Calibration and validation of an innovative approach for estimating general cognitive performance

Alden L. Gross, Richard N. Jones, Tamara G. Fong, Douglas Tommet, Sharon K. Inouye

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Objective: To evaluate a new approach for creating a composite measure of cognitive function, we calibrated a measure of general cognitive performance from existing neuropsychological batteries. Methods: We applied our approach in an epidemiological study and scaled the composite to a nationally representative sample of older adults. Criterion validity was evaluated against standard clinical diagnoses. Convergent validity was evaluated against the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE). Results: The general cognitive performance factor was scaled to have a mean of 50 and standard deviation of 10 in a nationally representative sample of older adults. A cutoff point of approximately 45, corresponding to an MMSE of 23/24, optimally discriminated participants with and without dementia (sensitivity = 0.94, specificity = 0.90, area under the curve = 0.97). The general cognitive performance factor was internally consistent (Cronbach's = 0.91) and provided reliable measures of functional ability across a wide range of cognitive functioning. It demonstrated minimal floor and ceiling effects, which is an improvement over most individual cognitive tests. Conclusions: The cognitive composite is a highly reliable measure, with minimal floor and ceiling effects. We calibrated it using a nationally representative sample of adults over the age of 70 in the USA and established diagnostically relevant cutoff points. Our methods can be used to harmonize neuropsychological test results across diverse settings and studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)144-153
Number of pages10
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 2014



  • Calibration
  • Cognitive function
  • Dementia
  • Factor analysis
  • Harmonization
  • Measurement

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Clinical Neurology

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