Artificial Intelligence Prevents Dementia?


St. Louis, Mo. (Ivanhoe Newswire)— Artificial intelligence, or AI, allows machines to work more efficiently and solve problems faster. AI is all the buzz in the healthcare industry right now. It’s already in the operating room with robot-assisted surgeries and behind the scenes safeguarding your private health records. And now, AI may also help to prevent some diseases, dementia.

The same technology used in self driving cars, smart assistants and disease mapping may also help to solve one of healthcare’s biggest problems—how to stave off dementia.

“What we’re trying to do is intervene at that point when it starts to sharply decline to bring those skills back up,” shared Adam Woods, PhD, University of Florida Center for Cognitive Aging and Memory.

(Read Full Interview)

A team at the University of Florida is using targeted transcranial direct current stimulation to save memories.

“It’s a weak form of electrical stimulation applied to the scalp. And this weak electric current actually has the ability to alter how the neurons behave,” continued Woods.

Electrical stimulation isn’t new. But combining it with AI to personalize the treatment is new.

“Everyone is different. It’s like a fingerprint of our brains, right?” Woods said.

Using an MRI, researchers can see the thickness of the skull and the amounts of certain tissue.

“We try to look at anatomy of each person’s brain,” explained Ruogu Fang, PhD, University of Florida College of Engineering.

“We’re using artificial intelligence to dive into this really robust individual data and really understand what are the patterns of current and where in the brain are most associated with positive clinical outcomes,” stated Woods.

In a pilot study, TDCS combined with cognitive training improved cognition and brain function after only two weeks. Larger studies are now underway in hopes of saving memories in the future and preventing dementia.

“When you talk to patients, which we have, and you say, okay, how long, how long for you would be meaningful? You might be expecting a year, five years, 10 years. And the answer comes back days. We think we can do better than days. We think we can do better than weeks, but this technology is our best push right now to try to move this needle further and further back,” said Woods.

A new larger study is underway using data from the National Institute on Aging. Using this information, researchers believe they can not only personalize dementia prevention, but also many other medical problems. Electrical stimulation is being used for now.

Contributors to this news report include: Marsha Lewis, Producer; Roque Correa, Videographer; Roque Correa, Editor.

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REPORT:       MB #4998

AI BACKGROUND: Artificial intelligence or AI has a wide-rang of definitions. It is a branch of computer science that builds smart machines capable of preforming tasks that would typically need humans to perform. There are four types of artificial intelligences, reactive machines, limited memory, theory of mind, and self-awareness. Examples of artificial intelligence include Siri, Alexa and other smart assistants, self-driving cars such as Teslas, robo advisors, conversational bots, email spam filters, and even something as simple as Netflix’s recommendations which feed off of your personal algorithm of previously watched shows.


HOW AI WORKS: Artificial intelligence works by consuming large amounts of data with iterative processing and intelligent algorithms, allowing the software to learn automatically from patterns or features in the data. There are several sub-fields of AI such as ‘machine learning’ which automates analytical model building, a ‘neural network’ which is a type of machine learning that is made up of interconnected units similar to neurons that processes information by responding to external inputs, relaying information between each unit. AI uses ‘deep learning’ to utilize huge neural networks with many layers of processing units so that it can learn complex patterns in large amounts of data. ‘Computer vision’ relies on pattern recognition and deep learning to recognize what’s in a picture or video and ‘natural language processing’ or NLP is the ability of computers to analyze, understand and generate human language, including speech.


AI FOR HEALTH: Using artificial intelligence for healthcare can be revolutionary because it can enhance efficiency by making routine tasks automated which would in turn hopefully decrease health-related costs. It could broaden access to healthcare delivery, and target patient needs more precisely. Using AI is also expected to change the way doctors diagnose, prevent and treat patients as well as the way they interact with technologies. However, in order for these benefits to become reality, governments and health care authorities have to efficiently regulate the AI tools and make sure they are truly effective for patients and doctors alike. Some artificial intelligence tools have already been approved by the FDA, such as AI-powered devices to diagnose eye diseases. There are potential risks to involving AI in health care such as bias data infiltrating the algorithm or patient’s loss of trust in their provider due to them using artificial intelligence.



Taylor Todd

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Doctor Q and A

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