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Manchester Institute for Collaborative Research on Ageing

Developing a mobile phone app to better understand the causes of Dementia

25 January 2018

Growing evidence suggests that inflammation in the brain could play an important role in memory loss and dementia. Animal research also suggests that pre-existing drugs developed to reduce inflammation could improve brain function.

UoM researchers want to transform this research into better patient care but first they need a reliable way of studying how inflammation alters brain function over time.

As a first step they want to develop a way of collecting information on changes in memory capacity over time – taking measurements on a frequent basis, beyond the scope of regular clinic visits. To do this they intend to develop a high quality, robust smart phone app to monitor brain function changes over time using a range of medically approved cognitive tests.

This is where we’re asking for your help. Researchers from The University of Manchester want to make sure that this app is simple and engaging enough for people with mild memory impairments to use on a regular basis, allowing researchers to monitor subtle changes in memory which would otherwise be missed in routine appointments. We want to recruit a team of 6 public advisors with either experience caring for someone with Alzheimer’s, or who are currently living with mild cognitive impairment to advise us on developing this app. Your role will be to help us ensure that our final output is relevant, simple and engaging enough to be used by a whole range of people – including early stage Dementia patients and those with mild memory impairment.

If you choose to take part in this study we will ask you to join us for three workshops, all to be held at The University of Manchester, between February 2018 and July 2018.

The first two hour workshop will consist of an introduction to the project, an opportunity to test an early prototype of the app and a chance to use paper prototyping tools to feedback your views on what you think the app should look like and how it should function.

Once our developers have had time to create a second prototype app, based on your suggestions, we will invite you back for two further workshops. During the first hour-long workshop you can familiarise yourself with the updated app before taking it home on a pre-loaded mobile phone to test out for yourself. Then, a week later, you will be invited back for our last hour-long workshop where we will ask you to tell us what you thought. You will be paid £20 per hour for workshop attendance and we will provide up to £15 to cover travel expenses for attending each workshop.

If you have any further questions please e-mail Dr Sarah Fox ( or call on 07920414289.

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