By Cait Kearney
Kimberly Halberstadter came to the Penn Memory Center in 2018, trying to get her foot in the door as an undergraduate volunteer. Today she’s a full-time employee representing the University of Pennsylvania at the world’s largest Alzheimer’s academic conference.
As an undergraduate at the University of Pennsylvania, Halberstadter started working on the development of the Mobile Cognitive App Performance Program (MCAPP) and documented her work for her undergraduate thesis. After graduation, she rejoined the Penn Memory Center (PMC) as clinical researcher coordinator, collecting data for MCAPP.
Now, she’s presenting the results of the first round of data collection at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC) 2022.
Unlike the in-person paper and pencil assessments that are typically used to test cognition, MCAPP evaluates cognition through fun, virtual games. Participants complete these games from the comfort of their own homes on mobile devices provided to them.
“Having a mobile platform for accessing cognition can make cognitive assessment accessible,” said Halberstadter.
The initial results of the study are promising, Halberstadter said. Participants seem to be comfortable using the technology, and the games seem to be measuring cognition as the researchers intended.
“It’s looking like there are definitely relationships between participants’ performance on our games and the performance on related cognitive measures,” said Halberstadter.
Halberstadter has worked closely with the principal investigator of MCAPP, Dawn Mechanic-Hamilton, PhD, ABPP/CN, who is director of the Cognitive Fitness Programs and Neuropsychological Services at the PMC.
Dr. Mechanic-Hamilton has been as an advisor, supervisor, and mentor for Halberstadter, who plans to attend a doctoral program in clinical psychology.
Halberstadter hopes to continue to present MCAPP data at future conferences and maybe someday return to PMC in the next stage of her career.
“I’ve come back three times already, so what’s stopping me?” she said.