Advances in artificial intelligence (AI) in various fields have also reached neuroscience. One of the most important developments is its application for the early detection of certain diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, whose international day is celebrated on September 21st.
There are already notable advances in the world where AI is facilitating deep and accurate analysis of neuropsychological data, neuroimaging and biomarkers. “Machine learning algorithms can analyze large datasets such as brain images and cognitive test scores to uncover patterns that are very hard to spot. These patterns can reveal early signs of the disease and provide a solid basis for an accurate diagnosis, even long before the first cognitive symptoms appear. VoiceSpanish telecommunications engineer Marta García Rodríguez, head of research+development+i of the Spanish Intras Foundation, a benchmark in the creation of healthcare technologies.
It is estimated that more than 35 million people worldwide are living with some type of dementia. Silvina Rubiolo, a neuroscientist at the Oulton Institute, elaborates that this figure is doubling every two decades, which means that in 2050 their number will reach 115 million (Alzheimer’s Disease International, 2013).
“According to data provided by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), by 2030, the incidence of dementia is expected to increase by about 50 percent in high-income countries and by almost 80 percent in high-income countries. middle- and low-income countries,” says Rubiolo.
Compared to conditions such as strokes, arthritis, depression, and vision, hearing or breathing problems, dementia is one of the leading causes of addiction, he says. “Objective criteria support the classification of dementia as a major public health problem,” he says.
He adds: “Most importantly, many people with Alzheimer’s disease today have limited access to comprehensive care. This is happening even in the most developed countries and is particularly pronounced in low- and middle-income countries. In them, as in Argentina, a very low percentage of people with any type of dementia, such as Alzheimer’s disease, receive a diagnosis and adequate treatment.
Thus, due to its high prevalence, this disease continues to be a global public health problem because, despite efforts to find a pharmacological treatment, there is currently no drug that meets the safety and efficacy criteria required for its use on a large scale. prevention or treatment.
“In Alzheimer’s disease, the underlying pathophysiological processes begin six to ten years before we see symptoms on a daily basis or in the office,” explains Fatima Gonzalez Palau, PhD in neuropsychology and director of the Gonzalez Palau Center. It refers to symptoms in memory, behavior, or functionality.
“We call this phase the preclinical phase, and this is the phase that holds the promise of preventing deterioration, so capturing and tracking these subtle changes in cognition at this stage quickly, non-invasively, cost-effectively, and with high sensitivity is extremely important. important,” he says.
In this context, he says, efforts have been growing for years to try to identify biological biomarkers, as well as neuropsychological and behavioral markers, that provide clues to the transition from “normal” cognition to the first symptoms of the disease. “In terms of neuropsychological markers, we are trying to identify in the office and through cognitive tests when forgetfulness or behavioral change is an early symptom of the disease, and when it is not,” the expert says.
In this sense, AI can be a great ally, as it allows you to analyze large datasets and identify patterns that may indicate early signs of Alzheimer’s disease and are difficult to detect in any other way.
González Palau argues that continuous monitoring is another aspect where AI excels. “Devices such as wearables and other sensors allow us to track changes in movement, monitor sleep patterns, and can provide us with a lot of lifestyle or environmental information, analysis of which over time can provide feedback that allows us to detect subtle signs of , which may indicate the early presence of Alzheimer’s disease. This may allow comprehensive measures to be taken before symptoms become apparent,” he notes.
Psychologist Raquel Losada Durán, Director of Applied Research and Knowledge at the Fundación Intras in Spain, explains that the “Identia” project, supported by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation and the European Union, aims to develop and implement an AI-based predictive model that, based on immersive virtual reality and its combination with other neuropsychological and socio-demographic variables makes it possible to identify subclinical conditions that contribute to the early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease.
Neurologist Maria de la Paz Scribano, a professor at the National University of Córdoba, warns that the development of early detection systems is limited by the depressing panorama in the field of treatment, since “there are currently no disease-modifying drugs.” In any case, says Scribano, numerous cardiovascular and lifestyle-related protective factors have been found “that slow the progression of symptoms when applied early.”
In this sense, Dr. Ruth Kaplan, Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences at Siglo 21 University, points out that although there are currently no pharmacological measures that can stop the progression of the disease, early detection provides access to pharmacological and non-pharmacological treatment strategies. Among them, in his opinion, is the formation of lifestyle habits that can help slow the progression and will be more effective if started at an early stage. “This allows for greater independence in daily activities and reduces the emotional and family burden that often accompanies late diagnosis, providing a better quality of life for the patient and those around them,” Kaplan says.
Healthy habits are the basis of brain health
Fatima Gonzalez Palau, Doctor of Neuropsychology
Many doctors are turning to magical and quick solutions that will allow us to strengthen our brains and prevent such dangerous neurological diseases. However, the consensus in the scientific community today is very clear: healthy habits are the foundation of brain care.
These habits are based on principles for which more and more scientific evidence is being supported: frequent aerobic exercise, healthy eating, socializing with friends and family, learning to manage stress and persistent mental difficulties seem to be unreplaceable by any technology. vaccine or prophylactic supplement.
Despite countless efforts to find something simpler (and faster for today’s world), it is important to understand that beyond the new strategies that emerge along with the promising solutions artificial intelligence will give us, a comprehensive approach to general healthcare will continue to be relevant. needed to keep the mind sharp throughout life. A sedentary lifestyle, both physical and cognitive, isolation, chronic stress, and poor nutrition today and will be the worst enemies of brain health today and in the future.
Those of us who are waiting for magical answers will have to understand that the true answer lies in the daily effort we dedicate to looking after ourselves and our holistic well-being. Prioritizing, setting healthy limits, and listening to the needs of our bodies and minds are important steps along the way. In a world full of distractions, making time for a healthy habit is sure to be a luxury that will have a big impact on our brain and emotional health in the short, medium and long term.
The Ciatec Foundation organizes an expert group “To Anticipate is to Prevent: Habits and Suggestions to Protect Our Brain”. Wednesday, 6, at 18:00, in the hall of the Delia Caminotti of the Botanical Garden in the city of Córdoba.
Open and free with pre-registration (https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSefZQXXDqttQFR_CRUHDFDaEl5zluOzCA3XxdqvxqEVSQrm6A/viewform).
The event is attended by specialists from the González Palau Center, the Oulton Institute, the Private Hospital, the Model Institute of Cardiology, the Allende Sanatorium, UES21 and the Ciatec Foundation.