CNS Vital Signs

Frequently-Asked Questions

Frequently-Asked Questions contains answers to most of the common questions clinicians and administrators ask about CNS Vital Signs. For additional information call 888-750-6941 or email The answers below have been primarily developed for the VS4 Application on the Windows 10 OS. The exact instructions may vary depending on the computer OS operating system and CNS Vital Signs App version you are currently using.

The FAQ categories are:

About CNS Vital Signs

What is CNS Vital Signs?

CNS Vital Signs is a reimbursable assessment procedure that utilizes scientifically validated, objective, and reliable computerized neuropsychological tests to evaluate the neurocognitive status of patients and covers a range of mental processes from simple motor performance, attention, memory, to executive functions. CNS Vital Signs also contains over 50 well known evidence-based clinical and quality measure (behaviors, symptoms, comorbidities, quality-of-life) rating scales. Immediately following the assessment, the software automates a standardized scoring of the patient assessment eliminating variability and rater bias. The assessment platform auto-scores and generates user-friendly reports with summary dashboards, individual responses, and longitudinal views. The neurocognitive report presents the raw test scores, domain scores with a comparison of age-adjusted norms, and an overall neurocognition index.The standardized presentation of the report and its data supports the clinicians' evaluation and management activities.

The use of CNS Vital Signs with other proven neurological exams gives the clinicians a robust view of the patient's neurocognitive status. The assessment platform lends an added dimension to the patient evaluation and generates useful data that can guide one's decisions about ongoing treatments or the need for additional information or whether a referral is warranted.

How is CNS Vital Signs used?

The clinical applications for CNS Vital Signs can be summarized in terms of seven prototypical situations:

  1. Detect and track even slight (millisecond precision) cognitive impairments that can assist clinicians in the evaluation and management of neurodegenerative, neuropsychiatric, neurotraumatic and neurodevelopmental disorders providing immediate clinical insight into a patient's current status and level of impairment.
  2. Help evaluate the possibility of secondary gain e.g., academic accommodation, drug or disability seeking, malingering, symptom feigning etc. with embedded cognitive performance validity indicators.
  3. Give patients, family members and caregivers knowledge of cognitive domains that underpin the ability to conduct activities of daily living.
  4. Automate the collection of guideline recommended clinical and quality measures e.g., PQRS, recommended by professional societies and payers.
  5. Establish a neurocognitive baseline in each patient to use in later treatment decisions
  6. Longitudinally track clinical endpoints to aid in the monitoring and management of many clinical conditions and treatments e.g., measure the response to treatment like AD/HD medication, rehabilitation efforts, cognitive behavioral therapy - CBT, etc. and used to measure clinical outcomes
  7. Help identify referral needs for additional or full neuropsychological evaluations.

How do I access and download the CNS Vital Signs local software assessment platform?

When you register with CNS Vital Signs you can download and install the software, you will be given five fully functional free test administrations to trial and train on the assessment platform. You can also SELECT the "Download Software" button, download and install the local software app, activate the app by registration, and begin testing.

What computerized neuropsychological tests are used in CNS Vital Signs?

The core CNS Vital Signs "BRIEF-CORE" neurocognitive assessment battery consists of seven subtests: Verbal Memory (VBM), Visual Memory (VIM), Finger Tapping (FTT), Symbol Digit Coding (SDC), Stroop Test (ST), Shifting Attention Test (SAT) and the Continuous Performance Test (CPT). There are three additional tests Perception of Emotions (POET), Non-Verbal Reasoning (NVRT), 4-Part Continuous Performance (FPCPT) developed for brain and behavioral specialists. Email or call support for more information about the other tests available. Tests and Domains PDF

What does each subtest of CNS Vital Signs measure?

The CNS Vital Signs "BRIEF-CORE" neurocognitive assessment captures an objective view of eleven basic brain functions: composite memory, verbal memory, visual memory, executive function, processing speed, psychomotor speed, reaction time, complex attention, cognitive flexibility, simple visual attention, and motor speed. The "BRIEF-CORE" battery consists of seven subtests which in different combinations compose the above eleven cognitive domains. CNS Vital Signs includes parallel tests of verbal memory (word list learning) and visual memory (figure learning). The tests are virtually identical, but one uses words as stimuli, the other, geometric shapes. The Finger Tapping Test generates relevant data about fine motor control, which is based on motor speed as well as kinesthetic and visual-motor ability. The Symbol Digit Coding Test generates processing speed data and is included in a composite score for psychomotor speed. The Stroop Test gives important data about three levels of reaction time (simple, complex, Stroop) or, to be more precise, information processing speed. The Shifting Attention Test measures a subject's executive functions (rules, categories, rapid decision making) or their ability to shift from one instruction set to another quickly and accurately. The Continuous Performance Test is a measure of vigilance or sustained attention or attention over time.

What is the normative structure of CNS Vital Signs?

The original seven tests of the CNS Vital Signs neurocognitive assessment platform have been normed in a large sample (n=1662) of normal individuals, from age 8 to 90. "Normals" are defined as healthy individuals, with no active medical condition, and with no history of neurological or psychiatric disorders. Normals may be on stable doses of medications for well-controlled medical conditions, like hypertension or arthritis, but not on any psychotropic medication.

How do I code and get reimbursed for my services?

The CNS Vital Signs procedure codes have been reimbursed by Medicare, Medicaid and almost all private insurance companies when billed using the appropriate ICD-10 codes and modifiers. Most public payer reimburses any licensed practitioner e.g. MD, DO, PhD, PsyD, NP, PA, however, a few health plans reimburse only licensed psychologists, neurologists, psychiatrists or developmental/behavioral specialists. GO TO the Reimbursement section of the CNS Vital Signs website for more detailed reimbursement and coding information.

Have there been any concurrent validity studies comparing CNS Vital Signs to conventional tests?

Yes, refer to "Reliability and Validity of a computerized neurocognitive test battery, CNS Vital Signs", Arch Clin Neuropsychol. 2006 Oct;21(7):623-43.

Clinical Questions

How soon can I retest the same person on CNS Vital Signs?

This is a KEY ADVANTAGE as CNS Vital Signs was designed for serial administration. The words and symbols in the test are auto-randomized from a large bank of potential stimuli generating an unlimited number of alternate forms. This minimizes potential learning effects in serial administration. Tests other than memory tests are routinely administered several times a day in research settings.

How do I know if the neurocognitive assessment is valid?

The CNS Vital Signs Validity Indicator (VI) is a guideline identifying the possibility of an invalid test or domain score. When reviewing a report, a "No" in the VI column suggests the clinician should evaluate whether or not the test subject understood the test, put forth their best effort, or has a clinical condition requiring further evaluation. The Validity Indicator alerts the clinician to the possibility of an invalid test allowing the clinician, examiner or testing technician to question the testing subject: Do the testing results reflect an understanding of the test and the instructions? Did the testing subject put forth their best effort? Did they get a good night's sleep? Does the subject have poor vision and need their glasses? Do the results suggest willful exaggeration, e.g., malingering?

How is the CNS Vital Signs Validity Indicator determined?

The "Validity Indicator" scoring algorithm is based on research presented (Detecting Invalidity In Neurocognitive Tests) at International Society for CNS Clinical Trials and Methodology (ISCTM) in 2009. The poster is available on the CNS Vital Signs website.

Neurocognitive Test Validity Criteria
Verbal Memory Test VERM Correct Hits Immediate + VERM Correct Passes Immediate + VERM Correct Hits Delay + VERM Correct Passes Delay > 30
Visual Memory Test VISM Correct Hits Immediate + VISM Correct Passes Immediate + VISM Correct Hits Delay + VISM Correct Passes Delay > 30
Finger Tapping Test FTT Right Taps Average + FTT Left Taps Average >= 40
Symbol Digit Coding Test SDC Correct Responses >= 20 AND Correct Responses > Errors*
Stroop Test [Simple RT < (Complex RT Correct *0.1)+Complex RT Correct] AND [Complex RT Correct < ( Stroop RT Correct *0.1)+Stroop RT Correct] AND (Complex Correct > Complex Errors) AND (Stroop Correct > Stroop Errors)
Shifting Attention Test SAT Correct Responses > SAT Errors
Continuous Performance Test CPT Correct Responses >= 30 AND CPT Correct Responses > CPT Commission Errors*
Perception of Emotions Test POET Correct Responses > 3 AND POET Correct Responses > POET Commission Errors*
Non Verbal Reasoning Test NVRT Correct Responses >= 4 AND NVRT Correct Responses > NVRT Commission Errors*
Four Part Continuous Performance Test Part 2 Correct Responses > 2 AND Part 2 Correct Responses > Part 2 Incorrect Responses* AND Part 3 Correct Responses > 5 AND Part 3 Correct Responses > Part 3 Incorrect Responses* AND Part 4 Correct Responses > 5 AND Part 4 Correct Responses > Part 4 Incorrect Responses*
Note: FPCPT Part 2, 3, and 4 Commission Errors* are labeled as Incorrect Responses*

Clinical Domains Validity Criteria
Composite Memory Verbal Memory Test and Visual Memory Test are valid
Verbal Memory Verbal Memory Test is valid
Visual Memory Visual Memory Test is valid
Psychomotor Speed Finger Tapping Test and Symbol Digit Coding Test are valid
Reaction Time Stroop Test is valid
Complex Attention Stroop Test, Shifting Attention Test, and Continuous Performance Test are valid
Cognitive Flexibility Shifting Attention Test and Stroop Test are valid
Processing Speed Symbol Digit Coding Test is valid
Social Acuity Perception of Emotions Test is valid
Non-Verbal Reasoning Non Verbal Reasoning Test is valid
Executive Functioning Shifting Attention Test is valid
Working Memory Four Part Continuous Performance Test is valid
Sustained Attention Four Part Continuous Performance Test is valid
Simple Attention Continuous Performance Test is valid
Motor Speed Finger Tapping Test is valid

How are the cognitive domains calculated?

Clinical Domains Domain Score Calculations
Neurocognition Index - NCI Average of five domain scores: Composite Memory, Psychomotor Speed, Reaction Time, Complex Attention , and Cognitive Flexibility ; representing a form of a global score of neurocognition
Composite Memory VBM Correct Hits Immediate + VBM Correct Passes Immediate + VBM Correct Hits Delay + VBM Correct Passes Delay + VIM Correct Hits Immediate + VIM Correct Passes Immediate + VIM Correct Hits Delay + VIM Correct Passes Delay
Verbal Memory VBM Correct Hits Immediate + VBM Correct Passes Immediate + VBM Correct Hits Delay + VBM Correct Passes Delay
Visual Memory VIM Correct Hits Immediate + VIM Correct Passes Immediate + VIM Correct Hits Delay + VIM Correct Passes Delay
Psychomotor Speed FTT Right Taps Average + FTT Left Taps Average + SDC Correct Responses
Reaction Time (ST Complex Reaction Time Correct + Stroop Reaction Time Correct) / 2
Complex Attention Stroop Commission Errors + SAT Errors + CPT Commission Errors + CPT Omission Errors
Cognitive Flexibility SAT Correct Responses - SAT Errors - Stroop Commission Errors
Processing Speed SDC Correct Responses - SDC Errors
Executive Function SAT Correct Responses - SAT Errors
Working Memory (4PCPT Part 4 Correct Responses) - (4PCPT Part 4 Incorrect Responses)
Sustained Attention (4PCPT Part 2 Correct Responses + 4PCPT Part 3 Correct Responses + 4PCPT Part 4 Correct Responses) - (4PCPT Part 2 Incorrect Responses + 4PCPT Part 3 Incorrect Responses + 4PCPT Part 4 Incorrect Responses)
Social Acuity POET Correct Responses - POET Commission Errors
Reasoning (non-verbal) NVRT Correct Responses - NVRT Commission Errors
Simple Attention Continuous Performance (CPT) Correct Responses minus CPT Commission Errors
Motor Speed Finger Tapping Test Right Taps Average + Finger Tapping Test Left Taps Average

Abbreviations Defined: VBM - Verbal Memory Test; VIM - Visual Memory Test; SDC - Symbol Digit Coding Test; SAT - Shifting Attention Test; FTT - Finger Tapping Test; ST - Stroop Test; CPT - Continuous Performance Test; 4PCPT - Four Part CPT; POET - Perception of Emotions Test; NVR - Non- verbal Reasoning Test.

What is the Neurocognition Index?

The Neurocognition Index reflects the overall or global neurocognitive functioning of the test taker. It is an average or the standard scores for five of the domains (composite memory, psychomotor speed, reaction time, complex attention and cognitive flexibility) that reflect the patient's performance on each assessment.

Technical Questions

What operating systems does the CNS Vital Signs VS4 local software run on?

The CNS VS4 local software app is designed to operate on laptops and desktops with at least 1GB RAM and 5GB available hard drive space. Additional disk space is needed for testing data storage.

CNS Vital Signs local software applications require:

  • Windows: Windows 7 or greater operating system. It also requires that the DirectX "OK" button be selected during the VS4 install. A VS4 Windows install uses about 70MB of disk space. Runs on a 32bit (x86) or 64bit (x64) processor.
  • Apple Mac: VS4 will run on Mac OS 10.6.8 or higher using an Intel processor. A VS4 Mac install uses about 50MB of disk space. When you install the Mac version you will be prompted for the Administrator password.

CNS Vital Signs assessment platforms are fully functional when test sessions remain on the counter displayed in the CNS Vital Signs applications initial window. Downloading software upgrades and purchasing additional assessment sessions can be performed by visiting

What do I need to do with my computer to ensure optimum performance of CNS Vital Signs?

Ideally, computerized tests should run on a dedicated computer; however, CNS Vital Signs will run on any computer that meets our basic system requirements (see above). It is important that CNS Vital Signs is the only application open and running during testing. Additional programs should be closed; spyware scanners, virus scanners and automatic updates should be turned off and/or scheduled during a non-testing period of time.

Is special hardware required to use CNS Vital Signs?

No special hardware is required to run CNS Vital Signs. You will need a computer, monitor, and keyboard to run the application. A printer is necessary if you will be printing out the patient report at the conclusion of the test.

How large is the report file?

The test report file is approximately 200-300KB depending on the number of tests and questionnaires administered.

How large is the software application once loaded?

Depending on the version you use, the CNS Vital Signs software application is fully installed it between 10 and 50 MB. Additional disk space is required to store testing data.

How long does the download take?

With a typical broadband connection, the download will take less than 30 seconds. The installer package is about 23 MB.

Is the report saved automatically?

Yes, the local software application stores the testing reports locally on the computer's hard drive and the online testing app collects testing reports in the CNSVS Online Account. Local software app(s) via multiple testing stations can be backed up to a clinics network server or the reports can be securely uploaded to the CNSVS Online Account.

How do I export the test data for analysis?

To export test data for analysis, open the application and SELECT the MENU button found in the top left hand corner of the initial CNS Vital Signs test screen (directly across from Help). Click on the Export button. Highlight the file(s) you want to export. Click Export and select the program to which you want to export the data.

How do I customize the test panels or toolboxes from the CNS VS defaults?

To customize the CNS Vital Signs local software app assessment test panels / toolboxes open the application and SELECT the MENU button found in the top left hand corner of the initial CNS Vital Signs screen. SELECT the Preferences button > Assessment Tab. To custom configure the test panels/toolboxes according to your needs 1) SELECT a "Test Configuration" test panel name 2) rename the test panel if needed 3) select the subtests and scales 4) SELECT OK. You can also select the default test language, and SELECT the status of the report password requirement. Other customization preferences can be found by choosing the other tabs under Preferences.

How do I export my testing results into my electronic medical record (EMR)?

First, if not available add a PDF viewer/reader to your computer. Second, Set-up your CNS Vital Signs app to Display in a PDF format by selecting the MENU button found in the top left hand corner of the initial CNS Vital Signs screen. SELECT the Preferences button > REPORT Tab. SELECT the PDF report format and SELECT OK. This will enable the report generated at the end of testing to present in a PDF format and saved to your EMR. You can also select the default report type, and page size. Other customization preferences can be found by choosing the other tabs under Preferences.

What is the re-test feature?

This feature allows you to re-test any subject, using the same subject ID, who has taken CNS Vital Signs within a 7 day period of time without being charged an additional session. This feature is especially helpful for those subjects who may have misinterpreted the directions during the initial testing or when doing a test-dose paradigm. This functionality can be found by opening the application and CLICK on the MENU button found in the top left hand corner of the initial CNS Vital Signs test screen (directly across from Help). Click on Re-Test.

How do I backup test reports?

To backup test reports, SELECT the MENU button found in the top left hand corner of the initial CNS Vital Signs screen. SELECT the Preferences button > BACKUP Tab. SELECT the "Backups enabled" box. Select the appropriate backup location e.g. network server file, cloud service, etc. and click OK. You can also manually back up the reports by copying all the *.res files to a cd or USB drive. Clients can also enable the SYNC functionality and collect all the testing station(s) data on the CNSVS Online servers. Reports can then either be accessed locally or via the web. To SYNC to the CNSVS Online servers SELECT the MENU > Preferences button > ONLINE Tab and enter your account number > CHECK Enable upload and SELECT the OK button.

What is User Management?

This is recommended for advanced users who understand the concept of user roles. The User Management feature enables sites to track Test Administrator usage of CNS Vital Signs and provides means for access control to the application and its features. To enable the User Management CLICK on the MENU button found in the top left hand corner of the initial CNS Vital Signs test screen (directly across from Help). Click on the Preferences button. Click on the Users Tab. When User Management is enabled for the first time it will request a System Administrator password. In order to provide security to the configuration parameters, this password is required to access Preferences and a new feature, View Log, whilst User Management is enabled. Once User Management is enabled the System Administrator will be able to add, modify, and delete Test Administrator users to the local software.

Test Administration Questions

Who should take CNS Vital Signs?

CNS Vital Signs has been normed on a sample of individuals from ages 8 to 89. The test was designed to be self-administered; however, younger children and older adults who take the test often need a family member with them to ensure that they understand the instructions.

Who should not take CNS Vital Signs?

Individuals who are unable to read should not take CNS Vital Signs. CNS Vital Signs is not appropriate for older adults who are severely demented. Individuals with MMSE scores less than 20 may not be able to perform some of the more complicated tests. There are "spacebar" only tests for individuals who may be impaired.

Can the test subject be left alone during testing?

Yes, CNS Vital Signs was designed for self-administration. It is sometimes helpful to ask a technician or a family member to sit in with an elderly or young test taker to assure test instruction comprehension.

What are the optimal CNS Vital Signs test taking conditions?

CNS Vital Signs is ideally administered in a quiet environment with minimal interruptions. A separate testing room is ideal; however, it is not necessary. A white noise maker or screen will adequately assure quiet test taking conditions.

How do I begin administration of CNS Vital Signs?

Test administration can be performed by a non-clinical staff person. To begin, SELECT the CNS VS "Blue Brain" Icon on your desktop or click on the Windows Start button (lower left hand of the desktop) > All Apps > CNS Vital Signs and Click on the CNS Vital Signs Blue Brain. You should momentarily see the initial screen of the CNS Vital Signs application. Then enter a Patient ID or Subject Reference Number and subsequently a date of birth when queried for it. The date of birth is necessary to generate a standard score. Then enter any desired demographic information CLICK OK and select the appropriate language, toolbox/test panel and/or tests and rating scales. CLICK OK and begin testing.

What do I enter for Patient ID / Subject Reference ID?

The Patient ID or testing Subject Reference ID can be an alphanumeric entry. Users are encouraged to follow HIPAA guidelines when choosing an appropriate patient or subject ID. Practices are encouraged to set a standard Patient / Subject ID policy for securely referencing patients / subjects with a unique identifier. VERY IMPORTANT: The Subject Reference ID is used to select reports for longitudinal graphing.

Do I need to complete the entire Demographic page?

No, only subject reference and date of birth is required. The demographic page allows the test administrator to capture information on the test taker prior to testing. This data can be accessed at a later point in time for analysis and outcome based studies. The remaining fields are available for entry per your needs.

How do I switch the test language?

CNS Vital Signs neurocognitive tests are available in 60 languages. To choose a specific language, use the drop down box labeled Test Language from the third "Confirm Test Settings" screen.

Is it possible to get the test report in a different language?

Currently, our test reports are only available in English.

How do I customize the assessment platform and run only specific tests?

You will have the option to run a specific test or group of tests and scales on the Test Confirmation screen. Simply check or uncheck those tests and scales you would like to add or omit during testing. Clinicians can individually customize their local software toolbox or test/scale configuration settings by selecting the MENU button then clicking the PREFERENCES button and Assessment tab. Clinicians can also collaborate with our practice development staff to individually customize their web and local applications. To customize your web-based testing needs or to learn more about the CNS Vital Signs functionality contact our support team at

What is the CNS Vital Signs "End of Testing" Test Administrator Password?

By default, an administrator password is required to view the test report. The password is "cnsvs" lowercase.

Assessment Report Questions

Is the report generated automatically or must I send away for the results?

On the local software once the administrator password (cnsvs) is entered, the report is generated automatically. The report can be sent to your EMR and/or printed immediately and provides both the clinical snapshot of the neurocognitive tests and domain scores. The report format can be configured in numerous ways.

How do I access the demographic data I entered?

To access the demographic data entered during test administration, you must export the file to an appropriate application (such as Notepad or Excel) to view the data. To do this, CLICK on the MENU button found in the top left hand corner of the initial CNS Vital Signs test screen. SELECT the Export button. Highlight the report(s) you want to view and click Export.

Do I need to save the report?

CNS Vital Signs local software automatically saves the test data and report to the testing computer. The data files are saved the CNS Vital Signs directory in the Data folder. Web-based assessments are automatically stored in your account on the CNSVS Online servers.

Purchasing Questions

What is the cost of CNS Vital Signs?

CNS Vital Signs is $35 US dollars per test session. Volume purchases receive substantial discounts.

Do I get a discount for bulk test purchases?

Yes, discount pricing is available for bulk purchases.

  • Purchase 10 Assessment Sessions @ 35.00 = USD 350.00
  • Purchase 25 Assessment Sessions @ 34.00 = USD 850.00
  • Purchase 50 Assessment Sessions @ 33.00 = USD 1,650.00
  • Purchase 100 Assessment Sessions @ 30.00 = USD 3,000.00

For discounts on larger purchases, please contact us at

Do you offer special pricing for research endeavors?

Students, interns, residents and fellows doing research receive additional discounts, as do academic and government groups. Research must be of scientific merit and a brief description of the project is necessary. Email us at for additional information.

Do you have international pricing?

Yes, we offer special pricing for international customers. Please contact our office for additional information,

How do I pay for additional sessions?

We accept payment by Visa, MasterCard and American Express. For special payment arrangements such as purchase orders or invoicing please contact us at

Is the CNS Vital Signs website secure?

Yes, the CNS Vital Signs website use 128 bit encryption. All data including screen images, file transfers, credit card details, etc. are encrypted.

Can I purchase additional sessions by phone?

Purchases can be made over the phone. Please call 888-750-6941 for assistance.

If I have more than one CNS Vital Signs testing computer, how do I buy tests for each?

The VS4 platform provides an ASSESSMENT STAGING or SHARING function that allows efficient test session allocation and tracking across all VS4 apps whether in single or large practices, and/or multiple clinic locations. Every current and future customer will have a CNS Vital Signs Account. To access you CNS Vital Signs Account, SELECT the "Account Sign-In" button from the homepage. Your "sign-up" username email and password will be needed to ACCESS your Account. Once in your account SELECT the "Place Order/Purchase" button. The CNS Vital Signs Account purchase function is in a SHOPPING CART format. This new functionality allows customers to obtain the best discount. For assistance or alternative arrangements e.g., no internet connectivity, please call 888-750-6941.

What is the cost of the CNS Vital Signs custom keyboard?

The custom keyboard is $55 US dollars. This price includes shipping and handling. The keyboard can be purchased by SELECTING the "Account Sign-In" button from the homepage. Your "sign-up" username email and password will be needed to ACCESS your Account. Once in your account SELECT the "Place Order/Purchase" button. The CNS Vital Signs Account purchase function is in a SHOPPING CART format.