A New Machine Learning Model to Isolate The Effects of Age in Predicting Dementia


Source: WinterLight Labs

Summary: Researchers have recently devised a machine learning method of predicting dementia that prioritizes particular variables when analyzing data.


Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia are a major worldwide challenge, leading to the death of one out of three seniors in the U.S. alone. While the causes of these diseases have not yet been fully grasped, they can have detrimental effects on speech, memory, orientation and other important cognitive abilities. WinterLight Labs is developing AI-based tools that could help detect and monitor Alzheimer’s disease, aphasia, dementia, and other conditions that affect humans’ cognitive abilities. The company has achieved very promising results, developing tools that can classify subtypes of aphasia with up to 100% accuracy and dementia with over 82% accuracy. Researchers have devised a machine learning method of predicting dementia that prioritizes particular variables when analyzing data, which could help to isolate the effects of potentially confounding factors.

Memory loss

Expository histogram plots for the ages of people in the impaired and control groups. Credit: Frank Rudzicz et al.

Their machine learning algorithms predict cognitive impairments and their severity by analyzing human speech and identifying distinctive patterns that are generally associated with dementia or other disorders. For instance, individuals affected by Alzheimer’s tend to describe things more simply, using more pronouns than nouns, and taking longer pauses between words. However, detectable changes in speech or cognition are not always due to dementia or other cognitive impairments; they can also be a mere result of aging. In their study, the team used fair representation learning to devise a method that could help to prioritize certain factors over others when predicting dementia. Their method uses neural network classifiers that learn low-dimensional representations reflecting the impacts of dementia, which do not contain age-related information.

Assoc. Prof. Frank Rudzicz, president of WinterLight Labs said, “We have been working with automatic, language-based assessment of dementia using artificial intelligence for several years.”


More Information: Zhining Zhu et al, “Isolating effects of age with fair representation learning when assessing dementia”, arXiv:180/.07217v1 [csLG]. arxiv.org/abs/1807.07217


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