Computerized Wisconsin Card Sorting Test: comparison with manual administration.

A. Y. Tien, T. V. Spevack, D. W. Jones, G. D. Pearlson, T. E. Schlaepfer, M. E. Strauss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Computer-based testing in neuropsychology potentially offers important advantages. These include improvement in reliability and more efficient use of resources. For tests such as the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test (WCST) in which examiners must provide on-going feedback to subjects, reliability may be decreased by variability and errors in test presentation, errors in response recording and feedback, and errors in scoring. In addition, an important aspects of neuropsychological assessment is qualitative, that is, observations of the processes by which the subject responds to the test situation. The mechanics of administering the WCST hinder the examiner from allocating attention for observing these processes. Accordingly, we have automated both the administration and the scoring of the WCST. Although potential benefits of computerizing the WCST seem likely, it is possible that factors which cannot at present be duplicated by a computer may effect performance. This study compared performance between the standard manual Heaton version of the WCST and the computerized version. In a group of 33 normal and psychiatric subjects, there were significant differences in the number of Errors and the number of Correct responses, but no significant differences in performance were found for Perseverative Responses, Perseverative Errors, and Set Breaks. The mean number of Categories achieved was 2.0 for the computer administered version and 2.4 for the manual version: this difference was only marginally significant (p = 0.065). The computerized form of the WCST appears to yield similar quantitative results on scores which are most specifically affected by brain injuries in testing with the manual form. Lower variance was seen in the computer scores. This result is consistent with more reliable administration and accuracy in data acquisition and scoring in the computer version. The results overall indicate that the computer version is not a substitute for a human examiner, rather, the computer can function as a reliable partner, carrying out the mechanics of test presentation and scoring, freeing the examiner to more fully support the subject in taking the test and to observe the non-quantitative aspects of test performance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)479-485
Number of pages7
JournalThe Kaohsiung journal of medical sciences
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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