Artificial intelligence (AI) could soon help screen for Alzheimer’s disease by analyzing writing. The New York Times shred this news in their article, “Alzheimer’s Prediction May Be Found in Writing Tests.”

Researchers have already trained various models to look for signs of cognitive impairments, including Alzheimer’s, by using different types of data, such as brain scans and clinical test results. But the latest work stands out because it used historical information from the multigenerational Framingham Heart Study, which has been tracking the health of more than 14,000 people from three generations since 1948.

Researchers used digital transcriptions of handwritten responses from participants who were asked to describe a particular picture. The main AI model was able to detect linguistic features that are sometimes related to early signs of cognitive impairment. They include certain misspellings, repeated words and the use of simplified phrases rather than grammatically complex sentences. This evidence is in line with clinicians’ understanding of how Alzheimer’s disease can impact language.

The disease and the technology are both multi-faceted and more complicated than this easy description, but the point is there is hope for additional insights into how the disease works and identifying it sooner via AI.

Melody K. Smith

Sponsored by Data Harmony, a unit of Access Innovations, the world leader in indexing and making content findable.