In recent years, Alzheimer’s disease has been on the rise worldwide and is rarely diagnosed at an early stage when it can still be effectively controlled. Using artificial intelligence, KTU researchers conducted a study to determine if human-computer interfaces could be adapted so that people with memory impairments could recognize an object visible in front of them.
Ritis Maskelunas, a researcher in the multimedia engineering department at Kaunas University of Technology (KTU), thinks that the classification of visual information on the face is a daily human task: Can I detect visual stimuli based on signals?
The visual processing of the human face is complex. By analyzing the face, information like a person’s identity or mental state can be perceived by us. The aim of the study was to analyze an individual’s ability to process relevant facial information and to identify how an individual responds to it.
The mouth may indicate the first signs of the disease
According to Maskeliūnas, numerous studies have shown that brain diseases can be potentially diagnosed by examining facial muscles and eye movements, since degenerative brain disorders affect not only memory and cognitive functioning, but also the cranial nervous system associated with facial movements. (Especially the eyelids) above. .
Doyle Komoloviti, a graduate of KTU’s Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences who co-authored the study, shared that the study clarified whether Alzheimer’s patients visually process visible faces in the brain.
“The study uses data from an electroencephalograph, which measures electrical impulses in the brain,” said Kamlovity, who is currently studying for a master’s program in artificial intelligence at the Faculty of Computer Science.
In this study, the experiment was performed on two groups of individuals: healthy and suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
“The brain signals of a person with Alzheimer’s disease are usually much louder than those of a healthy person,” Kamlovity said, referring to a factor that makes it harder for a person to concentrate and pay attention when experiencing symptoms. Alzheimer’s disease.
Pictures of human faces were shown during the study
The study selected an older group of women over the age of 60: “Advanced age is one of the major risk factors for dementia, and since sexual effects have been observed in brain waves, the study is more specific when selecting only one sex group.
During the study, each participant underwent an experiment lasting up to an hour, during which pictures of human faces were shown. According to the researchers, these photos were selected according to a number of criteria: in analyzing the effects of emotions, neutral and terrifying faces were shown, while in analyzing the factors of acquaintance, familiar and randomly selected individuals were provided to study participants.
To see if a person was seeing and understanding a face correctly, study participants were asked to press a button after each stimulus to see if the indicated face was inverted or correct.
“Even at this stage, an Alzheimer’s patient makes a mistake, so it is important to determine if the loss of the object is due to memory or vision processes,” the researcher explained.
Inspired by real-life interactions with Alzheimer’s patients
Mascalunus reveals that his work on Alzheimer’s disease began with his collaboration with the Huntington’s Disease Association, which opened his eyes to what many of these neurodegenerative diseases actually look like.
Researchers have also contacted patients with Alzheimer’s disease directly: “I have found that diagnoses are usually delayed if the brain is already irreversibly damaged. Year of life.
Today we see how human-computer interaction is adapted to lighten the lives of people with physical disabilities. Controlling a robotic arm by “thinking” or writing text imagining a paralyzed person is not a new concept. Yet trying to understand the human brain is perhaps one of the most difficult tasks today.
In this study, researchers worked with data from standard electroencephalograph instruments, however, Mascalunus noted that to create a practical instrument, it would be better to use data collected from invasive microelectrodes, which could more accurately measure neuron activity. . This will greatly enhance the quality of AI models.
“Of course, in addition to the technical requirements, there needs to be a community environment to make life easier for people with Alzheimer’s disease. Yet in my personal opinion, five years later, I think we will still see technology focused on improving physical functioning, and the focus on people with brain disease in this area will only come later, “said Muskeleunas.
According to Komolovaitė, a Masters student, a clinical trial is required with the help of colleagues in medicine, so this step of the process will take a long time: “If we want to use this test as a medical device, a certification process is also required.”