AI helps detect rare form of dementia on patient MRIs

Jan. 13, 2023

Researchers at Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences and University of Leipzig Medical Center have used new artificial intelligence (AI) and machine-learning techniques to detect rare forms of dementia on MRI images.

In their study, the researchers show that AI can automatically recognize patterns in patient imaging data that are specific to rare forms of dementia, enabling early diagnosis. They included Alzheimer's disease with memory impairment, as well as many other diseases that may be characterized by changes in language, personality or motor function. 

Matthias Schroeter, who conducts research at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, and works as a consultant psychiatrist at the Clinic for Cognitive Neurology at University of Leipzig Medical Center, explained, “Questions such as those posed by patients in our study, are typical in everyday clinical practice. First and foremost, the question arises as to the correct diagnosis so that the therapy can be adapted to each individual patient and their specific disease.” 

Schroeter continued, “However, in addition to Alzheimer's dementia, which is the best-known neurodegenerative disease and is characterized by impairments in memory, there are very many other diseases that also require a different therapy. These so-called ‘orphan diseases,’ or rare diseases that can often occur at an early age, require specialized medical centers.” 

In their study, Schroeter and his colleague Leonie Lampe used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to analyze the structure of the brains of patients at University of Leipzig Medical Center, and from other clinical centers in Germany. The researchers used new artificial intelligence and machine-learning techniques to automatically detect these diseases. They were able to show that rare forms of dementia can be detected early in this way. 

In addition to patients who had Alzheimer's disease with memory impairment, they also included many other diseases that can be characterized by a change in language, personality or motor skills. 

“Compared to previous studies, we were not only able to identify ill persons very well when compared to healthy individuals, but in addition, we were able to identify the specific disease compared to other dementia diseases. This is a decisive step on the way to tailored therapy adapted to each individual affected person and their disease,” Matthias Schroeter pointed out. 

Max Planck Institute release

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