Professor Arlene J. Astell [PhD, BSc, CClin Psychol]


Professor of Assistive Technology and Connected Healthcare

University of Sheffield
Regent Court
Regent Street
Sheffield S1 4DA

Tel: +44 (0) 114 222 0867
email :


I joined the University of Sheffield in February 2013 as Professor of Health Services Research in the Centre for Assistive Technology and Connected Healthcare (CATCH) after 12 years at the University of St. Andrews. I am a psychologist by training, gaining my PhD on the impact of dementia on communication from the University of Warwick in 1996.

Research Interests

My research focuses on developing creative interventions to support people with dementia and other conditions of ageing to live and age as well as possible. These include CIRCA (insert hyperlink) and Living in the Moment (insert hyperlink), using touch screen technology to support communication and provide stimulating and engaging activities for people with dementia.
I am also Principal Investigator of NANA (Novel Assessment of Nutrition and Ageing), a multidisciplinary project developing a touch screen toolkit to improve assessment and detection of early signs of malnutrition, frailty and cognitive decline in older adults. I also lead COBALT (Challenging Obstacles and Barriers to Assistive Living Technologies) working with older adults and health and social care staff to engage with and educate the Assisted Living Technology industry to develop products people want to use. I am UK lead for AAL-WELL, an international research programme investigating novel technologies to support people with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) to live well at home. I am also Co-Investigator on In-Touch a collaborative project with researchers and dementia care providers in Rotterdam to explore the potential of i-Pads for providing engaging and meaningful activities for people with moderate to severe dementia.

Professional Activities

Since 2001 I have sat on the executive committee of the Technology Professional Interest Area of the US Alzheimer’s Association, where I am currently program chair.
I am a member of the British Psychological Society, the British Neuropsychological Society and Experimental Psychology Society.
Between 2007-9 I was Editor of the PSIGE Newsletter, the professional publication of the Faculty of Psychology of Older People and a member of the National Executive committee.
I was a founder member of the East of Scotland Alzheimer’s Disease Research Centre (1997-2013)

Key Publications

Maclean, L., Brown, L. J. & Astell, A. J. (2013). The effect of rhythmic musical training on healthy older adults’ gait and cognitive function. The Gerontologist. doi: 10.1093/geront/gnt050
Brown, L. J. & Astell, A. J. (2012). Assessing mood in older adults: A conceptual review of methods and approaches. International Psychogeriatrics. 24 (8), 1197 – 1206. doi:10.1017/S1041610212000075
Fels, D. I., & Astell, A. J. (2011). Storytelling as a model of conversation for people with dementia and caregivers. American Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Dementias, 26: 535-541 doi:10.1177/1533317511429324.
Astell, A.J., Purves, B., & Phinney, A. (2011). ‘Story of my life?’ The contents and functions of reminiscing. ACM 978-1-4503-0268-5/11/05.
Astell, A. J., Ellis, M.P., Alm, N., Dye, R., & Gowans, G. (2010). Stimulating people with dementia to reminisce using personal and generic photographs. International Journal of Computers in Health, 1 (2), 177-198. DOI:10.1504/IJCIH.2010.037461.
Astell, A. J., Ellis, M. P., Bernardi, L., Alm, N., Dye, R., Gowans, G., & Campbell, J. (2010). Using a touch screen computer to support relationships between people with dementia and caregivers. Interacting with Computers, 22, 267-275.
Astell, A. J., Alm, N., Gowans, G., Ellis, M., Dye, R., & Vaughan, P. (2009). Involving older people with dementia and their carers in designing computer-based support systems: Some methodological considerations. Universal Access in the Information Society, 8(1), 49-59.
Astell, A. J. (2006). Personhood and technology in dementia. Quality in Ageing, 7(1),15- 25.