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Smartphone Apps for Brain Health Research


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A powerful tool for assessing brain health may be sitting in your pocket. Recent research suggests that smartphone apps may help researchers identify changes in brain health associated with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.

Smartphone apps can be leveraged to administer brief tests of memory of thinking. Unlike traditional tests in the clinic, app-based tests can be completed at any time and from any location, right on your iPhone or Android.

The Brain Health Registry is at the forefront of this field. In January 2022, we launched the Mobile Toolbox Study, and in June 2022, we began referring eligible BHR participants to the UCSF Mobile App Study. Already, we are gathering useful data from these projects, all thanks to you!

The Mobile Toolbox Study


Thousands of Brain Health Registry participants have already participated in the Mobile Toolbox Study. This project is a collaboration with researchers at Northwestern University, and it aims to understand how smartphones can improve brain health testing. Participants are asked to download a free app on their smartphone and use it to complete tests of brain health measures such as memory and attention.

Brain Health Registry participants are providing valuable information, so the Mobile Toolbox tests can later be used to evaluate brain health in even larger groups of people.

The initial data collected through this effort suggests that enrollment and task completion in Mobile Toolbox is a successful approach. This method could eventually be scaled up to efficiently assess cognition in many research and healthcare settings.

UCSF Mobile App Study


BHR scientists are also working with collaborators at the UCSF Memory and Aging Center on a new mobile app study.

As part of a larger study, researchers developed a smartphone app that measures thinking, language, and movement symptoms related to frontotemporal dementia. Frontotemporal dementia is a broad term for a handful of disorders that impact parts of the brain associated with language, behavior, and personality.

Participants are asked to download a free app on their smartphone and use it to complete tests of thinking and memory, walking and balance, and speech. Keep an eye on your email, since you may be invited to participate in this study!

Thanks to all of you, our participants, we can explore these exciting frontiers of brain health research. We appreciate your ongoing contribution to our study!