July 6


01:00 pm - 05:00 pm




Loughborough University and remotely on Zoom (register below for details)

Brockington Building

Loughborough, Leicestershire, United Kingdom, LE11 3TU

ACTInG Research Networking day: 6th July 2021

On the 6 July from 13:00-17:00 we hosted a free hybrid online/in-person dementia research sharing event on Zoom and at the Loughborough campus, (Room B114, Brockington building). The event launched our new research network: ACTInG (Applied Cognition, Technology and Interaction research Group) which focuses on mental health and dementia, how technology and design adaptations can help improve quality of life and independence, and how to assess this when working with people with dementia and other people with possible communication needs.

On the day, we had two keynote speakers, Dr Mike Craven, an expert on technology to improve mental health from Mindtech and Prof Liz Peel who specialises in communication and interaction with people with dementia. Other speakers include Prof Sue Hignett and Bill Halsall, both healthcare and dementia design experts, along with lightning presentations from staff and PhD researcher members of ACTInG.

As part of the event, chair Prof Eef Hogervorst presented a Design Brief for the new Specialist Dementia Facility for Leicestershire County Council for feedback and discussion.


NB: Since (at the moment) the event is planned to be both live and online, we will arrange a buddy scheme so that remote participants can be ‘hosted’ by those who can make it in person.

  • 13:00-13:30: Welcome from Eef Hogervorst
    • A welcome from Eef, professor of biological psychology, ACTInG chair and Director for Dementia Research at Loughborough University.
  • 13:30-14:00: Opening Keynote  – Mike Craven
    • ‘Two MindTech projects’ – This talk will discuss two MindTech projects: MinD – Designing with and for people living with dementia, and Brain+ Project Alzheimer’s disease Detect-Prevent. The talk will also cover different assistive technologies that can support people living with dementia.
  • 14:00-15:45: Presentations from ACTInG members – These will be short 5-10 minute presentations followed by questions. At 14:40-15:00 we will have a coffee break. Please see details for the presentations below:
    • Eef Hogervorst: ‘Dementia friendly design’ – In this talk the themes from the task force to design a dementia friendly specialist facility are presented. Input from the public is welcome.
    • Lauren Hall: ‘The interactional management of agency in homecare work with virtual assistants’ – With an increase in preference for homecare, there is a corresponding increase in the marketing of technologies that aim to improve accessibility, agency, and personal independence for elderly and disabled people (Amazon, 2019; Domingo, 2012). This MSc project uses discursive psychology and thematic discourse analysis to study how service users and care assistants work with the assistance of ’smart home’ technologies in homecare settings. We firstly examine video recordings of a care assistant working with an elderly service user in their home, where a smart speaker is already well-integrated. To complement this method, we secondly conduct semi-structured interviews with all participants to analyse how their internal understandings of the phenomena are constructed through discourse. This study aims to improve quality of life by identifying specific interactional practices and methods of technology use that support the independence and agency of service users and will form basis of my PhD programme and further research.
    • Saul Albert: ‘Alexa who?’ – When we forget someone’s name in everyday life we have a variety of ways of dealing with the potentially problematic social implications. At a conference we can desperately try to read their name badge as they approach, or we can try to avoid dealing with the issue and hope we aren’t discovered when we have to introduce the person to someone else. If all else fails, we can always just apologise and ask – but even this type cringeworthy event doesn’t usually cause the conversation to break down entirely. Virtual assistants like Alexa, Siri or Google home, however, are less forgiving. If we forget their names or how to make requests from them in very specific ways – they simply do not cooperate. In this brief talk, I will show short video clips of a disabled man encountering these kinds of problems, and will describe some of the early-stage findings of our research into how disabled people engage with virtual assistants in a homecare setting.
    • Ahmet Begde: ‘Physical exercise for independent living in people with dementia: an overview of systematic reviews and meta-analyses’Objective: To summarise existing systematic reviews that assess the effects of physical exercise on ADL, walking, balance and visual processing in persons with dementia or mild cognitive impairment. Design: An overview of systematic reviews and meta-analyses. Methods: A literature search was performed in EMBASE, MEDLINE, CINAHL, AMED PsycINFO and Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews databases to identified eligible reviews published between January 2015 and April 2021. Results: A total of 29 systematic reviews were included in the overview. The most frequent type of physical activity for the intervention group was the multimodal exercises (15). Mind-body exercises (7), exergames (3), dance intervention (2) and aerobic exercise (2) were other exercise types. Conclusion: There is evidence that exercise (especially multi-component exercises) with sufficient intensity improves activities of daily living skills. Exercise also improves walking, balance and visual processing, which are among the most leading determinants of independent living in individuals with dementia. People with dementia should be encouraged to exercise regularly to be more independent.
    • Manisha Jain: ‘Dual-task exercise and the role of technology for dementia’ – With no cure for dementia, investigations into preventing or delaying cognitive decline are paramount and one strategy is dual-task exercise, combining exercise with cognitive activities. Systematic reviews have indicated that dual-task exercise which was delivered simultaneously significantly improved cognition compared to exercise alone, for those with and without mild cognitive impairment (MCI) (Gavelin et al., 2021; Gheysen et al., 2018). Technology can also assist with exercise and an interactive dual-task intervention, which used a portable exergame and an under-table pedaller, demonstrated significant effects on executive function and delayed verbal memory in those with MCI (Anderson-Hanley et al., 2018). However, while it has been shown that exercise can improve cognition, the heterogeneity in design and methodology across interventions impedes definite conclusions regarding its efficacy (Du et al., 2018). This project aims to review and develop dual-task exercise guidelines to improve cognition and investigate various supplemental hardware and software technologies.
    • David Maidment: ‘Improving physical activity in older adults with hearing loss: why does it matter?’ – Recent research has shown that older adults with hearing loss take part in 40% less physical activity than age-matched controls. As a result, older adults with hearing loss become more frail at an earlier age and are more likely to develop more life-threatening health conditions (or noncommunicable diseases), including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and dementia. This presentation will outline the work that we are undertaking at Loughborough University to assess the associations between hearing loss, noncommunicable disease risk, and physical activity. This research will inform the development of a digital home fitness platform that aims to improve physical activity in older adults with hearing loss so they can live longer, healthier lives.
    • Felicity Slocombe:Managing identity in dementia interactionally’ – Overview of one part of my PhD project in which an interaction data set will be used to analyse how identity is managed and supported in interactions from various settings (memory clinic, dementia specialist care home and in people’s own homes) using the approach of conversation analysis (CA). An example from my data set will be discussed to illustrate how identity can be studied using CA. The goal of the project is to contribute to research which brings the views and experiences of people living with dementia into the research findings and to improve communication.
    • Thom Wilcockson: Abnormalities of saccadic eye movements in dementia due to Alzheimer’s disease and mild cognitive impairment’ Background: There is increasing evidence that people in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) have subtle impairments in cognitive inhibition that can be detected by using relatively simple eye-tracking paradigms, but these subtle impairments are often missed by traditional cognitive assessments. People with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) are at an increased likelihood of dementia due to AD. No previous study had investigated and contrasted the MCI subtypes in relation to eye movement performance. Methods: In this work we explored whether eye-tracking impairments could distinguish between patients with the amnesic and the non-amnesic variants of MCI. Participants were 68 people with dementia due to AD, 42 had a diagnosis of aMCI, and 47 had a diagnosis of naMCI, and 92 age-matched cognitively healthy controls. Results: The findings revealed that eye-tracking can distinguish between the two forms of MCI. Conclusions: The work provides further support for eye-tracking as a useful diagnostic biomarker in the assessment of dementia.
    • 15:45-16:30: Design feedback & discussion chaired by Eef Hogervorst – also incorporating a presentation of Dementia Care Facility from Sue Hignett and Bill Halsall
    • 16:30-17:00: Closing Keynote – Elizabeth Peel
      • ‘Discoursing dementia: Responsibility and relationality’ – In this talk I emphasise the centrality of discourse in (re)producing understandings of dementia that include some and exclude others. Drawing on the ‘Duties to Care’ and ‘Dementia Talking’ projects I suggest that in examining text and talk we can see how lines of responsibility for dementia causation and care are (re)drawn. Responsibilities are produced and negotiated through discourse, as are different forms of family and relationships. The person with dementia exists within a network of relations, and how these are legitimatised or marginalised influences outcomes proximally and distally.
    • 17:00-18:00: Reception drinks & nibbles