Your Health: A new way to detect dementia early

Over 10 million people are diagnosed with dementia each year, worldwide.
Over 10 million people are diagnosed with dementia each year, worldwide.
Published: Nov. 11, 2022 at 11:15 AM EST
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - According to the world health organization, over 10 million people are diagnosed with dementia each year, worldwide.

New research using a simple recording of your voice and a special computer algorithm could help early detection of dementia.

Neurological tests to determine a person’s cognitive ability can take a lot of time because clinicians must transcribe, review, and analyze every response in vivid detail.

Now, researchers at Boston University have developed a new tool that could automate the process. The machine-learning computer model can detect cognitive impairment from audio recordings of neuropsychological tests without you even having to go to the doctor.

“Why have dementia if we can reduce those things, we know are modifiable that are strongly associated with the risk of dementia?” questions Dr. James E. Galvin, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine

By using automated online speech recognition tools like, “Hey Google,” and a machine-learning technique called “natural language processing,” it helps computers understand your recorded text allowing the model to access the likelihood and severity of a person’s cognitive impairment.

Faster and earlier detection of Alzheimer’s could drive larger clinical trials that focus on people in the early stages of the disease and potentially enable clinical interventions that slow cognitive decline.

“The idea is that instead of waiting for the disease to happen, we try to prevent it from happening first.”

The model was not only able to accurately distinguish between healthy people and those with dementia, but it also detected differences between those with mild cognitive impairment and dementia.

As it turns out, the quality of the recordings and how people spoke were less important than the content of what they were actually saying.

The research team that trained their model using audio recordings from more than one thousand neuropsychological interviews still needs to validate its results against other sources of data.

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