An Artificial Intelligence model, developed by IBM Research and pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, can predict Alzheimer’s seven years earlier than doctors with 70% accuracy. The model uses samples of people describing a line drawing.
The cookie theft drawing has been used for many years to diagnose Dementia and other illnesses. The drawing has two children stealing cookies behind a lady who is washing dishes. The AI system collects voice samples of people describing the drawing, and predicts if they are vulnerable to the disease.
It uses natural language processing to analyse short excerpts from the samples. The study has been a longitudinal one. Over time, the AI spotted subtle changes like grammatical errors and different sentence structures, showing cognitive decline.
This study, published in Lancet eClinicalMedicine Journal, was aimed at using classification methods to predict future onset of Alzheimer’s in cognitively normal subjects through automated linguistic analysis.
“The results suggest that language performance in naturalistic probes expose subtle early sings of progression to Alzheimer’s disease in advance of clinical diagnosis of impairment,” read the study.
The samples in this study have been collected from The Framingham Heart Study, an ongoing study since 1948. Due to the longevity of the study, the AI could spot the decline of cognitively healthy people.
“The key finding is that seven years in advance of clinical diagnosis, we can say with 70% accuracy that people will go on to develop Alzheimer’s,” Ajay Royyuru, IBM’s vice-president of Healthcare Research told BBC. UK’s Alzheimer Society also found the research encouraging and emphasising on the importance of getting an earlier insight into getting dementia and Alzheimer’s, according to the news article.
Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease that causes the damage and eventual degeneration of brain cells. This results in a continuous decline in memory, thinking, and other cognitive abilities. Usually the disease takes away the independent functioning life of the patient. Currently, there is no cure of Alzheimer’s, only preventive measures like early identification and multiple treatments can help the patients.