The Coimagination Method and its Evaluation via the Conversation Interactivity Measuring Method

The Coimagination Method and its Evaluation via the Conversation Interactivity Measuring Method

Mihoko Otake (Research into Artifacts, Center for Engineering, The University of Tokyo, Japan), Motoichiro Kato (Research into Artifacts, Center for Engineering, The University of Tokyo, Japan), Toshihisa Takagi (Database Center for Life Science, Research Organization of Information and Systems, Japan) and Hajime Asama (Department of Precision Engineering, Graduate School of Engineering, The University of Tokyo, Japan)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-559-9.ch043

Abstract

The causes of dementia are divided into genetic factors and cognitive factors. To prevent dementia by reducing the cognitive factors, the authors of this chapter have developed the coimagination method to activate three cognitive functions that decline at an early stage of mild cognitive impairment (MCI): episodic memory, division of attention, and planning function. The coimagination method supports interactive conversation through expressing feelings about images according to a theme. Allocated time periods and turns for each participant are predetermined so that all participants play the roles of both speaker and listener. Measuring the interactivity of conversation qualitatively and quantitatively has been quite difficult, but conversation interactivity may indicate the intensity of cognitive activities. This paper proposes the conversation interactivity measuring method (CIMM) to measure the intensity of cognitive activities employed during conversation using the coimagination method.
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Coimagination Method

The aim of the coimagination method is to support interactive conversation and to activate episodic memory, division of attention, and planning functions, which decline in the early stage of mild cognitive impairment. Figure 1 describes the protocol of the coimagination program, intuitively, for first-time participants. The description of the coimagination method and the cognitive functions that are expected to be activated for each step is given below.

Figure 1.

Intuitive instruction of the coimagination method for first-time participants

Planning Functions

It is difficult to estimate the internal views or feelings of other people from external observation, but these internal views and feelings are the keys for understanding one another (Figure 1 - 1). To lower such barriers, the coimagination method asks participants to bring three images according to the themes of the session to share internal views or feelings and to communicate using the images. To prepare the image topics, participants may ask themselves what they would like to talk about according to the theme and to explore their internal worlds to determine their own topics. Then, participants search images that represent the topics and explore the external world by taking new pictures. Another preparation method is to observe the participants' personal belongings, such as albums and books, and look for familiar things in the external world. Participants recall what they are or where they were located so that they can take note of their original viewpoints, i.e., their internal worlds. In both ways, participants can plan their conversation by moving back and forth between their internal worlds and the external world. The planning functions of the participants are expected to be activated during this process. The themes are arbitrary, but the preferable ones encourage participants to pay attention to the external world, e.g., favorite foods. For instance, one of the participants brought images of pickled plums, fermented soy beans, and vegetable juice for the theme (Figure 1 - 2). All images brought by the participants are registered on the computer by the organizers before the session starts.

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