Data Structuring in Alzheimer's Research

Student Classification


Faculty Mentor

Dr. Hilda Goins


Industrial and Systems Engineering

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2019


Cognitive function is defined as a person's performance in objective tasks that require conscious mental effort. Cognitive impairment occurs when a person has trouble performing objective tasks such as remembering, learning, or concentrating. Research has shown that environmental factors such as heat, glare, and noise are known to be stressors of people with cognitive impairment. Behavioral and Environmental Sensing and Intervention (BESI) for caregiver empowerment is a team of researchers from the engineering and medical fields tasked with understanding the environmental factors that influence agitated behaviors in People with Dementia(PWD). BESI is a cyber-human system comprised of a tablet for inputs by the caregivers, sensors placed in different locations in the home, a wrist-worn wearable device for the PWD, and a base station in the home. The BESI system collects large amounts of environmental data using dispersed relay stations that extract data from the home of the PWD. This data describes audio, light, and other ambient stimuli inside the home. However, in order to understand how environmental factors impact agitation states, it must be understood what combination of factors cause agitation in PWD. BESI then uses this data combined with caregiver inputs to understand how to minimize or prevent agitation in the PWD, which is a major source of stress for caregivers. To analyze this data, it must be structured in a manner that is easier to work with. To structure the data, I prep large amounts of raw data, organize the data and reduce the data in an attempt to understand how environmental factors cause stress. The data structuring process is a key input to model the data using statistical models and machine learning to understand what environmental factors cause agitation in PWD. These methods can be utilized in medical research and other research studies, and will advance our ability to design and develop effective cyber-human interventions for caregivers of PWD.

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