Conference Paper

Motif: a wearable sonic cueing device for memory support and cognitive intervention

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Alzheimer's is the 6th most leading cause of death in the United States, more lethal than breast and prostate cancer combined [1]. Currently, there are over 5.5 million Americans suffering from this disease. Inspired by this concept, we created Motif, a wearable device to support members of our society who need it most. Motif is an aesthetically pleasing, auditory cueing system for individuals at risk or suffering from Alzheimer's. By playing songs in response to particular people, places and situations, Motif is able to trigger memories and provide context. Patients at risk for Alzheimer's or individuals struggling with memory concerns can greatly benefit from this wearable musical intervention, to improve their wellbeing and quality of life.

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... Other technologies, such as the SenseCam [74], focus on automatically collecting data of the wearer's day, but they require users to manually look at the data collected. More recently, researchers have designed different types of interventions for memory aid [84] [47] [74][69] [27], such as technologies based on augmented reality [69] [27]. ...
... Other technologies, such as the SenseCam [74], focus on automatically collecting data of the wearer's day, but they require users to manually look at the data collected. More recently, researchers have designed different types of interventions for memory aid [84] [47] [74][69] [27], such as technologies based on augmented reality [69] [27]. ...
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A person's emotional state can strongly influence their ability to achieve optimal task performance. Aiming to help individuals manage their feelings, different emotion regulation technologies have been proposed. However, despite the well-known influence that emotions have on task performance, no study to date has shown if an emotion regulation technology can also enhance user's cognitive performance in the moment. In this paper, we present BoostMeUp, a smartwatch intervention designed to improve user's cognitive performance by regulating their emotions unobtrusively. Based on studies that show that people tend to associate external signals that resemble heart rates as their own, the intervention provides personalized haptic feedback simulating a different heart rate. Users can focus on their tasks and the intervention acts upon them in parallel, without requiring any additional action. The intervention was evaluated in an experiment with 72 participants, in which they had to do math tests under high pressure. Participants who were exposed to slow haptic feedback during the tests decreased their anxiety, increased their heart rate variability and performed better in the math tests, while fast haptic feedback led to the opposite effects. These results indicate that the BoostMeUp intervention can lead to positive cognitive, physiological and behavioral changes.
Conference Paper
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Music therapy is a potential non-pharmacological treatment for the behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia, but although some studies have found it to be helpful, most are small and uncontrolled. This case-control study was carried out by qualified music therapists in two nursing homes and two psychogeriatric wards. The participants were 38 patients with moderate or severe Alzheimer's disease (AD) assigned randomly to a music therapy group and a control group. The study showed a significant reduction in activity disturbances in the music therapy group during a 6-week period measured with the Behavior Pathology in Alzheimer's Disease Rating Scale (BEHAVE-AD). There was also a significant reduction in the sum of scores of activity disturbances, aggressiveness and anxiety. Other symptoms rated by subscales of the BEHAVE-AD did not decrease significantly. Four weeks later the effects had mostly disappeared. Music therapy is a safe and effective method for treating agitation and anxiety in moderately severe and severe AD. This is in line with the results of some non-controlled studies on music therapy in dementia.
Wagner's leitmotifs were intentionally constructed as compact, discrete musical units charged with extramusical meaning. Should they be considered merely as arbitrary signifiers, whose signifieds are discovered only through the dramatic context of their appearance? The research reported here rejects this possibility, demonstrating experimentally that the leitmotifs bear inherent meaning. It is this meaning that grants them their communicative potential and provides a basis for the specific message given them in the setting of the specific musical work. A selection of nine representative leitmotifs from Wagner's Ring cycle was played to subjects during the course of a two-part experiment. The first part, which was designed on the basis of the semantic differential technique, yielded several significant factors that defined an inclusive connotative space. The second part of the experiment was designed and evaluated according to the "semantic integral" method, which was developed for the purpose of adding a denotative dimension, using titles given to the leitmotifs by the subjects. The results substantiated the existence of complementary relations between the connotative and denotative aspects of the leitmotifs. Findings of this sort should assist in explaining how the leitmotifs function within the dramatic context. The methods applied, as well as the findings arrived at, disclose, we believe, essential characteristics of the semantic structure of music in general.
Background: Language deficits in people with Alzheimer's disease (AD) manifest, among other things, in a gradual deterioration of spontaneous speech. People with AD tend to speak less as the disease progresses and their speech becomes confused. However, the ability to sing old tunes sometimes remains intact throughout the disease. Objective: The purpose of this study was to explore the role of singing familiar songs in encouraging conversation among people with middle to late stage AD. Methods: Six participants attended group music therapy sessions over a one-month period. Using content analysis, we qualitatively examined transcriptions of verbal and sung content during 8 group sessions for the purpose of understanding the relationship between specific songs and conversations that occurred during and following group singing. Results: Content analysis revealed that songs from the participants' past-elicited memories, especially songs related to their social and national identity. Analyses also indicated that conversation related to the singing was extensive and the act of group singing encouraged spontaneous responses. After singing, group members expressed positive feelings, a sense of accomplishment, and belonging. Conclusions: Carefully selecting music from the participants' past can encourage conversation. Considering the failure in spontaneous speech in people with middle to late stage AD, it is important to emphasize that group members' responses to each other occurred spontaneously without the researcher's encouragement.
Conference Paper
This report proposes a thermal media system, ThermOn, which enables users to feel dynamic hot and cold sensations on their body corresponding to the sound of music. Thermal sense plays a significant role in the human recognition of environments and influences human emotions. By employing thermal sense in the music experience, which also greatly affects human emotions, we have successfully created a new medium with an unprecedented emotional experience. With ThermOn, a user feels enhanced excitement and comfort, among other responses. For the initial prototype, headphone-type interfaces were implemented using a Peltier device, which allows users to feel thermal stimuli on their ears. Along with the hardware, a thermal-stimulation model that takes into consideration the characteristics of human thermal perception was designed. The prototype device was verified using two methods: the psychophysical method, which measures the skin potential response and the psychometric method using a Likert-scale questionnaire and open-ended interviews. The experimental results suggest that ThermOn (a) changes the impression of music, (b) provides comfortable feelings, and (c) alters the listener's ability to concentrate on music in the case of a rock song. Moreover, these effects were shown to change based on the methods with which thermal stimuli were added to music (such as temporal correspondence) and on the type of stimuli (warming or cooling). From these results, we have concluded that the ThermOn system has the potential to enhance the emotional experience when listening to music.
An action research project implemented musical strategies to affect and enhance student recall and memory. The target population was three suburban elementary schools near a major midwestern city: (1) a kindergarten classroom contained 32-38 students; (2) a second grade classroom contained 23 students and five Individualized Education Program (IEP) students; and (3) a fifth grade classroom. Students exhibited difficulty recalling facts and information in a variety of subject areas evidenced through an inability to gain mastery of grade level skill areas. Research suggests that young students have difficulty understanding concepts and lack the ability and desire to learn. A successful program needs to be developed to teach these concepts. A review of solution strategies suggests that the following musical techniques proved to be helpful for increasing student recall because the songs helped with phonemic training, mnemonics, setting desired skills to familiar tunes, and linking connection to cultural themes. Research has shown that preschool children taught with an early exposure to music through games and songs showed an IQ advantage of 10 to 20 points over those children taught without exposure to the songs. In the same study, students at age 15, had higher reading and mathematics scores in comparison to children without musical experiences. Brain studies indicate that exposure to music alters and increases brain function to make the necessary connections for higher order thinking. Post-intervention data indicated an increase in students' memory recall and emotional involvement. All these increases promoted the motivational connection, which encouraged additional success. Post-intervention data also indicated that the students learned the material so well that they were able to transfer skills across the curriculum into other subject areas, and into their personal lives. Includes extensive figures and tables. Appended are: parent questionnaire and tally sheets, student questionnaire and tally sheets, rubric and rubric tally sheets, pretest and posttest comparison sheets, and reflection journal sheets. (Contains 52 references.) (Author/BT)
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