IBM researchers trained artificial intelligence to pick up hints of changes in language ahead of the onset of neurological diseases.
a writing test before any of them had developed Alzheimer’s that asks subjects to describe a drawing of a boy standing on an unsteady stool and reaching for a cookie jar on a high shelf while a woman, her back to him, is oblivious to an overflowing sink. The researchers examined the subjects’ word usage with an artificial intelligence program that looked for subtle differences in language. It identified one group of subjects who were more repetitive in their word usage at that earlier time when all of them were cognitively normal.
they used telegraphic language, meaning language that has a simple grammatical structure and is missing subjects and words like “the,” “is” and “are.” The members of that group turned out to be the people who developed Alzheimer’s disease.
Dr. Adam Boxer, director of the neurosciences clinical research unit at the University of California, San Francisco, is also studying frontotemporal dementia. His tool is a smartphone app. His subjects are healthy people who have inherited a genetic predisposition to develop the disease. His method is to show subjects a picture and ask them to record a description of what they see.