Digital markers can predict dementia almost perfectly

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Researchers at Columbia University have developed a new algorithm that can predict mild cognitive impairment and dementia in older drivers with high accuracy.

The algorithm uses ensemble learning techniques and longitudinal data from a naturalistic driving study.

Digital markers, which are variables generated from data captured through recording devices in the real-world setting, were used to measure driving behavior, performance, and tempo-spatial pattern in exceptional detail.

The researchers used an interaction-based classification method to select predictive variables in the dataset.

The study achieved an accuracy of 96% in predicting mild cognitive impairment and dementia, outperforming traditional machine-learning models such as logistic regression and random forests.

The researchers constructed 200 variable modules using naturalistic driving data on the driver, the vehicle, and the environment captured by in-vehicle recording devices for 2977 drivers participating in the Longitudinal Research on Aging Drivers (LongROAD) project.

The participants were active drivers aged 65-79 years who were cognitively intact at the time of enrollment.

The data used in the study came from the first three years of follow-up, spanning from August 2015 through March 2019.

During the follow-up, 36 participants were diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment, 8 with Alzheimer’s disease, and 17 with other or unspecified dementia.

The researchers found that the new ensemble learning model is 6-10% more accurate than random forests and logistic regression models in predicting mild cognitive impairment and dementia.

The two most influential driving variables are the right-to-left turn ratio and the number of hard braking events.

“With advancing age, drivers make relatively fewer left turns and more right turns because left turns are riskier,” noted the lead author of the study, Sharon Di.

The researchers believe that digital markers embedded in routinely collected driving data can be used through innovative machine-learning techniques as valid and reliable artificial intelligence for predicting mild cognitive impairment and dementia.

“Early detection of mild cognitive impairment and dementia could lead to timely evaluation, diagnosis, and interventions, which are especially salient in the absence of effective therapeutics,” said the senior author of the study, Guohua Li.

This study has big implications for the safety of older drivers and highlights the potential of using machine learning techniques to predict cognitive impairment and dementia.

By detecting these conditions early, healthcare professionals can intervene and provide appropriate care, which can ultimately improve the quality of life for those affected.

How to spot dementia early

Dementia is a condition that affects cognitive functions such as memory, thinking, and reasoning. It is a progressive disease, meaning that it gets worse over time.

However, early detection and diagnosis can help individuals receive the appropriate care and support they need to manage the condition. Here are some early signs of dementia to look out for:

Memory loss: One of the most common early signs of dementia is memory loss. This can include forgetting recent events, struggling to remember names, and repeating questions or stories.

Difficulty with everyday tasks: Individuals with early-stage dementia may struggle with tasks that were once routine, such as cooking, cleaning, or managing finances.

Difficulty communicating: Dementia can affect a person’s ability to communicate effectively. This can include difficulty finding the right words or understanding others.

Confusion: Individuals with dementia may become easily confused or disorientated, especially in unfamiliar environments.

Changes in mood or personality: Dementia can cause changes in mood or personality, such as becoming withdrawn, anxious, or agitated.

It is important to note that these symptoms can also be caused by other conditions, so it is important to consult a healthcare professional for a proper diagnosis.

If you or someone you know is experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important to seek medical advice as soon as possible.

Early diagnosis can help individuals and their families to plan for the future and receive appropriate care and support.

If you care about dementia, please read studies about new drugs for incurable vascular dementia and high blood pressure that may lower dementia risk for some old adults.

For more information about dementia, please see recent studies that cataract removal may reduce the dementia risk by 30%, and results showing these antioxidants could help reduce the risk of dementia.

The study was conducted by Xuan Di et al and published in Artificial Intelligence in Medicine.

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