Pathfinder: A 15-minute, online, gamified measure of g.
General cognitive ability (g) is the underlying dimension that connects a diverse range of cognitive functions, such as spatial and verbal abilities, memory, and information processing. It is essential to understand the influence of environmental and genetic factors on g as it is a predictor of many important educational, social, and health related outcomes. However, the heterogeneity of measures for general cognitive ability has hindered our understanding of how genes influence g.
TEDS researchers aimed to address this issue by creating Pathfinder, a gamified measure of general cognitive ability. Pathfinder is a 15-minute, interactive measure of g is comprised of two core blocks assessing verbal and nonverbal abilities. The battery consists of 20 verbal and 20 nonverbal items spanning 5 cognitive tests. All items appear as part of an interactive storyline, which participants move through as they complete puzzles.
Administering Pathfinder to young adults in the Twins Early Development Study (TEDS; Rimfeld et al., 2019) allowed researchers to examine the developmental and genetic utility of the gamified measure. Performance on Pathfinder correlated strongly with childhood and adolescent cognitive and academic performance and moderately with family socioeconomic status.
Pathfinder also showed substantial twin (57%) and SNP heritability (37%) in the TEDS sample. Polygenic scores, calculated from genome-wide association studies of five cognitive and education traits, predicted 12% of variance in g. These genetic findings confirm Pathfinder’s potential to contribute to genomic discoveries in relation to cognitive abilities.
Pathfinder has proven to be a reliable, valid and brief alternative to traditional cognitive assessments, which presents an exciting opportunity to improve sample sizes and reduce measurement heterogeneity within large biobanks. The TEDS team hopes that widespread use of this gamified measure of g will advance our understanding of cognitive ability throughout the genomic, biological, medical, and behavioural sciences.
To find out more and access the measure please email firstname.lastname@example.org. Pathfinder is available to all researchers through the open science framework.
The pre-print of the Pathfinder development studies can be found here: https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2021.02.10.430571v2
The full paper has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Molecular Psychiatry.
A video example of the interactive nature of Pathfinder: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KTk1Ej4F8zE