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Article

Psychometric Properties of NASA-TLX and Index of Cognitive Activity as Measures of Cognitive Workload in Older Adults

1
Laboratory for Advanced Rehabilitation Research in Simulation, Department of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science, University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City, KS 66160, USA
2
Department of Neurology, University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City, KS 66160, USA
3
Hoglund Brain Imaging Center, University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City, KS 66160, USA
4
University of Kansas Alzheimer’s Disease Center, University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City, KS 66160, USA
5
Department of Biostatistics & Data Science, University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City, KS 66160, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Brain Sci. 2020, 10(12), 994; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10120994
Received: 2 November 2020 / Revised: 1 December 2020 / Accepted: 14 December 2020 / Published: 16 December 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Neural Bases of Cognitive Processing)
Cognitive workload is increasingly recognized as an important determinant of performance in cognitive tests and daily life activities. Cognitive workload is a measure of physical and mental effort allocation to a task, which can be determined through self-report or physiological measures. However, the reliability and validity of these measures have not been established in older adults with a wide range of cognitive ability. The aim of this study was to establish the test–retest reliability of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Task Load Index (NASA-TLX) and Index of Cognitive Activity (ICA), extracted from pupillary size. The convergent validity of these measures against event-related potentials (ERPs) was also investigated. A total of 38 individuals with scores on the Montreal Cognitive Assessment ranging between 17 and 30 completed a working memory test (n-back) with three levels of difficulty at baseline and at a two-week follow-up. The intraclass correlation coefficients (ICC) values of the NASA-TLX ranged between 0.71 and 0.81, demonstrating good to excellent reliability. The mean ICA scores showed fair to good reliability, with ICCs ranging between 0.56 and 0.73. The mean ICA and NASA-TLX scores showed significant and moderate correlations (Pearson’s r ranging between 0.30 and 0.33) with the third positive peak of the ERP at the midline channels. We conclude that ICA and NASA-TLX are reliable measures of cognitive workload in older adults. Further research is needed in dissecting the subjective and objective constructs of cognitive workload. View Full-Text
Keywords: event-related potentials; workload; reliability; working memory; mild cognitive impairment; dementia event-related potentials; workload; reliability; working memory; mild cognitive impairment; dementia
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MDPI and ACS Style

Devos, H.; Gustafson, K.; Ahmadnezhad, P.; Liao, K.; Mahnken, J.D.; Brooks, W.M.; Burns, J.M. Psychometric Properties of NASA-TLX and Index of Cognitive Activity as Measures of Cognitive Workload in Older Adults. Brain Sci. 2020, 10, 994. https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10120994

AMA Style

Devos H, Gustafson K, Ahmadnezhad P, Liao K, Mahnken JD, Brooks WM, Burns JM. Psychometric Properties of NASA-TLX and Index of Cognitive Activity as Measures of Cognitive Workload in Older Adults. Brain Sciences. 2020; 10(12):994. https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10120994

Chicago/Turabian Style

Devos, Hannes, Kathleen Gustafson, Pedram Ahmadnezhad, Ke Liao, Jonathan D. Mahnken, William M. Brooks, and Jeffrey M. Burns 2020. "Psychometric Properties of NASA-TLX and Index of Cognitive Activity as Measures of Cognitive Workload in Older Adults" Brain Sciences 10, no. 12: 994. https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10120994

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