Southwestern Assessment of Processing Speed (SWAPS): A new brief test with demographically-corrected norms in an ethnically and educationally diverse population

TARCC Investigators

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Objective. Neuropsychological measures of processing speed have long been used as sensitive indices of cognitive functioning. Most of these commonly used tests are proprietary, and there is a need for brief, freely available tools that can be used in diverse clinical and research settings. The Southwestern Assessment of Processing Speed (SWAPS) is a 60-second digit-symbol transcription task developed as a brief alternative to commercially available coding tests. Demographically-corrected normative data are presented along with reliability and sensitivity/specificity values in older adults with and without cognitive impairment. Method. SWAPS data from 915 healthy aging individuals (NC) and 858 subjects with clinical diagnoses of mild cognitive impairment (MCI; n = 430) and Alzheimer’s disease clinical syndrome (ADCS; n = 428) were obtained from the Texas Alzheimer’s Research and Care Consortium (TARCC). TARCC participants represent ethnically and educationally diverse community-dwelling individuals age 50+. Results. SWAPS scores showed the expected associations with age, sex, and education, and the interaction between age and education were significant predictors of SWAPS scores. Test-retest reliability in NC was good, and the SWAPS distinguished impaired and non-impaired groups with adequate to excellent sensitivity and specificity for the primary analyses, with optimal cut-off points provided. Raw score- to uncorrected normalized T-scores and demographically-corrected SWAPS T-scores using regression-based norms are presented along with scoring programs for the calculation of each. Conclusions. The SWAPS is a brief, free, easily administered test with demographically-corrected regression-based norms and promising utility for detection of cognitive impairment and efficient assessment of processing speed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalClinical Neuropsychologist
StateAccepted/In press - 2021


  • Processing speed
  • T-score norms
  • dementia
  • demographically-corrected norms
  • neuropsychological testing
  • normal aging
  • norms calculator

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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