Intro to NIH Toolbox®

NIH Toolbox includes over 100 stand-alone measures, also available in 30-minute batteries to assess Cognition, Emotion, Motor, and Sensation. 

The NIH Toolbox assesses: 

Cognition: The mental processes involved in gaining knowledge and comprehension, such as thinking, knowing, remembering, judging, and problem-solving. These higher-level functions of the brain encompass language, imagination, perceptions, and the planning and execution of complex behaviors.

Emotion: Any strong feelings, such as joy, sorrow, or fear. An affective state of consciousness in which joy, sorrow, fear, hate, or the like is experienced (as distinguished from cognitive and volitional substates of consciousness). Emotions can be positive or negative and distressing. The NIH Toolbox Emotion measures include four major domains: Psychological Well-Being, Stress and Self-Efficacy, Social Relationships and Negative Affect.

Motor: The ability to use and control muscles and movements. Motor performance includes voluntary control of both fine and gross motor functions including dexterity, strength, balance, locomotion, and endurance. Motor performance also requires the interaction of multiple body systems, including the nervous, muscular, cardiovascular, and sensory-perceptual systems.

Sensation: The biochemical and neurologic process of detecting incoming nerve impulses as nervous system activity. Sensory processers are vital to one's level of independence in relationship with others, academic and occupational endeavors, and activities of daily living.

The NIH Toolbox contains two types of measures:

  • Performance-based tests of function (also known as "objective measures").
  • Self-report and proxy measures (primarily for emotion).

NIH Toolbox is appropriate to use in the general population, in individuals with chronic conditions, and across the lifespan. While many measures can assess function from early childhood, others target specific age bands. All scores for a given domain are on a common scale and can be used for longitudinal measurement.

NIH Toolbox iPad App

The NIH Toolbox measures are available for easy administration using an iPad app (offered in English, Spanish, and Cebuano versions). 

The NIH Toolbox Development Team

The NIH Toolbox Cognition, Emotion, Motor, and Sensation measures were developed by a team of more than 300 scientists from nearly 100 academic institutions as part of the NIH Blueprint for Neuroscience Research.


NIH Toolbox, NIH Toolbox for the Assessment of Neurological and Behavioral Function, and the NIH Toolbox logo are marks owned by the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services.