New iPad test recognizes dementia many years before the first symptoms

New iPad test recognizes dementia many years before the first symptoms

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New test could revolutionize the diagnosis of dementia

The British National Health Service is currently testing a five-minute iPad test to quickly and effectively identify the first signs of dementia. Such a test could offer tremendous benefits to patients and their families, and detect the condition years before symptoms appear.

A study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that a test on a so-called iPad may help to identify dementia much earlier, which leads to better treatment and better management of the disease. The results of the current investigation were published in the scientific reports.

There is no cure for dementia

An earlier diagnosis could lead to effective therapies. Dementia cannot currently be cured. Such a novel test could also reduce the number of concerned people who are screened for signs of dementia, which saves the health service a lot of time and money, the researchers say. The test, which does not require medical monitoring, uses artificial intelligence to assess brain function.

Participants had to identify animals in photos

The participants will be shown around 100 photos. Then you are asked whether the pictures contain an animal. Some clearly show an animal, other pictures show animals less clearly, still others contain no animals at all. The photos only appear on the iPad for a fraction of a second. Possible abnormalities, which are indicated by differences in reaction speed and accuracy, can indicate dementia long before the occurrence of memory loss. This test could be a more effective tool for detecting early signs of dementia than previous assessments, the study authors suggest. The new way of diagnosing dementia with the help of an iPad is already in a test phase, if everything goes well, the test could already be used nationwide in the UK next year.

Existing tests can be influenced by several factors

There is currently no single test for dementia. So far, patients have been diagnosed based on skills such as memory, concentration, attention span and language skills. It is conceded that existing tests can be influenced by the level of education of a person, and it also has an influence that should not be underestimated whether patients have already carried out the test.

Patients may need to take the test twice

The iPad test is based on studies that identified problems with visual processing that could give early clues to the development of dementia. Each picture differs in complexity and degree of surprise from the other pictures. Many mathematical features of the image play a role, so that each image acts as a stimulus, the authors of the study explain. If the iPad test indicates early signs of mild cognitive impairment or dementia, patients may be asked to repeat the test if they were unusually tired, had drunk alcohol the night before the assessment, or were distracted during the test.

Test enables new drugs to be manufactured

By determining which parts of the brain are affected first, the iPad test could then help scientists develop a cure. The researchers report that billions of pounds in research funds will be put into the testing of drugs for the later stages of dementia. By identifying people with early signs of the disease, experts can gain new insights. The test is quick and easy to perform and is designed to examine areas of the brain affected in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease.

Interestingly, this test, which is at an early stage of development, can help to identify diseases even before memory and thinking problems have affected people's lives.

More research is needed

“It is encouraging that this technology is being included in studies that evaluate its potential,” the researchers explain. Sensitive AI techniques offer a tremendous opportunity to improve the detection of diseases that cause dementia and ensure an accurate diagnosis at the right time. Strict tests on a large number of people are only required before it can be determined whether the iPad test is more accurate and sensitive than other ways of diagnosing dementia. (as)

Author and source information

Video: Keith Black, MD u0026 The First Eye Test for Alzheimers. Cedars-Sinai (June 2022).


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