Conversational Engagement Study: Detecting changes in the levels of social engagement

Full Project Title: Detecting changes in the levels of social engagement: Conversational Pilot Study
Investigator: Hiroko Dodge, Ph.D.
Funding Period: 2011 to 2015
Funding Source: National Institute on Aging

We examined whether frequent conversations using webcam and internet could improve thinking abilities among the elderly. First, we examined who are likely to participate in our trial by distributing surveys to local seniors. Over 2000 surveys were distributed. The results were used to estimate the potential sample selection bias in our trial (the publication #1 below). Our randomized controlled trial showed high adherence (over 89%) and improved language-based executive functions among the experimental group in comparison with the control group (publication #2 below). By using the recorded conversations, we also found interaction patterns differ by participants' cognitive status (publication #3 below). We plan to extend the study to a larger population in the near future.


1. Dodge HH, Katsumata Y, Zhu J, Mattek N, Bowman M, Gregor M, et al. Characteristics associated with willingness to participate in a randomized controlled behavioral clinical trial using home-based personal computers and a webcam. Trials 2014;15:508.

2. Dodge HH, Zhu J, Mattek N, Bowman M, Ybarra O, Wild K, et al. Web-enabled Conversational Interactions as a Means to Improve Cognitive Functions: Results of a 6-Week Randomized Controlled Trial. Alzheimer's & dementia : translational research & clinical interventions 2015;1:1-12.  

3. Dodge HH, Mattek N, Gregor M, Bowman M, Seelye A, Ybarra O, et al. Social Markers of Mild Cognitive Impairment: Proportion of Word Counts in Free Conversational Speech. Current Alzheimer Research 2015;12:513-519.