Unobtrusive monitoring of divided attention in a cognitive health coaching intervention for the elderly

AMIA Annu Symp Proc. 2010 Nov 13:2010:507-11.


Assessment of cognitive functionality is an important aspect of care for elders. Unfortunately, few tools exist to measure divided attention, the ability to allocate attention to different aspects of tasks. An accurate determination of divided attention would allow inference of generalized cognitive decline, as well as providing a quantifiable indicator of an important component of driving skill. We propose a new method for determining relative divided attention ability through unobtrusive monitoring of computer use. Specifically, we measure performance on a dual-task cognitive computer exercise as part of a health coaching intervention. This metric indicates whether the user has the ability to pay attention to both tasks at once, or is primarily attending to one task at a time (sacrificing optimal performance). The monitoring of divided attention in a home environment is a key component of both the early detection of cognitive problems and for assessing the efficacy of coaching interventions.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Attention*
  • Cognition*
  • Computers
  • Exercise
  • Humans