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Brain and Culture in Europe: Development of an European Domain Specific Computerized Battery for Cross-Cultural Neurocognitive Assessment

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - EMBRACED (Brain and Culture in Europe: Development of an European Domain Specific Computerized Battery for Cross-Cultural Neurocognitive Assessment)

Reporting period: 2015-06-01 to 2017-05-31

EMBRACED project was created with the aim of developing a new and culturally adapted computerized neurocognitive battery for the assessment of European adults: the EMBRACED battery. This instrument would fill in the gap for a tool that could be used regardless of the country of origin and that would improve the diagnosis for neurocognitive and other disorders by incorporating cultural factors, as indicated by the DSM-5.
EMBRACED serves a threefold purpose:

- At a basic science level, it provides a tool for the field of cultural neuroscience, allowing for a comprehensive analysis of the cultural factors affecting neurocognitive performance, and the how and how much of this influence.

- In research, EMBRACED can be used to combine samples from different countries, thus increasing sample size and improving statistical power, and providing more robust conclusions. Also, it will permit making valuable comparisons between groups. The product obtained will be used in the future in any research project intending to include neuropsychological assessment in different countries in Europe.

- In the clinical field, EMBRACED improves diagnosis, reducing the risk of false positives, specially in the migrating groups and in the elderly populations. It will thus improve the care provided to society at large, which is one of the H2020 priority research lines included in the “Health, Demographic Change, and Wellbeing” challenge.

The final result is a highly marketable and demanded product that fulfills a need in the field of cultural neuropsychology.
As far as we know, EMBRACED is the first culturally adapted neurocognitive battery, not only in Europe, but also in the rest of the world.
The reported period corresponds to the outgoing phase that took place in the host institution (University of North Carolina Wilmington, UNCW) in the US from June 2015 to May 2017.
In brief, the objectives for this period and the main results achieved so far are:

- Objective 1. To develop the EMBRACED battery.
The neurocognitive battery has been designed and programmed and is fully operational both in English and in Spanish.
It includes a comprehensive sociodemographic and cultural questionnaire (Objective 1.1.) and a total of 16 neurocognitive tasks (Objective 1.2.).
The full battery was programmed during the reported period (Objective 1.3.).
A pilot study was conducted including 50 college students and data collected were used for the battery tune up (Objective 1.4).

- Objective 2.- To obtain EMBRACED standardization data. This objective was not planned to be completed in the reported period. However, some of the tasks have been already initiated.
Potential partners in Europe were contacted to prepare for the second phase of this project: the standardization in 8 target European countries (Objective 2.1.).
The global database for the project including all sociodemographic, cultural and neurocognitive variables has been already created and tested, and some preliminary analyses have been performed and reported (Objective 2.3.).
EMBRACED battery was conceived as the first culturally adapted neurocognitive battery in Europe, and in the world.
Thanks to the feedback received in the many presentations and communications that we made describing the project, we now know that it will definitely have far more impact than was originally foreseen.

This project was initially thought to cover around 80% of the European population, but the interest shown by many other countries inclines us to believe that the percentage of population that will be benefited from EMBRACED battery is going to be much larger. Thus, this project will make an excellent use of public money, which is one of the key initiatives in “Innovation Union” strategy.

The core team is negotiating with important test development companies that have shown interest in cooperating with EMBRACED. This enormous interest makes us think that EMBRACED will have more impact than initially expected.

Data provided by the EMBRACED project on the effects of culture on neurocognitive performance are unprecedented. No other large scale study has been done before studying this relationship.

It is expected that EMBRACED battery will become a key clinical instrument for DSM-5 assessment of neurocognitive disorder or any other condition involving cognitive deterioration. It will enhance diagnosis, which is one of 2020 priority research lines included in the “Health, demographic change and wellbeing” challenge and will help improving care for elderly population, a priority highlighted in H2020.

Given that it is easily translated and adapted to different languages and cultures, EMBRACED battery will help in the assessment of migrating groups throughout Europe and will facilitate embracing cultural differences and creating public policies that respect interethnic differences in Europe.

This project will strengthen Europe´s knowledge base and will position Europe at the forefront in the field of cultural neuroscience.
Project team at UNCW
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