Professor Catherine Loveday | University of Westminster
Competition Sponsor: UK Research & Innovation
Awardee Year: 2022
We grow up in a world where forgetfulness is seen as an inevitable consequence of ageing. Research shows that although this needn’t be a foregone conclusion, it is something that is experienced by many older people. Memory loss is widely feared, which is hardly surprising given that our memories make us who we are. Being able to recall conversations or shared experiences is what cements our friendships. Remembering what has happened in the past guides us to make decisions about the future.
There are numerous reminiscence activities, apps and interventions available to support older people in recollecting the distant past, but memory for recent events (“short-term memory”) has largely been neglected. When people struggle to recall recent events it can severely disrupt social connections even with close family, and may discourage people from having conversations or meeting up, as well as impacting on important decisions.
My research has shown that active consolidation (for example diary-writing, photo-logging) can significantly improve memory for recent past, and that this in turn significantly impacts on quality of life. However, this is time consuming and impractical for many people, especially older people who typically have less technical know-how.
This project proposes the development of a user-friendly system that supports active consolidation of recent memories. My vision is that this will become like a pair of spectacles – something that people use as a matter of course, without fear, embarrassment or extensive effort, and because it significantly improves their day-to-day life.
To learn more about this proposal email firstname.lastname@example.org.