ABLE Project Awarded Grant from Centre for Aging + Brain Health Innovation (CABHI)

The Pulse Lab team, Caitlin McArthur, Stephen Surlin, Adekunle Akinyemi, Rong Zheng, Paula Gardner and Alexandra Papaioannou, have been selected for the Spark Program to develop our project, ABLE-Music: Movement-Music Interactions to Engage Older Adults with Cognitive Impairments. The project will be hosted by Hamilton Health Sciences – GERAS centre.

About the ABLE Project

ABLE is a Co-design project:

  • ABLE platform is co-created with older adults with dementia
  • transforms movement into an art experience (digital painting and musical creation) to enhance wellness (physical, mood, cognitive)

Recent research shows that light intensity exercise is associated with healthy brain aging, ABLE integrates these findings:

  • 10 minutes/short bursts of mild exercise: is associated with enhanced memory (Stubbs et al 2017), enhanced brain volume, improved physical and cognitive health in older adults (Tse et al, 2015)
  • Higher amounts of activity: is linked to reduced rates of cognitive decline (Suwabe et al 2019), increased brain volume (Spartano et al 2018; Suwabe et al 2019)
  • Reducing depression may make us less susceptible to cognitive & memory impairment: Depression ages the brain more quickly (Esetlis 2019; Gaysina 2018; Al Hazzouri et al 2018)
  • Art combined with movement has a synergistic effect: it has the power to enhance mood, physical fitness and cognition (Schiphorst 2007)

The ABLE Project’s design principles involve digital music and painting interactions that will be co-designed with participants, to reflect the memories and preferences of older adults.


Schiphorst, T. (2007a). Really, really small: the palpability of the invisible. In Proceedings of the 6th ACM SIGCHI conference on Creativity & Cognition (pp. 7-16). ACM.

June 05, 2018; 90 (23) Greater depressive symptoms, cognition, and markers of brain aging. Northern Manhattan Study. Neurology. Adina Zeki Al Hazzouri, Michelle R. Caunca, Juan Carlos Nobrega, Tali Elfassy, Ying Kuen Cheung, Noam Alperin, Chuanhui Dong, Mitchell S.V. Elkind, Ralph L. Sacco, Charles DeCarli, Clinton B. Wright

Dr Darya Gaysina and Amber John. (EDGE Lab (Environment, Development, Genetics and Epigenetics in Psychology and Psychiatry) the University of Sussex) ‘Affective problems and decline in cognitive state in older adults’. 24 May 2018. Psychological Medicine.  https:// from Thursday 24 May 2018.

Dr. Irina Esetlis, Yale School of Medicine. (Research linking depression to brain aging). [Paper] presented Feb. 15, meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

“Rapid stimulation of human dentate gyrus function with acute mild exercise” by Kazuya Suwabe, Kyeongho Byun, Kazuki Hyodo, Zachariah M. Reagh, Jared M. Roberts, Akira Matsushita, Kousaku Saotome, Genta Ochi, Takemune Fukuie, Kenji Suzuki, Yoshiyuki Sankai, Michael A. Yassa, and Hideaki Soya in PNAS. Published September 24 2018.

Association of Accelerometer-Measured Light-Intensity Physical Activity With Brain Volume; The Framingham Heart Study. Nicole L. Spartano, PhD1,2; Kendra L. Davis-Plourde, MA2,3; Jayandra J. Himali, PhD2,4; et al Charlotte Andersson, MD, PhD2,5; Matthew P. Pase, PhD2,6,7,8; Pauline Maillard, PhD9; Charles DeCarli, MD9; Joanne M. Murabito, MD, ScM2,10; Alexa S. Beiser, PhD2,4; Ramachandran S. Vasan, MD2,10,11; Sudha Seshadri, MD2,4,12

The American Journal of Psychiatry, Physical Activity and Incident Depression: A Meta-Analysis of Prospective Cohort Studies , Felipe B. Schuch, Ph.D., Davy Vancampfort, Ph.D., Joseph Firth, Ph.D., Simon Rosenbaum, Ph.D., Phillip B. Ward, Ph.D., Edson S. Silva, B.Sc., Mats Hallgren, Ph.D., Antonio Ponce De Leon, Ph.D., Andrea L. Dunn, Ph.D., Andrea C. Deslandes, Ph.D.,Marcelo P. Fleck, Ph.D., Andre F. Carvalho, Ph.D., Brendon Stubbs, Ph.D.

Sports Med Open. 2015 Dec; 1: 37.Published online 2015 Oct 20. Effect of Low-intensity Exercise on Physical and Cognitive Health in Older Adults: a Systematic Review Andy C. Y. Tse, 1 Thomson W. L. Wong,2 and Paul H. Lee3