The Hippocamera: An App to Boost Memory Ability

Award Date: 2017

Project Lead(s): Morgan Barense, Professor and Canada Research Chair

Project Title: The Hippocamera: A Situationally Aware Memory Prosthetic

What is the issue?

Memory loss reduces confidence, autonomy, and self-identity and requires people to rely more on caregivers. Improving memory function has the potential to increase the quality of life of older adults with Alzheimer’s disease and their caregivers.

What did we do?

We created the first mobile app to boost memory ability, called the Hippocamera. It allows people with memory loss to record short video clips of daily activities and replay them. Participants used the app daily for two weeks. We tested whether it helped improve their memory using behavioural tests and brain imaging studies.

What did we find?

All participants said that the app improved their ability to remember daily events. They recalled more details for events replayed in the app compared with an activity that was not recorded. Knowing they could record things gave participants more confidence to engage in meaningful activities. Reviewing the recordings before going to sleep doubled the number of details recalled compared to reviewing at other times.