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Research Grants 2006


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2006 Grant - Machover

Creative Music Technologies for Alzheimer Assessment and Treatment

Tod Machover, B.M., M.M.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Cambridge, Massachusetts

2006 Everyday Technologies for Alzheimer Care

A large number of older individuals are at risk for, or may be in the early stages of, cognitive decline. Unfortunately, there is no reliable screening method for such impairments, and a thorough diagnostic workup to detect mild memory and thinking deficits can be complex and time-consuming. Tod Machover, B.M., M.M., and colleagues are working to develop a cognitive assessment tool that can be easily integrated into supervised activities for older adults.

Studies have shown that music therapy may be a useful intervention for people with dementia. Well-designed music activities can address visual-spatial abilities, learning and memory, motor performance, processing speed, problem solving and judgment abilities. In previous work, Machover's team developed music composition experiences that use sensor-outfitted string instruments and specially designed computer software. They have studied this system with a variety of audiences, including older adults.

Using the music composition program as a foundation, the researchers will investigate whether they can replace traditional stimuli for neuropsychological and cognitive assessment with auditory and musical tasks. They will develop a suite of these tasks that can be used to generate a score on visual-spatial, memory, attention, processing speed, problem solving, and judgment abilities, as they relate to diagnoses of Alzheimer's or mild cognitive impairment.

In collaboration with McLean Hospital in Boston, the investigators will evaluate the effectives of the musical tasks-assessment tool against standard diagnostic tools.