Dichotic listening, a lab test, indicates which side of the brain is most active during language processing. The iPhone app was launched in 2011.
"We found that the results from the app were as reliable as those of controlled laboratory tests," says Josef Bless, doctoral researcher in psychology, University of Bergen, the journal Frontiers in Psychology reports.
"This means that smartphones can be used as a tool for psychological testing, opening up a wealth of exciting new possibilities," adds Bless. Two years ago, Bless was listening to music on his phone when he suddenly had an idea, according to a Bergen statement.
"I noticed that the sounds of the different instruments were distributed differently between the ears, and it struck me that this was very similar to the tests we routinely use in our lab to measure brain function," says Bless,
More than 1,000 people have downloaded the app, and roughly half have sent their test results to the researchers' database. The researchers analysed the first 167 results they received and compared them with the results of 76 individuals tested in labs in Norway and Australia.
Researchers have also developed a special version of iDichotic for patients with schizophrenia who suffer from auditory hallucinations (hearing voices). The app helps in training patients to improve their focus, so that when they hear voices, they are better able to shut them out.
The app iDichotic has been developed in collaboration with Kenneth Hugdahl, Rene Westerhausen and Magne Gudmundsen.