NIH Toolbox for Assessment of Neurological and Behavioral Function

Main Area of Focus

Girl and Woman with iPad

The NIH Toolbox provides brief, easy-to-administer tests of motor, cognitive, sensory and emotional function that can be used by researchers and clinicians in a variety of settings, with a particular emphasis on measuring outcomes both in longitudinal epidemiologic studies and prevention or intervention trials. The battery has been normed and validated across the lifespan in subjects ages 3-85 and its use ensures that assessment methods and results can be used for comparisons across existing and future studies. By providing a “common currency” for the study of neurological research, the NIH Toolbox enables economies of scale and enhances effi¬ciency. The NIH Toolbox is capable of monitoring neurological and behavioral function over time and measuring key constructs across developmental stages.

The NIH works directly with Northwestern University to distribute and maintain the NIH Toolbox.  


In 2004, the 15 Institutes, Centers and Of¬fices at NIH that support neuroscience research formed a coalition called the Blueprint for Neuroscience Research. The NIH Blueprint goal was to develop new tools, resources, and training opportunities to accelerate the pace of discovery in neuroscience research. Because the research community had long sought the development of standard instruments to measure neurological and behavioral health, in 2006 the NIH Blueprint awarded a contract to develop an innovative approach to meet this need. Under the leadership of Dr. Richard Gershon, Principal Investigator, a team of more than 250 scientists from nearly 80 academic institutions were charged with developing a set of state-of-the-art tools to enhance data collection in large cohort studies and to advance the neurobehavioral research enterprise.

The NIH Toolbox is an integrated set of tools for measuring cognitive, emotional, motor and sensory function. These tools were created for use with diverse cultures, ethnic and geographic groups, ages and study types.

The NIH Toolbox:

  • Offers easy access by iPad app with low annual subscription fee
  • Uses state-of-the art psychometric approaches, including computer adaptive testing
  • Provides individual measures administered in minutes and a complete domain in 30 minutes or less 
  • Is available in English and Spanish
  • Offers both online and in-person training


Richard Gershon, PhD
Principal Investigator, NIH Toolbox 
Feinberg School of Medicine
Northwestern University

Julie Hook, MBA, PhD
Product Manager, NIH Toolbox
Feinberg School of Medicine
Northwestern University

Molly V. Wagster, Ph.D.
Lead NIH Project Officer, NIH Toolbox 
Division of Neuroscience

Related Resources


Special journal issues devoted to NIH Toolbox: