Abstract Title

Artificial Companionship: Looking for Social Connections in Technology.

Presentation Type

Poster

Abstract

Long-term or chronic loneliness is a significant problem among older adults affecting over 4 million people in the US alone. Loneliness, when controlled for depression, is implicated in up to 25% sooner progression of dementias (Donovan et al., 2015), development of personality disorders (DeNiro, 1995), decreased executive control (Cacioppo and Hawkley, 2009), and decrease in IQ (Gow et al., 2007). Although deep and engaging person to person social interaction reduces feelings of loneliness, elderly adults are not always able to form these relationships. Intelligent Personal Assistants (IPA) and consumer level robotics offer an opportunity for the development of technological devices to serve as companions for this population. The present studies explore potential ways in which an IPA could help lonely older adults in reducing adverse emotions. Functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) will be used to assess if robots are engaging both emotionally and intellectually. As part of this analysis, we are interested in investigating the neural networks that are activated during interaction with a stand-alone IPA voice operated device, as well as social robots. The study aims to explore the features necessary in a socially interacted device in order to form engaging, social connections with a user. A socially engaging device can potentially reduce loneliness in older adults, reducing related adverse health effects, improving quality of life, and reducing health care costs.

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Artificial Companionship: Looking for Social Connections in Technology.

Long-term or chronic loneliness is a significant problem among older adults affecting over 4 million people in the US alone. Loneliness, when controlled for depression, is implicated in up to 25% sooner progression of dementias (Donovan et al., 2015), development of personality disorders (DeNiro, 1995), decreased executive control (Cacioppo and Hawkley, 2009), and decrease in IQ (Gow et al., 2007). Although deep and engaging person to person social interaction reduces feelings of loneliness, elderly adults are not always able to form these relationships. Intelligent Personal Assistants (IPA) and consumer level robotics offer an opportunity for the development of technological devices to serve as companions for this population. The present studies explore potential ways in which an IPA could help lonely older adults in reducing adverse emotions. Functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) will be used to assess if robots are engaging both emotionally and intellectually. As part of this analysis, we are interested in investigating the neural networks that are activated during interaction with a stand-alone IPA voice operated device, as well as social robots. The study aims to explore the features necessary in a socially interacted device in order to form engaging, social connections with a user. A socially engaging device can potentially reduce loneliness in older adults, reducing related adverse health effects, improving quality of life, and reducing health care costs.