Dr Madeleine Radnan

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Understanding how technology can help older adults to remember.

Dr Madeleine Jessica Radnan is a cognitive psychologist whose research aims to understand how we retrieve memory and how technology can be used to prompt recall.

Her work is looking at how technology can be best designed for people living with dementia to support them in maintaining wellbeing, quality of life and independence at home.

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Dr Radnan researches autobiographical memory recall and how technology may be used to help older adults to remember, with the ultimate aim of improving wellbeing and quality of life.

She studies memory retrieval in controlled experiments as well as in the field, such as in older adults in the community and aged care residents.

I imagine a future where technology can help people living with dementia maintain independence and a quality of life, at home and in residential care.

While most autobiographical memory research is conducted by showing participants cue words and asking them to recall an event from their life, Dr Radnan is researching how imagery-based cues, such as locations shown on a television or through virtual reality, affect autobiographical memory recall.

The aim is to discover what sounds, images, pictures or text are best for instructing someone with dementia to successfully complete a task of daily living.

As a first step, she is investigating how technology-based cues, such as Google Earth on a television, or the Wander app experience through virtual reality, affect memory retrieval in younger adults. Future research will develop the findings to look at how technological cues may affect autobiographical memory recall of older adults living with and without dementia.

She is also working towards developing an assistive technology that may help people living with dementia to maintain independence to do their daily activities.

Existing  assistive technologies are often difficult to use, expensive or are not appropriately designed for people with dementia. My research aims to understand the fundamental interface and hardware design features of an assistive technology device that is appropriate for their needs.


We currently do not know enough about the learning ability of people living with dementia and what technological designs give them the best chance of successful interaction.

Dr Radnan’s research will answer fundamental questions around what helps older people to remember, and how technology can assist in that process. By understanding how technology may promote autobiographical memory, it will be possible to create a device for people living with dementia that will help them to accomplish daily living tasks, engage socially, and maintain their independence for longer.

Dr Radnan successfully delivered a 12-week  technology-based reminiscence program at a day-respite facility based in Sydney. The program allowed nine clients of the facility to explore places of their past, and places they had always wanted to visit in small group sessions using Google Street View on a large 75-inch screen. This program allowed for clients and their families to draw on their past experiences, connect with each other and have a meaningful experience. The next stage is to see how the technology may impact  autobiographical memory recall and determine if a similar program may be effective in aged care.

In future, Dr Radnan’s research will assist industry by providing evidence-based design principles for technology for people living with dementia, and evidence on the benefits of using technology in psychosocial interventions and to support memory in older adults.

The ultimate impact of this work will be to improve quality of life for older people and provide the best chance of maintaining independence at home for longer. This will have a flow-on effect of reducing the demand on residential care as well as reducing the demand on informal caregivers.


Dr Radnan completed her Bachelor of Advanced Science (Hons) at UNSW. After completing a double major in psychology and neuroscience, she proceeded to complete her honours in neuroscience.

During this period, her research involved neurophysiological techniques to understand the cellular mechanisms of long-term depression in the lateral septum.

In 2018, she commenced her PhD at the MARCS Institute, where she combined her interests of technology and wellbeing. The research focused on characterising older adult engagement, and she delivered a technology-driven psychosocial intervention to older adults in residential care.

She has continued at the MARCS Institute, where she is currently a Postdoctoral Research Fellow and Research Assistant working across projects involved in autobiographical memory processes across the lifespan, memory tools, older adult music education to support wellbeing, and communication between older adults in residential care.

Her research interests involve designing technology aimed at improving wellbeing and quality of life. She takes a multidisciplinary approach to methodology drawing upon the fields of cognitive science, UX and UI experience, sociolinguistics and neuroscience.

Radnan, M. J., Li, W., Stevens, C. J., Hill, C., & Jones, C.  (Under review). Measuring engagement among older adults using a multidimensional analysis of communication. Psychogeriatrics.

Dean, R. T., Chmiel, A., Radnan, M., Taylor, J., MacRitchie, J. (Under review). A computational assessment tool for music novices' replication and improvisation tasks. Journal of New Music Research.

MacRitchie, J., Chmiel, A., Radnan, M., Taylor, J., & Dean, R. T. (2022). Going online: Successes and challenges in delivering group music instrument and aural learning for older adult musical novices during the COVID-19 pandemic. Musicae Scientiae. http://doi.org/10.1177/10298649221097953

Chaichim, C., Radnan, M. J., Dumlao, G., & Power, J. M. (2021). Long-term depression of excitatory transmission in the lateral septum. Journal of Neurophysiology. https://doi.org/10.1152/jn.00657.2019

Radnan, M.J., Stevens, C.J., Jones, C., Leahy, A. and Parker, D. (2020). Evaluating technology_based reminiscence for engagement and socialization in aged care: Time travelling with technology. Alzheimer's Dement., 16: e041668. https://doi.org/10.1002/alz.041668


Collaboration is important in Dr Radnan’s work as the questions she seeks to answer involve a very multidisciplinary approach.

Her work draws on expertise in cognitive science, aged care and health care, linguistics, computing and engineering, and policy and practice. Each of these disciplinary expertise provides an important understanding of what the problems are, how the problems should be address, how the problems can be address, insight into the outcomes and experience of how to implement the solutions.

She is collaborating with Deakin University and NTT, a Japanese telecommunication company, to develop technology to assist older adults maintain independence and quality of life at home.

Future collaborations may involve aged care facilities and industry partners.


Phone+61 2 9772 6107
Location Western Sydney University Westmead campus