By Ronald Peters, MD, MPH

August 3, 2019

Doctors evaluate the health of your heart, lungs, and other organs in your body.  Can we measure the health of your brain?  The answer is “yes”.  Not only can we measure brain function; we can also improve it with nutrition, lifestyle and mind style changes as well as brain nutraceuticals.

MindBody Medicine Center has partnered with Cambridge Brain Sciences, or CBS Health, which offers an online brain health assessment service to quantify and objectively assess, monitor, and manage key areas of cognition.

Cognition is the scientific word for thinking – that mysterious process that arises from billions of neurons firing in your brain based on your awareness of the environment as you focus, remember, solve problems, plan and basically create the wonder and complexity of your life journey just the way you want it.

Measuring cognition before or after specific treatments will allow you to gain evidence that the treatment is working.  Changes in your health can happen slowly, and it is difficult to know if you are maintaining your brain health over time. Tracking your cognitive measurements over time will give you a long-term view of how your brain health is changing.


This is not an IQ test and your brain can’t be defined by one number. Your cognitive function is not a single, unchanging, and physical measurement—like height—that can stay constant day in and day out. Cognitive abilities can change, even on a daily basis. In that sense, cognitive function is more like blood pressure than it is like height. Over the long term it is more or less constant (assuming you stay healthy), however significant fluctuations may occur on a day to day basis depending on what you’ve been doing, your sleep habits, your stress level, what you’ve eaten, your mood, and a multitude of other factors.

Also, you may be stronger at one aspect of cognition (e.g., memory), yet weaker another (e.g., planning or problem solving). To truly understand your cognitive abilities, several. different measures are needed.


General Health and Wellness: 

Many people want a reliable, validated, quantifiable measure of their brain health over time in order to ensure they are maintaining a level of cognitive function that enables them to live a high quality of life.  They can see strengths and weakness and make changes in order to restore or maintain high levels of performance.


The incidence of memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease is rising in the polluted world we live in. Many people are concerned about memory loss and for most of them, simple testing will show good memory.  Others may want to improve their memory, like they improve their cardiovascular fitness. People with a family history of Alzheimer’s disease are often concerned about memory loss.

Cognition testing provides results that can be monitored over time which replaces the worry with peace of mind.

Diagnosis and/or Treatment of Neurological Disorders:

Cognitive testing research and the Cambridge Brain Sciences tasks have been extensively used to make discoveries about disorders that affect the brain, such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s, depression, autism, and ADHD. The key benefit for patients is that they can gain an objective view of their progress over time, helping them validate the intervention as well as gain confidence that they are resuming normal function.


MEMORY               REASONING



MEMORY  (4 Tasks, or, questions.  Each task takes 1.5 to 3 minutes)

Visuospatial Working Memory

  • The ability to temporarily hold information in memory and manipulate or update it based on changing circumstances or demands.
  • For example – Planning your day and the errands you need to run, then carrying out those errands in the correct order by memory

Spatial Short-Term Memory

  • The ability to temporarily store spatial information in memory.
  • For example – Recalling and then delivering a set of directions to someone for a route you just took.

Working Memory

  • The ability to temporarily hold information in memory and manipulate or update it based on changing circumstances or demands.
  • For example – Systematically searching for your car keys that have been left somewhere by your partner.

Episodic Memory

  • The ability to remember and recall specific events, paired with the context in which they
  • occurred, such as identifying when and where an object was encountered.
  • For example – When storing household items after grocery shopping, later remembering which items you put where.

REASONING       (4 Tasks)

 Mental Rotation

  • The ability to efficiently manipulate mental representations of objects in order to make valid conclusions about what objects are and where they belong.
  • For example – navigating using a map on your phone that keeps rotating every time you turn or finding the route to a room inside a building even though you came in through a different door.

Visuospatial Processing

  • The ability to effectively process and interpret visual information, such as complex visual stimuli and relationships between objects.
  • For example – Performing actions that require precise assessment and reasoning about objects, such as drawing, constructing models, aligning decorations on a wall, or designing a web page.

Deductive Reasoning

  • The ability to apply rules to information in order to arrive at a logical conclusion.
  • For example – Determine that something is true because of a set of facts. For instance, when doing your taxes, you may determine that you qualify for a tax rebate based on certain rules set out by your country.


  • The ability to act with forethought and sequence behavior in an orderly fashion to reach specific goals, which is a fundamental property of intelligent behavior.
  • For example – Packing items into your car’s trunk so that they all fit, or assembling a piece of furniture.

ATTENTION          (2 Tasks)


  • The ability to draw upon mental concentration and focus in order to monitor for a specific stimulus or difference.
  • For example – Identifying similarities and differences when comparing two things, such as deciding which of many great photos of your friends to share from an evening out.

Response Inhibition

  • The ability to concentrate on relevant information in order to make a correct response despite interference or distracting information.
  • For example – Blocking out background conversations when you’re trying to focus on something or ignoring buzz words when viewing a television ad (“Fresh! Simple! Revolutionary!”), while focusing your attention on more important factors, like price or quality of the item being sold.

VERBAL ABILITY     (2 Tasks)

 Verbal Reasoning

  • The ability to quickly understand and make valid conclusions about concepts expressed in words.
  • For example – Understanding everyday speech that may contain negative statements – for instance, “I didn’t know that he wasn’t going to show up”.

Verbal Short-Term Memory

  • The ability to temporarily store information in memory.
  • For example – Remembering a telephone number as you’re entering it into your phone

The CBS Health tasks are highly engaging and gamified, efficient (completion time of 1.5 – 3 minutes per task), and can be taken online or in person using common everyday devices like iPads, or desktop and laptop computers.

You can “map” the brain by doing all 12 Tasks, which would take about 40 minutes, or, you can do a select group of Tasks.

A CBS Health report will show you your raw score on each task, as well as how your score compares to others in similar age and gender groups. A sample report is available here for your reference.



  1. Call MindBody Medicine Center (480.607.7999) and speak to Naomi. She will explain cost and interpretation options. She will then send you a link via email or schedule an in-person appointment to administer the cognitive assessment.
  2. Before you begin, you’ll be prompted to review instructions and details regarding steps for taking your cognitive assessment, as well as how long the assessment will take.
  3. Upon reviewing the instructions, you’ll move on to the interactive tutorial for the first task. You may repeat this tutorial multiple times to ensure you’re comfortable with the task instructions
  4. Once you’ve completed the tutorial, you’ll be asked to complete the task. Once the assessment is complete, a report will be generated and sent to your practitioner for review.


To ensure your assessment results are as accurate as possible, here are several tips to be mindful of before and during the tasks.

Reduce distractions.

Do your best to give your full attention to the tasks. Whether you’re at home or at the clinic, ensure that your surroundings are calm and quiet, and put your personal devices on silent mode.

Be consistent from task to task.

Take the tasks in the same environment every time. Do your best to control for external variables, such as time of day and hours slept the night before. Unless your healthcare practitioner recommends specific changes to your daily routine, try to keep things consistent.

Familiarize yourself with the tasks before starting.

Complete the interactive tutorials to ensure you understand the rules of the task before you begin. If you feel you’ve missed something in the task instructions, or aren’t comfortable proceeding past the task tutorials, you can re-take the task tutorial until you’re ready.

Get comfortable.

This is a task for your brain—it shouldn’t be hard on your body. Find an environment that is as comfortable as possible and adjust your chair and screen so you are in the position that feels most natural.

Don’t overthink it.

Think of the assessment like having your blood pressure measured – in other words, it’s a measurement as opposed to a test. If you answer a few questions incorrectly during your assessment, that is to be expected. Don’t let it discourage you – keep going and try to maintain your focus throughout the duration of the assessment.


I feel like I did not do well on my assessment – should I be concerned?

 You should not be concerned if you feel you did not do your best – there is no such thing as “best” for this type of assessment. The tasks are designed to be challenging and to assess your limits by getting increasingly difficult as you answer questions correctly. Please be aware that this is only a snapshot of your cognition at the moment you are completing the assessment and that cognitive performance tends to fluctuate naturally from day to day depending on many factors (like your sleep quality, stress level, nutrition, exercise regiments, etc.).

I could not complete my assessment due to an interruption or technical issue – what should I do?

 If you’re interrupted or experience a technical issue during the assessment, contact your healthcare practitioner and describe the situation, as well as the task you were on, so that results for that specific task can be interpreted appropriately. If you experience a technical issue that prevents you from accessing the assessment, let your practitioner know the operating system and browser you are using.

How long does the assessment take?

 Assessments can vary in length depending on the number of tasks your practitioner has chosen. A four-task assessment will take roughly 15 minutes, while a full 12-task assessment may take approximately 40 minutes. You can view the approximate length of the assessment on the first page of your assessment.

How will my practitioner use the results?

 CBS Health is used in a variety of different ways, ranging from annual monitoring of your cognition to evaluating recovery from injury to validating treatment plans or interventions designed to improve your brain health. We encourage you to speak with your healthcare practitioner to learn more.

What does a CBS Health report look like?

 You can view a sample report here. Reports will indicate raw scores and percentile ranks compared to others of the same age and gender, as well as tracking your results over time (if you’ve taken assessments previously).


Cambridge Brain Sciences is a leading provider of web-based brain health assessment software for healthcare practitioners (CBS Health) and researchers (CBS Research). Our proprietary assessments of brain function and brain health have been developed over the past 25 years, taken over 8 million times and used in over 300 studies published in leading peer-reviewed academic journals. As a result, we maintain and possess one of the world’s largest normative databases of cognitive function. Our tasks are highly engaging, require no expert technical support to administer and are based on the pioneering work of our Chief Scientific Officer, renowned neuroscientist, Dr. Adrian Owen (