Cognitive Empowerment Program

Cognitive Empowerment Program Seed Grants

2022 Grant Recipients  

Identifying the Impact of Building Systems on the Sleep Quality of People with MCI in Underprivileged Communities 

Principal Investigators: 
Ece Erdogomus, Georgia Tech 
Felicia C. Goldstein, Emory University 
Eunhwa Yang, Georgia Tech 
Julie Boron, University of Nebraska at Omaha  
Andrea M. Green, Georgia Tech 

The objective is to define the relationships between building systems/system controls and sleep quality of individuals with MCI residing in socioeconomically disadvantage communities. Identifying the impact of environmental factors (e.g., lighting levels and quality; indoor/outdoor temperature and humidity; noise sources and levels; crowding) in existing homes will provide understanding regarding barriers and facilitators of sleep-in persons with MCI residing in socioeconomically disadvantaged communities. In the long term, this research will be a significant step towards eliminating lifestyle barriers and will ultimately allow for the development of realistic and low-cost solutions for socioeconomically disadvantaged MCI communities.  

Moving Yourself in Space and Time: Identifying spatial and temporal Components of rhythmic movement training for people with mild Cognitive Impairment: The MYSTIC STUDY 

Principal Investigators: 
Madeleine E. Hackney, Emory University 
Laura Emmery, Emory University 
Kevin C. Karnes, Emory University 
Jonathan Lucas McKay, Emory University and Georgia Tech 
Trisha Kesar, Emory University 

We want to use music and movement as therapy to strengthen mobility, perception, thinking, and mental health in people with memory problems. We have studied how people communicate rhythms through touch, and now want to understand how people with memory problems experience, learn, and benefit from moving to musical rhythms. Auditory musical cues have not been evaluated for motor training in this way in older individuals with memory problems. We are seeking support from the CEP for a preliminary study evaluating the feasibility and effects of complex rhythmic movement training on motor-cognitive outcomes in people with memory issues. We believe this important study will involve CEP members throughout will lead to enhanced long-term impacts on rehabilitation and quality of life. We are especially excited to work in partnership with CEP members to create a fun and engaging and effective therapy. 

2021 Grant Recipients

The Right Steps II Project
Principal Investigators:
Anthony Y. Stringer, Emory University
Rosa Arriaga, Georgia Institute of Technology

Margo Adams Larsen, Virtually Better

The Right Steps II Project will develop a user-friendly, iPad application (app) for people with MCI to aid their memory for things they often forget such as numbers, appointments, the location of belongings, grocery lists, conversations, routes, and names and facts about new people. The app will aid users in organizing this information and will provide strategies and practice to help people learn the information if they wish. The app will put the user in control of what they learn vs. what they just store for later retrieval.

Impact of design on speech perception in Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI): Learning from the sound environment in the Cognitive Empowerment Center
Principal Investigators:
Selen Okcu, Kennesaw State University
Gabrielle Campiglia, Georgia Institute of Technology
Clayton Feustel, Georgia Institute of Technology
Amy Rodriguez, Department of Veterans Affairs

Craig Zimring, Georgia Institute of Technology

Speech is not only the interaction between the speaker and the listener. The physical environment plays a significant role in making it easier or harder to understand speech. This project aims understand how the sound environment impacts speech perception for people with mild cognitive impairment.

Music for Memory, Mood, Togetherness
Principal Investigators:
Grace Leslie, Georgia Institute of Technology
Maureen Burke, Emory University
Carson Myers, Georgia Institute of Technology

This project seeks to empower participants with MCI and their caretakers to create their own therapeutic music listening sessions through an interactive iPad app that asks the music listener and their caretaker to identify positive moments from their past and music they may associate with these powerful memories. The app will capture musical memories when they are at their most vivid and play back the music when it can still provide solace and calm. This iPad application will be released in the Apple Store for use by the wider MCI community.

Daily Memory, Sleep, Stress and Individual Factors Among DYADs
Principal Investigators:
Emily Lustig, Georgia Institute of Technology
Christopher Hertzog, Georgia Institute of Technology
Ann Pearman, Department of Veterans Affairs

Amy Rodriguez, Department of Veterans Affairs

This study will investigate everyday memory, sleep, and stress by collecting daily reports from members and their care partners along with objective measures of heart rate, sleep, movement, and activity. The goal of this study is to be able to (1) better understand how dyads’ lived experiences affect each other in terms of cognition, sleep, and affect; (2) to provide feedback on sleep quality to members and their partners; and (3) generate knowledge regarding everyday memory techniques, sleep adjustments, and/or technology that can lead to general recommendations on how to empower people diagnosed with MCI as well as their care partners.

2020 Grant Recipients

Everyday Memory Intervention for Caring Dyads
Principal Investigators:
Ann Pearman, Georgia Institute of Technology
Chris Hertzog, Georgia Institute of Technology

Ken Hepburn, Emory University

This intervention is designed to help both CEP members and their care partners (caring dyads) learn new techniques to help improve their everyday memory and functioning. Investigators will teach both people strategies to manage their everyday functioning with a focus on self-regulation and dyadic interaction.

Identifying Barriers and Technological Interventions to Support Adherence Behaviors in Mild Cognitive Impairment 
Kayci L. Vickers, Emory University School of Medicine (PI)
Dr. Felicia C. Goldstein, Emory University School of Medicine (Co-I)
Maribeth Gandy Coleman, Georgia Institute of Technology (Co-I)
Laura Levy, Georgia Institute of Technology (Co-I)

Past research has shown that up to 40% of older adults do not adhere properly to prescribed medications and that these rates are higher among individuals with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI). Although it has been less well-studied, there is growing evidence that behavioral recommendations such as changing one’s diet, exercising more, becoming more cognitively active, and engaging in regular social activities are more difficult to carry out and therefore are likely to result in even higher rates of non-adherence. The proposed study aims to understand the major barriers to adherence to these types of regimens in individuals with MCI and their care partners, and to co-design technological solutions for overcoming these barriers. 

Development and Testing of a Social Game with the Therapeutic Potential for Individuals with MCI and their Families
Chantal Kerssens, Georgia Institute of Technology (PI)
Maribeth Gandy Coleman, Georgia Institute of Technology (Co-I)
Laura Levy, Georgia Institute of Technology (Co-I)

Subject Matter Experts:
Cecile Janssens, Emory University
Tracy Mitzner, Georgia Institute of Technology
Dr. Molly Perkins, Emory University School of Medicine
Suzette Binford, Emory University

The proposed project aims to create, implement and test an adapted version of a well-known game, such as Scrabble, for people with MCI and their family members. Many couples and families seek opportunities to stay active, physically and mentally, to support their brain health. 

Feasibility of Using Tele-Technology for Mind-Body Interventions for People with Mild Cognitive Impairment
Tracy L. Mitzner, Georgia Institute of Technology
Dr. Patricia C. Griffiths, Emory University

Group mind-body classes, such as tai chi and mindfulness, have the potential to provide both physical and social health benefits. Unfortunately, there are substantial logistical, cultural, and structural barriers for adults aging with cognitive disabilities, such as Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI), to engage in group exercise classes. Barriers include lack of transportation to classes, fear of negative stereotypes, and a dearth of instructors with appropriate training. Teletechnology, such as videoconferencing with audio and video exchange, provides the opportunity for people to deliver and attend group exercise classes remotely, with great potential to support people with MCI.

Feasibility of Measuring Natural Gait Speed In-Home to Quantify Falls Risk in Individuals with MCI
Jon Sanford, Georgia Institute of Technology
Joe Nocera, Emory School of Medicine
Dawn Fletcher, Brain Health Center (Co-I)

The purpose of the proposed pilot project is to demonstrate the feasibility of using continuous measures of naturalistic gait speed during an individual’s normal, everyday activity in the home environment and if the captured measures can provide a more reliable assessment of mobility and fall risk in individuals with MCI.