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Grant Reilly


1st May 2022

Healthy Ageing

Technologies for Brain Health and Dementia Prevention Workshop

The Scottish Dementia Research Consortium (SDRC) and the Digital Health & Care Innovation Centre (DHI) hosted a two-day event that encapsulated keynote speakers and interactive workshop sessions, which focused on technologies for brain health and dementia prevention. This collaborative event was classified as the June Healthy Ageing Innovation Cluster Event.

Innovative technologies that support and enhance brain health are growing as fast as the changing needs of those with dementia. Scotland is a hub of technological innovation. We, therefore, have the knowledge, experience and expertise among us to leverage this wealth of innovation to support those affected by dementia, or are at risk of developing the condition.

For this reason, the SDRC and DHI are organised the Technologies for Brain Health and Dementia Prevention workshop to bring together the communities involved in such innovation. The workshop allowed communication and ideas exchange among people from different disciplines, perspectives and career stages.

We discussed ideas of how supportive technologies can best meet the needs of people affected by dementia. We also encouraged discussions on theories and applications of emerging technologies with an emphasis on brain health.


Day 1 - 13 June, 1200-1800

Day 2 - 14 June, 0900-1700

Speakers and their talks

Meet our speakers and learn more about our what they'll be talking about

Professor Craig Ritchie

Professor Craig Ritchie is the Professor of Psychiatry of Ageing at the University of Edinburgh, Director of Edinburgh Centre for Dementia Prevention and Director of Brain Health Scotland.

His primary research interest is the maintenance of brain health in mid-life to mitigate the risks of initiation and progression of degenerative brain disease that may lead to dementia. He is Chief Investigator on the PREVENT Dementia and European Prevention of Alzheimer’s Dementia Research Programmes.


TouchPoints for Technology in the Brain Health Movement

The Brain Health Movement envisages a population focused on taking actions to achieve and maintain optimal brain health. As well as helping well being across the life course, this should function to reduce the risk of brain diseases including neurodegenerative diseases. Technology can be used to help achieve and maintain brain health and also be used to detect subtle early changes that may help guide people to interventions to mitigate risk of further decline secondary to disease. Potential non-traditional technological detection methods will be introduced.

Professor Roma Maguire

Professor Roma Maguire is a Professor of Digital Health and Care at the University of Strathclyde and Director of the Health and Care Futures initiative. She is also co-lead of the Health Technology Cluster.  Her research interests include Digital Health, Remote Patient Monitoring, Supportive Care, Predictive Modelling and Values-Based Medicine.  She has significant experience in the co-design, development, evaluation and implementation of person-centred remote patient monitoring systems using patient-reported outcome measures (PROMS) to optimise symptom management, promote adherence to medicines, support wellbeing and improve quality of life.  Her research spans several clinical specialities including cancer, dementia, cardiac and respiratory disease and palliative/end of life care.  She has led several multi-site supportive care and digital health studies in the UK and across Europe.


Health and Care at the University of Strathclyde

As a technology-focused university, the University of Strathclyde has a breadth of technical expertise that can accelerate healthcare innovations. I will provide an overview of the context we host at Strathclyde to support research on Health and Care.

Professor George Crooks OBE

Professor George Crooks is the Chief Executive of the Digital Health & Care Innovation Centre, Scotland’s national innovation centre for digital health and care. He leads an organisation that is tasked with delivering innovation in digital health and care that will help Scotland’s people to live longer, healthier lives and create new jobs for the economy.

He was previously the Medical Director for NHS 24 and Director of the Scottish Centre for Telehealth & Telecare. George was a General Medical Practitioner for 23 years in Aberdeen latterly combining that role as Director of Primary Care for Grampian. George is on the Board of the European Connected Health Alliance. He is currently a Board member and past president of the European Health Telematics Association. He is also an adjunct Professor of Telehealth at the University of Southern Denmark.

George was awarded an OBE in the Queen's New Year Honours List 2011 for services to healthcare.


Back to the Future

We will explore how learning from the past can secure a better future empowered by next generation digital tools and services.

Professor Lynne Baillie

Professor Lynne Baillie has a PhD and MSc in Computing. She has been successfully involved in the user centered design of home, mobile and rehabilitation technologies for over fifteen years. She has a strong track record in research management and leadership at a senior level in two countries (Austria and UK).

She has been awarded grants from research councils (UKRI, FFG), international companies (Orange, Telecom Austria, Alcatel-Lucent, Siemens, Microsoft and Vodafone), charities (Heritage Lottery Fund, CHSS), and Governments (local, national and EU). In last five years she has started working in the Human Robot Interaction (HRI) area, and is the lead for HRI and health for the new National Robotarium.


Exploring Socially Assistive Robots and Sensory Feedback for Cognitive Decline Prevention

Cognitive training has the potential to slow cognitive decline, which, with the growing population of older adults, would help alleviate the growing strain on the healthcare system. However, access and engagement barriers can limit the potential impact of this therapy. We undertook a Participatory Design workshop that included older adults and therapists as collaborators to assist in designing an engaging cognitive training system through integrating socially assistive robots and sensory feedback. Findings indicate the system should gear towards success and give the users autonomy over components of the interaction.

Dr Mario A Parra

Dr Mario A Parra graduated as a Medical Doctor in 1993 and as a Clinical Neurophysiologist in 1997. Worked at the Cuban Neuroscience Centre and at different University Hospitals in Cuba and in Colombia. Clinical work focused on neuropsychological and neurophysiological aspects of dementia syndromes and other neurological disorders.

PhD I Human Cognitive Neuroscience completed in 2005 at the University of Edinburgh. Three consecutive Postdoctoral Fellowships from 2010 until 2015 with Alzheimer’s Society. An Assistant Professor in Psychology at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh from 2015 until 2018.

Currently a Senior Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow. Co-direction of the Latin American and Caribbean Consortium on Dementia. Member of the Executive Committee of the Scottish Dementia Research Consortium where he co-leads of the Informatics and Technology Theme.

His research focuses on the mechanisms underlying normal and abnormal cognitive ageing and cognitive and behavioural changes in neurodegenerative diseases, with emphasis on Alzheimer’s disease. Leads projects investigating functional brain changes (fMRI, EEG, ERP, Brain Connectivity) in the course of dementing illnesses and other brain disorders. Actively involved in the development of cognitive tests and novel technologies for the early detection of dementia and to promote brain health.


Technologies for assessment of cognitive and functional abilities: from the lab to the real world

Technologies for in-person and remote assessments of cognition during real-life tasks are growing rapidly. Many barriers still preclude their wide use. Are these technologies equally reliable when used in the lab and at home? What are the views of those expected to benefit from such technologies? I present a series of studies carried out to explore these outstanding issues.

Professor Ruth Aylett

Professor Ruth Aylett leads research on Computer Science at Heriot-Watt University. She has worked in AI and robotics for more than 30 years, researching digital narrative, affective computing, intelligent graphical characters and human-robot interaction. One of of her recent projects examined whether robots could help with improving social skills for adults with high functioning autism and she has just started a project looking at digitl narrative as an aid to reminiscence therapy for adults with early-stage dementia. She is joint author of the popular science book ‘Living with Robots – what every anxious human needs to know’ published in 2021.


Therapy, diagnostic evaluation, modelling – AI and robot technologies in brain health.

I will briefly present three examples of applying advanced technologies: robots for stroke rehabilitation, virtual environments with embedded knowledge for diagnostic assessment in dementia, and neural nets for modelling Parkinson’s disease.

Dr Mauro Dragone

Dr Mauro Dragone is an Assistant Professor at the Research Institute of Sensors, Signals and Systems (ISSS). His research focuses on building smart environments combining Artificial Intelligence with Internet of Things and Robotics, especially for assisted living applications.

He initiated and led the EU project RUBICON (FP7-ICT-269914), a €2.5M project which investigated cognitive architectures for self-learning Ambient Assisted Living (AAL) systems.

At Heriot-Watt, Dr. Dragone set up the Robotic Assisted Living Testbed (RALT) – a `Living-Lab’, part of the UK National Robotariun, designed to facilitate data collection and user-driven design and testing of innovative and practical solutions for healthy ageing and independent living.

He is involved in EU projects developing new benchmarks for assistive robots, and he is one of the UK Co-investigators of the EPSRC Healthcare NetworkPlus EMERGENCE. The network is bringing together researchers, businesses, end-users, health and social care commissioners and practitioners, policy makers and regulatory bodies in order to build knowledge and capability needed to enable healthcare robots to support people living with frailty in the community.


IoT, Cloud and Robotics for Ambient Assisted Living

Ambient Assisted Living (AAL) is a term used to describe technology and processes designed to create a supporting environment for elderly people and sustain physical and mental health. In this talk I will discuss how Robotic, Autonomous and Interactive Systems (RAIS) are increasingly proposed as part of AAL design. In the first part of my talk I will provide an overview of ongoing initiatives involving the Cognitive Assistive Robotic Environment (CARE) group at the UK National Robotarium. For us, the term ‘Cognitive Assistive Robotic Environments’ embodies a vision: a future where humans are supported by smart environments that can not only sense and react to user behaviour, but can proactively engage and cooperate with them using autonomous, robotic and interactive systems (RAIS) technology. Relevant projects include: (i) non-intrusive home activity monitoring systems using Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology, (ii) autonomous agent and tele-presence robot interfaces, which are being used to develop cognitive assessment and cognitive assistance systems; and (iii) novel design methods for non-zoomorphic social robot companions exploiting 3D knitting material and soft robotics. In the second part of my talk, I will describe our efforts to create an open and remote access living lab for AAL, targeting the fast co-creation of socially acceptable, scalable and affordable solutions to support the care of vulnerable people. I will present the experience and the result of a pilot event (the Robotic + Care Mashup), which we run in May 2021, and discuss how the project has enriched our innovation but also our learning and teaching capacity, and how it has set an example for how innovators, academia and the care sector can be pulled together to co-produce AAL concepts.

Dr Sarah E MacPherson

Dr Sarah E MacPherson is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Psychology, University of Edinburgh, UK. She completed her PhD in cognitive neuropsychology at the Department of Psychology, University of Aberdeen, UK, and postdoctoral training at the Department of Psychology, University of Aberdeen and the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, University College London, UK. She is a past Board member and Treasurer of the British Neuropsychological Society and Board member of the International Neuropsychological Society (INS).

She is currently the Chair of the Education Committee of the INS. Her research focuses on the neuropsychological assessment of frontal lobe functions including executive functions, social cognition and memory and involves the study of patients with focal frontal lobe lesions or neurodegenerative conditions, as well as healthy older adults.

She has developed the updated Cognitive Estimation Test (CET, MacPherson et al., 2014), the Edinburgh Social Cognition Test (ESCoT, Baksh et al., 2018) and the Virtual Reality Everyday Assessment Lab (VR-EAL; Kourtesis et al., 2020). She has authored over 75 papers and book chapters well as co-authoring, “The Handbook of Frontal Lobe Assessment” (2015) and co-editing the book, “Cases of Amnesia:  Contributions to Understanding Memory and the Brain” (2019).


The Virtual Reality Everyday Assessment Lab (VR-EAL): Adopting immersive virtual reality in the neuropsychological assessment of cognitive functions

In clinical practice and research, patients are typically assessed using paper-and-pencil and computerized tests. However, these tests display several limitations and discrepancies between the observed performance in the clinic/laboratory and the actual performance of individuals in everyday life. Moreover, assessments that take place in real world settings have several limitations (e.g., they are time consuming to set up; they lack experimental control over the external situation). Immersive virtual reality (VR) technology has the potential to allow clinicians and researchers to gather behavioral data with a high degree of control within an ecologically valid environment; this is particularly important in the assessment of executive functioning, memory, and attention. In my talk, I will discuss some of the considerations when using VR in neuropsychological assessment before introducing the Virtual Reality Everyday Assessment Lab (VR-EAL), a neuropsychological test battery in immersive VR.

Dr Kieren Egan

Dr Kieren Egan is a Research Fellow at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, United Kingdom, and has a number of research interests spanning across: digital health, dementia, informal caregivers and healthy ageing. Kieren has previously worked at the World Health Organization in Geneva including working on the development of iSupport (a digital skills and training programme for carers of people with dementia). He has a long-term interest in improving the likelihood of candidate interventions reaching societal use including through the use of evidence synthesis techniques, innovative methodologies and participant co-design.


Brain Health Technologies- do we really need co-design?

Our global population continues to both grow and age where there is an ever-increasing need for citizens to take an active role in both understanding and managing their own health and wellness. Brain health is no exception to this, where there are a number of innovative spaces emerging including through: adaptive technologies, technologies to enhance brain health and assistive technologies. Co-design and coproduction has been around for decades as a way to actively involve all stakeholders in the design process. But is this approach really necessary for emerging technologies? This talk will discuss brain health technologies through the lens of co-design, and whether there is value in this approach for all stakeholders concerned.

Dr Aleksandra Vuckovic

Dr Aleksandra Vuckovic is a Reader in Rehabilitation Engineering at the University of Glasgow and a Co-director of the Scottish Centre for Innovation in Spinal Cord Injury. She holds MEng in Electrical Engineering from the University of Belgrade, Serbia and PhD in Healthcare Technologies from the University of Aalborg, Denmark.

She was also a Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of Aalborg and at the University of Essex, UK. Dr Vuckovic research interest is in neuromodulation and neurorehabilitation through Brain-Computer Interface.


Brain Computer Interfaces for neurorehabilitation of sensory and motor functions

Brain-Computer Interface (BCI), is a novel form of neurotechnology , designed to compensates a loss of sensory-motor functions or to provide strengthening or modulation of preserved neuro-muscular pathways in patients with impairments of the Central Nervous System. In recent years, advances in BCI technology facilitated its translation to community centres and to patients’ homes. In this talk I am going to present two case studies, (i) BCI neurofeedback for treatment of central neuropathic pain and (ii) neurorehabilitation of upper limbs through BCI with functional electrical stimulation. I’ll discuss issues of implementing technologies in clinical and community settings.

Prof Naeem Ramzan

Professor Naeem Ramzan is full Professor of Artificial Intelligence and the Director of the Affective and Human Computing for Smart Environment (AHCSE) Research Centre, University of the West of Scotland (UWS), U.K.

He received the M.Sc. degree in telecommunications from the University of Brest, France, in 2004, and the Ph.D. degree in electronics engineering from the Queen Mary University of London, London, U.K., in 2008.

He has authored or co-authored more than 200 research publications, including journals, book chapters, and standardisation contributions. He has authored a book and co-edited some books as well. His research interests are cross-disciplinary and industry focused and include AI/machine learning, affective computing and multimedia processing, analysis and communication, video quality evaluation, brain-inspired multi-modal cognitive technology, big data analytics, affective computing, the IoT/smart environments, natural multi-modal human–computer interaction, and eHealth/connected Health. Prof Ramzan’s article was awarded the Best Paper Award 2017 of the IEEE Transactions on Circuits and Systems for Video Technology and number of conference papers were selected for the Best Student Paper Award.

He has been a Lead Researcher in various nationally or EU sponsored multimillion funded international research projects (total funding as PI secured over £20m). He has been awarded the Scottish Knowledge Exchange Champion Award 2020 and numerous other awards, such as Staff Appreciation and Recognition Scheme (STARS) Award for Leadership in 2019 and awarded STARS award 2015 and 2017 for Outstanding Research and Knowledge Exchange (the University of the West of Scotland) and Awarded Contribution Reward Scheme 2011 and 2009 for outstanding research and teaching activities (the Queen Mary University of London). He is, a senior member of IEEE, a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (HEA), the Co-Chair of MPEG HEVC verification (AHG5) Group and a Voting Member of the British Standard Institution (BSI).

In addition, he holds key roles in the Video Quality Expert Group (VQEG), such as the Co-Chair of the Ultra High Definition (UltraHD) Group, the Co-Chair of the Visually Lossless Quality Analysis (VLQA) Group, and the Co-Chair of the Psycho-Physiological Quality Assessment (PsyPhyQA). He is also the Co-Editor-in-Chief of VQEG eLetter. He has served as a Guest Editor for a number of journals. He is also a Founding Associate Editor of Journal of Quality and User Experience (Springer) and an Associate Editor of number of Journals. He has chaired/co-chaired/organised more than 25 workshops, special sessions, and tracks in international conferences.


Physiological signal processing for human-centric applications

Iain Aitchison

Iain Aitchison is an internationally recognised leader in the fields of innovation and design management, working at the intersection of consulting, education and research. Over the last 15 years, he has consulted to clients including British Gas, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Institute of Directors, Lenovo, Mars Inc., NHS Highland, Samsung, Unilever, and Yamaha—leading design research and strategy projects in over 15 countries around the world. On a mission to help organisations realise their innovation potential, Iain has also helped build several long-term internal education programmes to enhance user-centred design capabilities of client teams. Through his experience in academia and the boards of public bodies Iain has extensive experience of working in the public sector in Scotland, including initiating comprehensive digital transformation programmes.

Day 2 - Workshop themes and questions

Theme 1: Adaptive technologies, precision medicine and interventions

This theme will encourage discussions around technologies that aim to adapt to the changing needs of those affected by neuro-progressive diseases. These hold potential for person-centred assessments and interventions. Such adaptive capabilities are envisaged to equip people are risk of dementia with more resilience to the course of this long disease processes. Are relevant theories from relevant fields thoroughly considered and incorporated?

Theme 2: Technologies to enhance brain health

The advent of VR/AR, Wearables/Sensors, Cognitive Prosthetics, Reminiscence Technologies, and other technologies is creating unprecedented opportunities to move assessments and interventions from the lab to the real world. Such technologies retain a great deal of control regarding how experiences can be directed and measured while achieving greater ecological validity. How well do they capture and incorporate relevant interdisciplinary knowledge.

Theme 3: Assistive technologies

There is a growing interest in technologies that can support people with disabilities to live safely and independently whether at home or in care facilities. We are witnessing a rapid growth of Ambient Assisted Living, Smart Environments, Living Labs, Tele-presence and Tele-care, Cognitive Robotics, just to mention some key examples. Are these meeting the ever-changing needs of those affected?

Theme 4: Co-design and co-production for brain health technologies

The Scottish Brain Health and Dementia Research Strategy aims to encourage a paradigm shift whereby researchers and members of the public come together to become co-designers, co-producers and co-beneficiaries of research. This paradigm shift is urgently needed in the field of healthcare technologies. Can limited PPIE account for limited adherence and compliance, increased biases, and poor attitudes towards healthcare technologies?

Key Points & Questions for Discussion

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