Centre for Elderly and Nursing Home Medicine (SEFAS)

Can artificial darkness alleviate agitation in people with dementia?

Artificial intelligence and artificial darkness to alleviate behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia. The DARK.DEM trial.

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New project at SEFAS

Line Iden Berge is a specialist in psychiatry, senior doctor at NKS Olaviken gerontopsychiatric hospital, and associate professor at SEFAS. In august 2022 she received 10.6 mill/Nok from the Research Council of Norway for the project “Virtual darkness and digital phenotyping in specialized and municipal dementia care: The DARK.DEM randomized controlled trial. This project will merge expertise in elderly medicine, psychiatry, psychology, chronotherapy, computer science and hermeneutics, to improve diagnostics and treatment of BPSD management in both specialized and municipal dementia care.

Neuropsychiatric symptoms of dementia

Behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD) describe changes in behavior and mental state which is caused by the dementia syndrome, and encompasses amongst others anxiety, depression, psychosis and agitation. These symptoms are prevalent in persons with dementia, often treatment resistant, resource demanding and contributes to worsening of cognition, independency, reduced quality of life and increased mortality.

 In the first part of the project, we will use artificial intelligence to examine if data from smart watches can provide accurate measures of agitation, depression and sleep disturbances in persons with dementia admitted to NKS Olaviken Gerontopsychiatric Hospital. In the second part of the project, we will conduct a randomized controlled trial to determine if treatment with virtual darkness, that is, light without blue wavelengths, can alleviate agitation and other BPSD among inpatients at the hospital. This treatment had very good effect in reducing manic symptoms in persons with bipolar disorders in a recent trial, in addition, it reduced the need for psychotropic drugs and length of hospital stay. In the final part of the project, we will conduct focus group interviews with leaders in nursing homes in Bergen to explore barriers and enablers for implementation of the new methods in municipal dementia care.


The DARK.DEM trial will start summer 2023, and be finalized in December 2027. We will hire two PhD candidates and one post-doc affiliated with the project. DARK.DEM is a collaboration between SEFAS, the Faculty of Psychology, UiB, with professor Elisabeth Flo-Groeneboom, Valen sjukehus, Helse Fonna with psychiatrist, senior doctor and PhD Tone Henriksen, ViD specialized university represented by associate professor Stein Erik Fæø, NKS Olaviken gerontopsychiatric hospital with senior psychologist and associate professor Minna Hynninen, and Bergen municipality. The steering group encompasses professor Geir Selbæk, head of Ageing and Health, Professor Claus Martiny University of Copenhagen and light architect Carlo Volf at the University Hospital of Copenhagen.