Catalyst Awardee

Project Description

The Human Element: A Gesture-Powered Software Platform of Neurologic Music Therapy-Based Games and Puzzles: To Stimulate Neuroplasticity And Prolong Functional Independence in Individuals with Alzheimer's Disease

John Cowart Jr., PhD; Peter Gray, PhD; Will Pro, PhD; Ted Moore, PhD | Outlier Technology, LLC; Tina Tallon, PhD |  University of Florida
Competition Sponsor: US National Academy of Medicine
Awardee Year: 2023

Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) is a neurodegenerative disease that compromises neural connectivity and the body’s ability to repair brain tissue, ultimately leading to a dehumanizing, fatal brain atrophy that robs its victims of their memories, independence, and identity. Recent insights into the pathogenesis of AD however, suggest therapies which stimulate neuroplasticity will be central to future treatments which slow and/or reverse its progression. Notably, the emerging field of Neurologic Music Therapy (NMT), which uses the neuroscience of music to design tailored therapeutic interventions that stimulate neuroplasticity and improve cognition, has shown promise of revolutionizing the treatment of AD. For AD patients, nostalgic music from their childhood, or reverential period of their life, may be leveraged with NMT as a vehicle to access portions of their memory and/or identity that are being lost to the disease. The brain’s complex use of disparate, cross-hemispheral neural networks to process music is believed to be key in unlocking access to this information via alternative neural routes, if/when typical neural pathways have been impaired.

Given these considerations, Outlier Technology is developing an augmented reality NMT software platform of interactive, therapeutic games/puzzles designed to stimulate neuroplasticity and prolong functional independence in AD patients. Our technology is based on a proprietary motion-powered “smart instrument” that uses computer vision to map body-motion into an immersive, musical experience, which can be customized to the user’s sensitive medical needs and musical tastes, allowing them to instantly harness the neurological benefits of creating music, as they play their way to better health.

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