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Talks & Seminars
Cognitive Assistive Technology: An Emerging Discipline
Prof. Michael Lightner, ECE University of Colorado Boulder, Colorado
Date & Time: April 27, 2006 14:30
Venue: KReSIT Conf. room, 'C' Block, 1st floor
Abstract:

Human cognitive functioning can be diminished for many reasons and in many ways. Congenital and early childhood issues such as Downs syndrome, Williams syndrome, Fragile X syndrome, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, environmental poisoning from lead and mercury and malnutrition can all lead to significant cognitive deficits. Traumatic brain injury is another major cause of reduced cognitive functioning. The aging population is subject to various reduced functioning, dementias and Alzheimers disease. As a whole these conditions directly impact between 20 and 60 million people worldwide. If we consider extended families, workplace and social interactions, the issue of cognitive disabilities impacts up to 600 million people worldwide.

Individuals with cognitive disabilities face challenges in short and long term memory, sequencing of tasks, abstract thinking, enumeration, language, reasoning and more. The goal of cognitive assistive technology is to provide tools and techniques to improve the ability of individual with cognitive disabilities to accomplish many of the activities of daily living and thus to be more independent and more integrated into society at large.

Cognitive assistive technology brings many areas of technology together to create the needed tools and techniques. In this talk we will review some basic statistics on cognitive disabilities, identify a variety of needs and present examples of tools and techniques utilizing computer science, electrical engineering and telecommunications. We will illustrate the challenges of this new field and end with outstanding challenges.

Speaker Profile:

Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Computer Science (courtesy appointment), College of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Colorado Boulder, Colorado

Joint appointment with Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, College of Medicine, Health Sciences Center, University of Colorado, Denver, Colorado

Fellow, Univ. of Colorado Center for the Integrative Study of Work

Fellow, IEEE

Michael Lightner received the B.S. (with high honors) and M.S. from the University of Florida and the Ph.D. from Carnegie Mellon University, all in Electrical Engineering. At Colorado he has held positions as Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Associate Dean for Special Projects, Interim Associate Dean for Research, Director of Graduate Studies in Electrical and Computer Engineering among others. He will be the next chair of the Electrical and Computer Engineering department.

He has received several College of Engineering teaching and service awards and was key in developing the concepts and plan for the new Discovery Learning Center (a $16M facility for integrating undergraduates and industry into the college research activities).

Professor Lightner was instrumental in obtaining a gift of $250M for the University of Colorado to establish the Coleman Institute for Cognitive Disabilities ^ a funding organization devoted to developing and funding research partnerships focused on the use of advanced computing and communication technology to improve the quality of life of people with cognitive disabilities.

He has received numerous research grants from both industry and government agencies including the National Science Foundation, U.S. Department of Education, TRW, Office of Naval Research, NASA, IBM, Fujitsu, Kodak, SRC, Storage Technology, Omnicom, and the National Institute for Disability and Rehabilitation Research among others.

Professor Lightner has served as consultant to a number of companies and organizations including Rockwell, Fujitsu, Epic Technologies, the World Bank and the State of Georgia. He has had appointments at Bell Laboratories (North Andover, MA and Murray Hill, NJ), IBM Watson Research Center, the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC and the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

His technical interests have been in CAD for VLSI with work in optimization, statistical design, simulation, logic synthesis and formal verification. He also works in digital filter design. His current interests are focused on developing and applying technologies to enhance learning. Specifically, through work with the Coleman Institute for Cognitive Disabilities, he has developed a program to explore the intersection of cognitive science, cognitive neuroscience, learning science and learning technology.

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