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TOVA: a purposefully boring test.
TOVA: a purposefully boring test.


How long can you pay attention to a moving dot? “Everyone fails the test, but in very interesting ways,” says Andrew Greenberg, CTO of The TOVA Company. The TOVA (Test of Variables of Attention) is a computerized, objective assessment of attention that very accurately records response times to a series of stimuli. The TOVA compares these response times to a study with thousands of people to assess what normal attention looks like. Clinicians use the TOVA to assess attention for a variety of conditions, including Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, traumatic brain injury, and other neurological conditions like Alzheimer’s.

Attention tests are criticized because of insufficient normal data, poor test design, and the terrible timing inherent in most standard PC hardware and operating systems. The TOVA solves these problems with a real-time operating system and microswitch, better test design, and the largest norming study of any attention test. It is also free from cultural and language bias, since it flashes geometric shapes and uses pure auditory tones rather than words. Open to internationalization, the TOVA is currently in use around the world. 

Outside of his work on the TOVA, Andrew also teaches in the Electrical and Computer Engineering department of PSU. “PSU is an amazing resource,” says Andrew. PSU provides a connection with interns, as well as leading-edge thought in psychology, engineering, and business. The act of teaching develops management and technical skills, both of which are critical for a start-up engineering company.

Collaboration is key at The TOVA Company. “Moving into the Accelerator was one of the best things that’s happened to us,” says Andrew, because of the resources and relationships that came with it. The TOVA Company even shares space, supplies, and some personnel with APDM, a related medical device company. This collaboration allows the two small companies to share resources, knowledge, and know-how.