iPONT- Israeli Platform for Online Neuropsychological Testing

Two main obstacles in testing the cognitive status of patients with neurological disorders are:
1. Small and Unrepresentative Samples: The sample size of studies is small and not diverse, frequently with 50 or fewer participants from the same geographic area.
2. Time Required: It can take significant time to undertake a single study, let alone a package of studies which often requires two to three years to complete.

To test the cognitive status of patients, researchers need access to them, which is difficult because:
1. Recruitment: It is challenging to recruit patients, especially those with motor impairments, such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.
2. Participation: Even when patients are recruited and want to participate in studies, it is challenging to engage them in a single session, much less in multiple sessions required for in-depth evaluation.
• Patients may have limited time and energy to participate, given their medical condition.
• Patients may be unwilling or unable to commute to the testing site. Obstacles are particularly pronounced for those living in peripheral areas. 
• The administration of the assessment is not user-friendly, preventing patients from completing the full battery of tasks.

To address these obstacles and more effectively research the cognitive status of individuals with neurological disorders, we propose leveraging the internet and developing a specialized remote testing platform.
• In recent years, behavioral researchers in different domains are increasingly using the web to reach larger and more diverse populations than has previously been feasible with lab-based methods.
• Numerous fields of psychology have tapped into the power of crowdsourcing platforms to obtain reliable behavioral data fast.
• However, crowdsourcing platforms were not designed for neuropsychological research.

Method: iPONT
We are developing iPONT to respond to challenges researchers face with patient recruitment and participation. A joint venture between Tel Aviv University and Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center, iPONT will be modeled after the successful academic program, the Platform for Online Neuropsychological Testing (PONT), which we already implemented in over a dozen states in the USA.
Our existing research demonstrates the feasibility and efficiency of conducting online neuropsychological testing: To date, in three years, while our in-person study only had 50 participants (a standard situation), we have completed 10 online experiments with nearly 1,000 participants, a particularly high number in the field. Using our online approach, we significantly increased the sample size, the diversity of the sample, and the number of studies conducted across many human abilities.

Benefits of the Project
1. Boost the pace of neuropsychological testing worldwide
2. Increase the amount of data from each individual patient
3. Collect critical information about the neurological status of a patient more quickly
4. Provide a comprehensive understanding of brain structures
5. Track the progression of neurological disorders, leading to improved diagnosis and personalized interventions

The Team
The lead investigator is Dr. William Saban (Will), a senior lecturer in the Stanley Steyer School of Health Professions, Faculty of Medicine and Sagol School of Neuroscience, Tel Aviv University. Will completed a Ph.D. in neuropsychology in Israel and post-doctorate at UC Berkeley. Will works with collaborators in Israel, Canada, England, and the USA to create a large-scale, multi-national patient research program. These collaborations have multiple benefits, including facilitating the recruitment of a larger and more representative pool of patients, as well as promoting diversity and cultural competency.

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