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On Tuesday 11 February 2020, the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee will continue its inquiry into Ageing: Science, Technology, and Healthy Living by exploring what can be done to protect cognitive ability in old age, and the role of technology in addressing isolation, loneliness and mental health issues.

The inquiry has heard about biomedical processes such as inflammation that contribute to the ageing process.  In the first session, the Committee will ask researchers how these processes affect cognitive ability and mental health in old age and will also explore the links with stress and sleeping issues.
The evidence session will begin at 10.20am in Committee Room 1 of the House of Lords. The witnesses will include:

  • Professor Russell Foster, Professor of Circadian Neuroscience, University of Oxford
  • Professor Barbara Sahakian, Professor of Clinical Neuropsychology, University of Cambridge
  • Dr Sana Suri, Alzheimer's Society Research Fellow, University of Oxford
  • Professor Jane Raymond, Professor of Visual Cognition, University of Birmingham

In the second session, the Committee will consider the linkages between isolation, loneliness and mental health issues in old age, asking academics and product developers how technology can help to address these issues.
The evidence session will begin at 11.20am in Committee Room 1 of the House of Lords. The witnesses will include:

  • Catherine McClen, Founder and CEO, BuddyHub
  • Sinead Mac Manus, Senior Programme Manager, Digital Health, Nesta

In both sessions, the Committee will be asking about what is available to help older people now, and what might become available for future generations of older people.
Questions likely to be asked include:

  • What do we know about the impact of factors such as stress, sleep and inflammation on cognitive function and mental health?
  • What is the concept of “cognitive reserve”, and is there enough causative evidence to suggest that interventions throughout the life course could help people to maintain cognitive function with age?
  • Is healthspan affected by loneliness and social isolation over the life course and in older age?
  • Do we have evidence to show that technological interventions can reduce loneliness and improve social connectedness for older people?

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