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Early recognition of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and subtle changes to cognitive abilities that precede an MCI diagnosis has the potential to improve the efficacy of therapeutic treatment programs. The work addresses mobile games’ potential as empirical assessment tools for cognitive processes within the domains of attention, recognition, recall, and memory applied to game strategy. Two games have been developed with this objective. WarCAT is based on a familiar card game, War, and “Lock Picking” is a search for an optimal score, akin to finding the combination that opens a lock. Both games provide players with immediate feedback but engage different algorithms and heuristics to solve the respective problems at hand. By collecting player data on large scales to allow for baseline establishment of cognitive abilities across demographic (age) profiles, longitudinal performance of individuals and of groups can be established, and from there, the potential exists to employ machine learning methods to detect subtle changes in an individual’s cognitive processes over time.
Marcia Friesen is an associate professor in the Faculty of Engineering, University of Manitoba and also wears the hat of Director of the Centre for Engineering Professional Practice & Engineering Education and Associate Dean for Design Education in the Faculty of Engineering. Her research program is quite varied and includes issues related to the integration of internationally-educated engineers into the Canadian engineering profession, teaching & learning in engineering education, and engineering culture and identity. She has developed a research portfolio in computer engineering topics of agent-based modeling of infection spread and mobile health (mHealth) apps, including two mobile apps to better manage chronic wounds. Marcia is active in the professional community and sits on committees for the Association of Consulting Engineering Companies - Manitoba, Engineers Geoscientists Manitoba, and the board of the Canadian Engineering Memorial Foundation.
Bob McLeod’s background has been solely in teaching and research as a professor at the University of Manitoba in Computer Engineering. His main contributions have been in supervising over 60 M.Sc. students and 14 Ph.D. students through to completion of their respective degrees. Highly Qualified Personnel (HQP) training has been one of the main tenets of his research efforts. There are now unprecedented opportunities for HQP to generate real data through developing serious games and integrating data analysis through machine learning and other statistical techniques within mobile Smartphone health apps. His research is currently focused on designing and developing serious mobile games for mental health assessment (specifically mild cognitive impairment MCI), with the most important aspects of HQP training remaining a priority. It is these HQP who will continue the development in this important area. He has co-authored many journal and conference publications, and says that some are even worth reading. He hold five patents in areas ranging from cellular automata for testing integrated circuits to steel screw pile foundation systems, with the most recent being golf putter grip (pending). He’s pleased to have 18,000+ views on YouTube for research and education videos, and one that he is particularly proud of is the emergent behavior of a dancing snake. You can find his channel at bobmcleod247. He enjoys hockey, curling and golf with no discernible abilities or apparent aptitude.
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