MSU Researchers will create an app to spot early signs of Alzheimer’s

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EAST LANSING, Mich. (WLNS)—The National Institute of Health pledged close to $4 million in grant money for Michigan State Researchers to develop technology that scans speech and vocabulary to catch early signs of Alzheimer’s and dementia. The grant money will help researchers develop computer algorithms to help with their research.

Jiayu Zhou, an associate professor at Michigan State University’s College of Engineering, is leading the research powered by artificial intelligence. Zhou is working with Oregon Health & Science University and Weill Cornell Medicine to code a smartphone application to see if people have signs of early dementia and need a medical diagnosis.

“We develop a lot of machine learning models that produce this medical engineering,” Zhou said, “and using what’s inside the brain to discover what’s normal cognition and those that are suffering from dementia.”

Zhou says artificial intelligence detects small shifts and behavior that people can often pass off. He says if people use the application in the future, it can be more affordable than getting an MRI.

Preliminary tests have taken place by Zhou and his team to study early warning signs of dementia. The tests that took place use research collected from Oregon Health & Science University. They led a clinical trial to study various conversations to see if patterns in speech could detect dementia.

Zhou’s research team looked at how long it takes for artificial intelligence to make a generalized assessment of people.

The app would digest all of the data from people talking and give users a score of how likely they display signs of dementia.

“You can download the app within a couple of minutes and then you can talk to the app for 15 minutes,” Zhou said.”every single sentence makes perfect sense, but if you connect everything you get kind of confused during the conversation.”

Zhou stressed a doctor would make the medical diagnosis after the application tells people about being “at risk.”

“The next two years we are going to put the model into an app and it will help serve people all over the country,” Zhou exclaimed.

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