CLARITY researcher Eamonn Newman has been involved with a piece in the Science Gallery GAME Exhibit which runs until Jan 20th.
The work at hand is an originally developed game with a serious purpose; to improve communication and reinforce autobiographical memory in older adults with dementia. This work represents one of the many functions that a GAME can fulfil, and future directions in using games to improve cognitive functioning.
The project is a platform adventure game version of the popular Lifebook format used in reminiscence therapies for older adults with dementia. Reminiscence therapy is a format which acknowledges that older adults with dementia may not remember the recent past, but their retention for early life is good. Building upon recall of early events has been shown to improve communication and mood among older adults with dementia, and can even improve the memory of later life events. This type of memory is known as autobiographical memory. We aim to improve autobiographical memory among older adults with dementia by creating an interactive, video game version of the traditionally paper-based lifebook. Research shows that anything which increases processing at the stage of input also ultimately improves the recall of that input later on. We aim to involve the older adult with dementia as much as possible with MyLife, since they have to respond to multiple questions about their life and provide details. A form of rehearsal will then take place when the game story has been generated; where the person will have the opportunity to roam around the 2d platform world of MyLife, interacting with other characters (their loved ones), and experiencing major life events (e.g. the birth of their children, their workplace, etc). this will be achieved by creating a toolbox of potential parameters for the individual’s life story. At prototype stage, the game will be simple, but we still believe that this will be an interactive, fun and rewarding opportunity for people to engage in. this format also promotes intergenerational interactions, since children and grandchildren will be eager to involve themselves in the video game format. The display of this game in the Science Gallery will alert the general public to the important cognitive benefits of video games, in particular to an unlikely and hitherto overlooked cohort: older adults.
Joanna McHugh is a postdoctoral psychologist currently working in the Dem@Care project, a European Commission funded project investigating the use of sensor technologies in prolonging independent care for older adults with dementia. Eamonn Newman is based in DCU and works as a research fellow with CLARITY investigating sensor technologies in connected health projects, including Dem@Care. Desmond O' Mahony is a current PhD student at the School of Psychology, Trinity College Dublin. He also works as a part time research assistant on the Dem@care project. Lee Tobin studied in the School for Improvisational Music in New York and has composed scores for several short films, composed for and led several jazz ensembles in Dublin. His compositional style can be said to range from Bartok to Black Sabbath, orchestration ranging from guitar to Gameboy.
The MyLife team are researchers working on the Dem@Care project, which is funded by the European Community's 7th Framework programme (FP7/2007-2013) under grant agreement 288199 - Dem@Care.