New Technology to Help Dementia Patients Recover Lost Memories

Service Engineering

Researchers at Heriot-Watt and Strathclyde University are working on an agent with an autobiographical memory similar to a human memory. They hope that it will be able to recount tales to help people with dementia recover aspects of their memory. This research is part of an EPSRC-funded project called 'Agent-based Memory Prosthesis to Encourage Reminiscing' (AMPER).

The technology will be used by both patients and carers in their homes. It sets out to use stories based off of the real world and may include similar experiences to ones that the patient has encountered at some point in their life.

“The main notion of the study is that we can help recollection therapy“

Prof. Ruth Aylett at Heriot-Watt University, explained that "The main notion of the study is that we can help recollection therapy. Reminiscence therapy is a way of coordinated storytelling with an elderly person with dementia, in which you exercise their early memories which tend to be retained much longer than more recent ones, and produce an interesting interactive experience for them, often using supporting materials — so you might use photographs for instance.”

She continued: “Human memory isn’t like a database … it’s an associative structure, it has a network. You can move from one memory to another which is what people do when they’re reminiscing, so building a model of the way human memory works is likely to provide a much smoother and more interesting reminiscence therapy approach than plucking things out of a database.”

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