The Use of Acoustic Stimulation to Increase Slow-Wave Activity in Alzheimer’s Disease Patients / The Struggle for Simpler Interfaces for Users with Cognitive Disabilities

Author: ORCID icon
Yi, Julia, School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia
Allen, Timothy, EN-Biomed Engr Dept, University of Virginia
Barker, Shannon, University of Virginia
Norton, Peter, EN-Engineering and Society, University of Virginia

Cognitive impairment (CI) is defined as a mental impediment in independent function due to issues with memory recollection, behavior, emotional feelings and learning. Numerous forms of CI exist in varying severity from mild cognitive impairment (MCI) to Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and dementia. The complexity of these neurodevelopmental diseases and unknown causation has led to limitations in treatment options and consequent lack of a cure. To slow cognitive decline in patients with AD, sleep cognitive therapeutic devices are a developing field of treatment. Acoustic stimulation has been used in sleep studies to find improvements in cognitive function. The project team contributed to the development of a sleepwear device for patients with MCI, a potential precursor to AD. The ultimate product monitors polysomnographic activity, amplifying slow-waves for memory consolidation via live auditory stimulation. Product form factor ideation, designing, mock prototypes and material assembly were accomplished within the capstone term. CI can impose access barriers between CI users and digital devices. Impaired users typically require special features or frequent technical support. Advocates of persons with CI press for interface design changes or help users adjust. Above all, advocates seek to influence hardware and software companies early in the development process to bridge this gap in the digital divide.

BS (Bachelor of Science)
Slow-wave Activity, Cognitive Impairment, Alzheimer's Disease, Mild Cognitive Impairment, Acoustic Stimulation, Biomedical Engineering

School of Engineering and Applied Science
Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering
Technical Advisor: Shannon Barker
STS Advisor: Peter Norton
Technical Team Members: Felix Donis Barrera, Patrick Lee, Laura Livingston, Saoirse Teevan-Kamhawi, Julia Yi

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