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Retrospective harmonisation feasibility: documenting cognitive ability measurement across the studies

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A second stage of the work that underpins this guide was to explore and evaluate the feasibility of deriving retrospectively harmonised measures of cognition. Selected learning from this work is summarised here and full details of the retrospective harmonisation approach established and learnings achieved are available in the report below.

In assessing this feasibility, few occasions were identified where the same cognitive tests were measured. However, in some instances different measures did assess potentially comparable aspects of cognition, i.e. similar domains of cognitive ability.

Consequently, tables of overlapping measures and cognitive constructs in the British birth cohorts were produced which can help aid the selection of tests that might be candidates for retrospective harmonisation.

These tables were created using the Cattell-Horn-Carroll (CHC) model of cognitive ability, as set out in the introductory section of this guide.


The tables produced through this work are available below, and are arranged by cohort study and age group.

These tables describe measures that were administered to entire cohorts only (i.e. cognitive tests administered solely to targeted sub-samples were not considered for harmonisation due to their smaller sample sizes and lack of generalisability).

This section focused only on measures that were:

  1. administered to the cohort members (any measures administered to the cohorts’ parents, children of the cohort members or other parties were not included), and
  2. designed specifically to assess theoretically defined cognitive abilities, such as fluid reasoning, working memory, lexical knowledge, or verbal comprehension (tests used to assess basic levels of skills, e.g. basic adult literacy, were not included).

Tests are categorised according to the main cognitive domain they are reported to assess. However, please note that, in practice, most cognitive tests require a range of cognitive abilities to complete.

Explore coverage and overlap in cognitive ability measurement

By cohort study

By age

Detailed harmonisation feasibility report

A full report on the harmonisation feasibility work is available for further information: