Study 3: University of Nottingham

The University of Nottingham (Dr. Wilson and Dr. Craven) will examine the immediate and prolonged impact of AD Detect & Prevent training, particularly for transfer effect to other real-world tasks. Nottingham will use a mixture of a) longitudinal user studies, collecting subjective ratings, task performance, and objective mental workload measurements (Wilson), and b) qualitative Public & Patient Involvement (PPI) Workshops to examine the user acceptance and clinical potential of the technology (Craven). This work will match two aims: 1) that there is scientifically validated evidence that the novel AD Detect & Prevent technology has a measurable impact on participants identified through detection (Wilson), and 2) that the technology has potential for a future NHS clinical studies and/or trials (Craven).

Nottingham’s expertise brings two novel resources to the evaluation of the AD Detect & Prevent technology: First, Dr. Wilson’s expertise is in using functional Near InfraRed Spectroscopy (fNIRS) to evaluate Mental Workload associated with using novel technologies in increasingly real-world contexts [1,2]. In comparison to other brain scanning techniques, fNIRS is highly suitable for evaluation in real world contexts, as it measures the BOLD response like MRI but without being restricted in environment, and is more tolerant of natural movement artefacts than EEG which is affected by immediate muscle activation. Using fNIRS, for example, Wilson’s team have evaluated the Mental Workload induced by poor user interface design [3]. This novel evaluation approach will be used to complement traditional longitudinal evaluation techniques of cognitive performance. Complementing Wilson’s in-the-wild objective methodology, Dr Craven’s team in MindTech is funded by the NHS research funding body (NIHR) to evaluate potential digital interventions for Mental Health conditions [4,5], including Brain Training applications [6]. MindTech has access to public / patient groups (including its own Involvement Team) that co-evaluate potential digital interventions, and have an established expertise in identifying recommendations for developing good candidates for future clinical studies or trials.

Research Questions

•   Can we measure cognitive improvement longitudinally with fNIRS as a result of AD Detect & Prevent?

•   Can we observe real-world transfer by capturing fNIRS data in real-world contexts?

•   Is there sufficient evidence for AD Detect & Prevent to run further NHS clinical studies and/or trials in the future?

Public and Patient Involvement Workshops

Craven will oversee a series of PPI Workshops with participants and other stakeholders across the 12-month evaluation period, using a well-established methodology to co-develop engagements with PPI groups. Other stakeholders will include clinical members of MindTech itself and the Centre for Dementia, and directly involves eliciting the opinion of persons with lived experience of dementia and carers. This approach has been used repeatedly by researchers at MindTech in the evaluation of potential mental health technology-based interventions to assess their development needs including suitability for NHS studies or clinical trials. The workshops will be overlaid over the 12-month data collection, designed to a) help interpret the findings of the results, and b) discuss initial user acceptance of the technology. The result of this overlaid investigation is 1) the consolidation of evidence gathered from the data collection, into meaningful recommendations for potential clinical studies and/or trials, and 2) recommended refinements of the product being developed by Brain+ Apps.