Call for participants: Dementia study

Turing Fellow Maria Liataka (Associate Professor at the University of Warwick, Department of Computer Science) is conducting a study to develop a prototype software that could help improve diagnosis and monitoring of dementia through automated analysis of language use by people living with dementia.

She is seeking participants for her study and would be grateful if Turing researchers could flag the opportunity via any relevant networks.

About the study

The study is conducted in collaboration with Dr Matthew Purver at Queen Mary University London, Drs Maria Wolters (Turing Fellow), Sarah MacPherson and Tom Russ at Edinburgh University, Prof Martin Underwood at the Warwick Medical School, and a committee of volunteers, including Sarah Reed of ManyHappyReturns.org and commercial company Clinvivo, who specializes in clinical trials using mobile devices.

During this pilot study a group of 30 people (20 people with dementia and 10 aged matched controls) will be invited to use a computer tablet application daily, which has purpose built software provided by the study to record 15 minutes of conversations with their carer or written thoughts based on a selection of images from the past, provided by the application.  Each participant will spend three 4-week periods on the study, which will span a 54-week period (just over a year).

The images on the tablet application are from the 1950s or 1960s and depict different aspects of life in Britain from this time period. These images have been provided by ManyHappyReturns.org and have been successfully used in care homes to engage with people living with dementia.

Once data is collected, the research team will work on analysing the language data using computational and statistical methods designed to track use of vocabulary and syntax, emotional content, fluency, topic relevance and how these features interact and change over time.

This will allow building computational models for predicting dementia presence and severity. It is anticipated that this work can result in novel, cost-effective tools for diagnosis and monitoring of dementia.

If successful, this technology could be embedded in mobile phones, laptops and tablets to passively monitor changes in language usage and emotional fluctuation and alert users, health providers and carers. Judging from feedback by Alzheimer’s volunteers advising the study, participants should enjoy the daily dialogue with their carers and interaction with the image material from the past. It is  expected that the study will have a positive effect on the participants’ wellbeing.

Training for participants and their carers

The study team has organised a set of training days to support participants and their carers in using the tablet application. The training days will take place at The Alan Turing Institute in London (in the British Library near Euston and Kings Cross) on the following dates: 11, 19 September, 10, 18 October with two more dates to be announced in late October and early November (either 25 or 26 October and 7 or 8 November). Travel and expenses and meals will be provided during the training days.

Contact and additional information

Please see the link to the study web page where you can find the participant information sheet, a poster, a video and a presentation document with more information about the study.

Interested participants should register as soon as possible for training days in October and September.  The final closing date for registration is Wednesday 1 November 2017.

For any further queries please contact Dr Liakata at m.liakata@warwick.ac.uk directly.