118| Ecological Validity and Digital Technology – A Conversation With Dr. Maureen Schmitter-Edgecombe

This episode is a conversation with Dr. Maureen Schmitter-Edgecombe about ecological validity, with a focus on methods for capitalizing on digital technologies to maximize ecological validity in neuropsychology. We cover definitions, methods for assessing ecological validity, naturalistic assessment, smart homes, sensors, privacy and security, and a digital memory notebook.

A pdf of the transcript for this episode is available here.

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About Maureen

Maureen Schmitter-Edgecombe is a Regents Professor and H. L. Eastlick Distinguished Professor in the Department of Psychology at Washington State University. Dr. Schmitter-Edgecombe’s laboratory has pioneered novel, ecologically valid methods to assess activities of daily living in real-world environments as well as innovative preventative interventions and compensatory technologies that can support brain health and maintenance of functional independence. The goal of her collaborative work with computer scientists is to extend the functional independence and quality of life of older individuals with neurodegenerative disorders by developing interventions and smart technologies that can promote proactive health care and real-time intervention. Dr. Schmitter-Edgecombe’s work has been continuously funded by more than $20 million in grants including grants from multiple NIH institutes, NSF, the Alzheimer’s Association, and the US Department of Defense. Dr. Schmitter-Edgecombe and her colleagues have also opened the door to new avenues of health and science research and education in the field of Gerontechnology by training a new breed of students in complementary disciplines, including computer science, engineering, psychology and health care. She has authored or co-authored more than 160 peer-reviewed publications; and is a co-editor of the second edition of the book “Neuropsychology of Everyday Functioning”.


Alberdi, A., Weakley, A., Schmitter-Edgecombe, M., Cook, D. J., Aztiria, A., Basarab, A., & Barrenechea, M. (2018). Smart home-based prediction of multidomain symptoms related to Alzheimer’s disease. IEEE journal of biomedical and health informatics, 22(6), 1720-1731.

Aminikhanghahi, S., Schmitter-Edgecombe, M., & Cook, D. J. (2019). Context-aware delivery of ecological momentary assessment. IEEE journal of biomedical and health informatics, 24(4), 1206-1214.

Aramendi, A. A., Weakley, A., Goenaga, A. A., Schmitter-Edgecombe, M., & Cook, D. J. (2018). Automatic assessment of functional health decline in older adults based on smart home data. Journal of biomedical informatics, 81, 119-130.

Beaver, J., & Schmitter-Edgecombe, M. (2017). Multiple types of memory and everyday functional assessment in older adults. Archives of Clinical Neuropsychology, 32(4), 413-426.

Boyd, B., McAlister, C., Arrotta, K., & Schmitter-Edgecombe, M. (2022). Self-reported behavior change and predictors of engagement with a multidomain brain health intervention for midlife and older adults: A pilot clinical trial. Journal of Aging and Health, 34(1), 109-119.

Braley, R., Fritz, R., Van Son, C. R., & Schmitter-Edgecombe, M. (2019). Prompting technology and persons with dementia: the significance of context and communication. The Gerontologist, 59(1), 101-111.

Chudoba, L. A., Church, A. S., Dahmen, J. B., Brown, K. D., & Schmitter-Edgecombe, M. (2019). The development of a manual-based digital memory notebook intervention with case study illustrations. Neuropsychological Rehabilitation.

Cook, D. J., Schmitter-Edgecombe, M., Jönsson, L., & Morant, A. V. (2018). Technology-enabled assessment of functional health. IEEE reviews in biomedical engineering, 12, 319-332.

Dahmen, J., Cook, D., Fellows, R., & Schmitter-Edgecombe, M. (2017). An analysis of a digital variant of the Trail Making Test using machine learning techniques. Technology and Health Care, 25(2), 251-264.

Farias, S. T., Gravano, J., Weakley, A., Schmitter-Edgecombe, M., Harvey, D., Mungas, D., … & Giovannetti, T. (2020). The everyday compensation (EComp) questionnaire: Construct validity and associations with diagnosis and longitudinal change in cognition and everyday function in older adults. Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society, 26(3), 303-313.

Farias, S. T., Schmitter-Edgecombe, M., Weakley, A., Harvey, D., Denny, K. G., Barba, C., … & Willis, S. (2018). Compensation strategies in older adults: association with cognition and everyday function. American Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease & Other Dementias®, 33(3), 184-191.

Fellows, R. P., Dahmen, J., Cook, D., & Schmitter-Edgecombe, M. (2017). Multicomponent analysis of a digital Trail Making Test. The Clinical Neuropsychologist, 31(1), 154-167.

Fellows, R. P., & Schmitter-Edgecombe, M. (2019). Multimethod assessment of everyday functioning and memory abilities in Parkinson’s disease. Neuropsychology, 33(2), 169-177.

Fritz, R. L., Wilson, M., Dermody, G., Schmitter-Edgecombe, M., & Cook, D. J. (2020). Automated smart home assessment to support pain management: multiple methods analysis. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 22(11), e23943.

Ghods, A., Caffrey, K., Lin, B., Fraga, K., Fritz, R., Schmitter-Edgecombe, M., … & Cook, D. J. (2018). Iterative design of visual analytics for a clinician-in-the-loop smart home. IEEE journal of biomedical and health informatics, 23(4), 1742-1748.

Parsey, C. M., & Schmitter-Edgecombe, M. (2019). Using actigraphy to predict the ecological momentary assessment of mood, fatigue, and cognition in older adulthood: Mixed-methods study. JMIR aging, 2(1), e11331.

Raghunath, N., Dahmen, J., Brown, K., Cook, D., & Schmitter-Edgecombe, M. (2020). Creating a digital memory notebook application for individuals with mild cognitive impairment to support everyday functioning. Disability and Rehabilitation: Assistive Technology, 15(4), 421-431.

Robertson, K., & Schmitter-Edgecombe, M. (2017). Naturalistic tasks performed in realistic environments: A review with implications for neuropsychological assessment. The Clinical Neuropsychologist, 31(1), 16-42.

Schmitter-Edgecombe, M., Cunningham, R., McAlister, C., Arrotta, K., & Weakley, A. (2021). The night out task and scoring application: an ill-structured, open-ended clinic-based test representing cognitive capacities used in everyday situations. Archives of Clinical Neuropsychology, 36(4), 537-553.

Schmitter-Edgecombe, M., McAlister, C., & Greeley, D. (2022). A comparison of functional abilities in individuals with mild cognitive impairment and parkinson’s disease with mild cognitive impairment using multiple assessment methods. Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society, 28(8), 798-809.

Schmitter-Edgecombe, M., Sumida, C., & Cook, D. J. (2020). Bridging the gap between performance-based assessment and self-reported everyday functioning: An ecological momentary assessment approach. The Clinical Neuropsychologist, 34(4), 678-699.

Spooner, D. M., & Pachana, N. A. (2006). Ecological validity in neuropsychological assessment: A case for greater consideration in research with neurologically intact populations. Archives of clinical neuropsychology, 21(4), 327-337.

Van Patten, R., Keller, A. V., Maye, J. E., Jeste, D. V., Depp, C., Riek, L. D., & Twamley, E. W. (2020). Home-based cognitively assistive robots: maximizing cognitive functioning and maintaining independence in older adults without dementia. Clinical Interventions in Aging, 1129-1139.

Weakley, A., Weakley, A. T., & Schmitter-Edgecombe, M. (2019). Compensatory strategy use improves real-world functional performance in community dwelling older adults. Neuropsychology, 33(8), 1121-1135.