or neurobehavioral symptoms typical of a non-AD disorder or an atypical presentation of AD.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder Assessment, 7 Item

Questions should be completed by the examinee. The GAD-7 asks the examinee to evaluate their anxiety levels over the past 2 weeks. It is sensitive to generalized anxiety disorder as indicated by a total score that is a summation of the scaled responses for all seven items.

Patient Health Questionnaire, 9 Item

Questions should be completed by the examinee. The PHQ-9 asks the examinee to evaluate their depression levels over the past 2 weeks. It is sensitive to depression as indicated by a total score that is a summation of the scaled responses for all nine items, and covers the DSM-IV criteria for major depressive disorder.