Enabling technologies in Alzheimer’s disease research and care

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The Centre for Dementia Prevention brings together scientists across different disciplines to draw expertise from a wide range of work carried out in the field of medicine. As part of delivering translational research at the centre, the Technology and Communications Research Group, led by Dr Saturnino Luz, is created to enable the use of technology in Alzheimer’s disease research and dementia prevention work.

We are delighted to have met today to plan out further collaboration in developing personalised approaches in dementia research. While the Technology and Communications Research Group involves researchers from a variety of backgrounds, the aim of the group is to investigate potential uses and benefits of computing technology and robotics for cognitive decline. A lot of the work involves analysing verbal interactions and paralinguistic signals, both in an outwardly healthy population as well as in a clinical population with people living with dementia and carers.

The Technology and Communications group’s work includes both monitoring and detecting changes in cognition over time for better disease modelling as well as using technology as an intervention measure in Alzheimer’s dementia secondary prevention. The group is developing exciting new technologies to record interactions between patients and clinicians to learn more about communication in a clinical setting and how this might influence a disease course.

Aside from looking into the patient, clinician and possibly carer interactions, the group is developing machine learning technologies to use as outcome measures in Alzheimer’s disease clinical trials. The use of technology will help ensure Alzheimer’s disease clinical trials measure whether a drug has a real world impact on the patient and their carer taking into account patient preferences in treatment options. This work is delivered as the electronic Person Specific Outcome Measures (ePSOM) project funded by Alzheimer’s Research UK.

The group is involved with a number of projects closely linked, with the EU-funded £3.5 million SAAM project (Supporting Active Ageing through Multimodal coaching) commencing this month, Edinburgh leading the research on specialised wellbeing monitoring and assessment, including detection of cognitive decline.

We are excited about the on-going research in the technology field and look forward to linking many of the advances in computing with other Centre for Dementia projects to use state of the art assessment and measuring tools in our work. Dr Luz and colleagues will also be present at the Centre for Dementia Prevention conference in November where they will be show casing some of the technology developed in their lab.