It takes a lot of time – and money – to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease. After running a lengthy in-person neuropsychological examination, clinicians must transcribe, review and analyze each response in detail.
now, US National Science Foundation-supported researchers in University of Boston has developed a new tool that can automate the process and eventually allow it to move online. Their machine learning-powered computational model can detect cognitive impairment from audio recordings of neuropsychological tests – no in-person appointment required. The findings are published in Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association.
“This approach brings us one step closer to early intervention,” said Ioannis Paschalidis, a co-author of the paper. He says faster and earlier detection of Alzheimer’s could drive larger clinical trials targeting individuals in the early stages of the disease and potentially enable clinical interventions that slow the decline. thinking. “This could be the basis of an online tool that would reach everyone and increase the number of people who get screened early.”
“It surprised us that the flow of speech or other parts of the audio are not that critical; you can automatically transcribe interviews reasonably well and rely on text analysis through AI to check the deterioration of mindset,” said Paschalidis. Although the team still needs to validate its results against other data sources, the findings suggest that their tool could support clinicians in diagnosing cognitive impairment using audio recordings, including from virtual or telehealth appointments.
Early diagnosis of dementia is not only important for patients and their caregivers to develop an effective plan for treatment and support, but it is also important for researchers working on therapies to slow and prevent the development of Alzheimer’s disease. “Our models help clinicians evaluate patients in terms of their chances of cognitive decline,” says Paschalidis, “and then best match resources to them through to do more testing in those with a higher likelihood of dementia.”
Adds Wendy Nilsen, deputy director of NSF’s Division of Information and Intelligent Systems, “Efficient early detection of cognitive decline not only helps people get help before their symptoms become debilitating, but finding a change earlier will also help medical research in understanding the causes of Alzheimer’s Disease.”