RACE--the Rapid Assessment for Cognitive Enhancement
What is this?
RACE is a screening tool for use with Quantified Self-type experiments. The goal of RACE is to design a psychometric test that can be used as a very fast screening tool to determine whether some intervention is likely to improve mental performance.
RACE is designed to:
- Be as brief as possible (taking the RACE test takes only a couple of minutes) in order to make frequent testing feasible.
- Be sensitive to improvements in a broad range of mental functions
- Have minimal practice effects
It is important to note that RACE is not designed to be a comprehensive cognitive test. Rather, it is designed as a "screening" test to determine whether some manipulation affects overall mental acuity and cognitive function prior to a more involved experiment using traditional cognitive tests focused on specific areas.
How does RACE work?RACE is a combination of two kinds of cognitive tests--a 2-back memory test and a choice reaction time test. These tests are fairly good measures of a latent variable called "fluid intelligence".
What areas of cognitive performance does RACE measure?
The RACE test is sensitive to alertness, sustained attention capacity, working memory capacity, overall speed of processing, and set maintainance/set shifting. Many "cognitive enhancements" (nootropics, exotic sleep schedules, etc.) work by altering one or more of these variables, so their effect should be detected on this test.
Unfortunately, it is impossible for a single broad cognitive test to detect all possible enhancement of cognitive function. In particular, cognitive enhancers that selectivley enhance only one specific aspect of cognitive function (i.e. mental rotation ability) or that act on long-term processes (like learning) may be detected poorly by RACE.