Saturday, June 07, 2008

 

Multimedia Biographies as externalized memory prosthetic

My colleague Don Presant from Winnipeg, Manitoba, sent me a link to a podcast from the CBC: multimedia biographies for the memory challenged or ePortfolio as "externalized memory" prosthetic, a research project being undertaken at the University of Toronto. (http://www.cbc.ca/spark/blog/2008/06/episode_40_june_4_7_2008_1.html -- starting at 19 minutes into the podcast)

By coincidence at the same time, Serge Ravet, my colleague with Eifel, was attending a conference in Aix-en-Provence in France on the theme "plus longue la vie" (longer the life) which is about linking innovative technologies with a longer (and possibly, better) life.

http://fing.org/jsp/fiche_actualite.jsp?STNAV=&RUBNAV=&CODE=1209995525933&LANGUE=0&RH=PRESENTATIONFING

Don also provided me with further information: it's part of a wide series of research initiatives that go beyond prosthesis to "rehabilitative or restorative devices to enhance cognition, and even as preventative or treatment devices able to slow the rate at which cognitive impairments develop."
"A second research project, in collaboration with Dr. Elsa Marziali, Schippers Chair of Social Work at Baycrest, is producing multimedia biographies for pilot cohorts of persons with early-stage or mid-stage Alzheimer’s disease. We collaborate with the AD individual, the caregiver, and other family members in collecting a life history through media such as music, photos, interviews, and narrated videos (Cohene et al. 2004, 2006). Early findings suggest that the biographies serve to reinforce a positive self-identity and bring joy and some calming to the AD individual. The biographies also provide benefits to family members such as better remembering how their loved one once was and being better able to accept the disease. A grant from the U.S. Alzheimer’s Association (2004-7) is funding the development and evaluation of 10-12 multimedia biographies. We are including several individuals with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) as part of this study."
As I begin to explore the lifelong and life-wide applications of this technology, these two research projects provide very interesting examples of how digital stories, produced with families for the benefit of their elderly relatives, has the potential for making these last years of life more bearable, especially for the surviving family members. You might call it the digital equivalent of the movie, "The Notebook"!

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