Artificial Intelligence Changes Early Detection of Dementia – Neuroscience News

Summary: Researchers developed CognoSpeak, an innovative AI tool that aims to streamline the diagnosis of dementia and Alzheimer’s.

Utilizing virtual agents to engage patients in cognitive tests and analyze their language and speech patterns, this tool provides a quick and efficient assessment. CognoSpeak can be accessed via a web browser, enabling patients to take the test at home.

Preliminary trials have shown that the tool is 90% accurate in differentiating Alzheimer’s patients from cognitively healthy individuals.

Key Facts:

  1. CognoSpeak uses AI and speech technology to assess early signs of dementia and Alzheimer’s, with an accuracy rate of 90% in early trials.
  2. The tool can be accessed via a web browser, allowing patients to take the test from home.
  3. With a £1.4 million grant from the NIHR, CognoSpeak is being widely tested across UK memory clinics with a target of 700 participants.

Source: University of Sheffield

A new AI tool that can help doctors assess early signs of dementia and Alzheimer’s more quickly and efficiently, has been developed by researchers at the University of Sheffield.

The system, known as CognoSpeak, uses a virtual agent displayed on a screen to engage patients in conversation. It asks questions that probe memory inspired by those used in outpatient consultations and performs cognitive tests, such as picture descriptions and verbal fluency tests.

The tool then uses artificial intelligence and speech technology to analyze language and speech patterns for signs of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and other memory disorders.

The researchers behind the technology say CognoSpeak could play a key role in reducing the burden of dementia assessment services, once further testing at GP and secondary care memory clinics in the UK is completed.

This system is designed to work between primary and secondary care. This means that once fully rolled out, GPs can refer someone with a memory complaint to use the technology.

CognoSpeak will send the test results back to the general practitioner and then they will decide whether they need to refer the patient to the memory clinic for further examination.

CognoSpeak is accessible via a web browser – meaning patients can take the test in the comfort of their homes via their computer, laptop or tablet, instead of having to wait for an appointment from the hospital to pick up on a pen and paper basis. judgment, which can often cause undue stress and anxiety.

Early trials have shown the technology to be as accurate at predicting Alzheimer’s as current pen-and-paper-based tests used to assess or screen for cognitive, memory, or thinking impairment.

The team has shown 90 percent accuracy for differentiating people with Alzheimer’s from people who are cognitively healthy.

Developed by Dr Dan Blackburn and Professor Heidi Christensen from the University of Sheffield’s Department of Neuroscience and Computer Science, the CognoSpeak system is still in the research phase, but thanks to a £1.4 million grant from the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR), the technology is currently being trialled. more broadly. The researchers recruited 700 participants from memory clinics across the UK to help further develop the system.

Dr Dan Blackburn, from the University of Sheffield’s Department of Neuroscience, said: “Waiting for a possible diagnosis of dementia can be an extremely anxious time for patients and their families. This tool can help patients start treatment more quickly, reduce waiting times, and provide earlier reassurance.

“The CognoSpeak system can change the way dementia and other memory disorders are diagnosed by accelerating assessment. It will also free up valuable time for doctors and means that those who need specialist care get access as quickly as possible.”

Professor Heidi Christensen from the University of Sheffield’s Department of Computer Science, said: “The way a person speaks can tell us a lot about their cognitive health and emotional well-being, and gives us an early indication of possible signs of cognitive decline. otherwise has been detected.

“This system we developed in Sheffield uses speech technology to automatically extract these signals and the automation means we can provide consistent, accurate and fast assessments for everyone.

“CognoSpeak is state-of-the-art, high-tech and based on world-leading research in this field. We have the largest data set for this type of assessment worldwide, which we use to advance the technology and improve its accuracy.”

The CognoSpeak tool has been developed in collaboration with Therapy Box – a company specializing in speech and language technology – and the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) Devices for Dignity MedTech Cooperative (D4D), who lead work with patients, families and community groups. ethnic minorities to ensure that AI is acceptable, reliable and accessible to all future users.

The research team is also working to make the tool accessible to patients from ethnic minority communities who are less likely to engage with dementia services and who may speak English as an additional language.

Lise Sproson, Patient and Public Involvement Lead at D4D said: “We worked closely with various community groups, including the Sheffield’s Israac Somali Community Association, to co-develop the look and feel of the CognoSpeak system, to ensure it was acceptable, relatable and easy to use.

“We trained the AI ​​with various regional English accents and those who spoke English as an additional language, to maintain the accuracy shown previously on tests with native English speakers across the entire population.”

Dr Blackburn, who is also an Honorary Consultant Neurologist at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and a researcher at NIHR Sheffield BRC, added: “There is a real clinical need for this kind of technology.

“There are long waiting lists for memory clinics across the UK but there are also inequalities in accessing memory clinic services. CognoSpeak tools can reduce this inequality and help make services more efficient.”

There are currently around 900,000 people in the UK living with dementia, and this is projected to almost double by 2040, according to the Alzheimer’s Society. Referrals for assessment are increasing rapidly and memory clinics often have long waiting lists.

Professor Mike Lewis, NIHR’s i4i Program Director, said “Cognospeak is an innovative example of how digital health technologies can change the way we treat conditions like dementia, helping find ways to make it easier to find and assess patients to ensure they have access to the right treatment and support.” .

Patients were recruited for the CognoSpeak trial through memory clinics across the UK. To take part in the trial, visit

About this news on artificial intelligence and dementia research

Author: And Blackburn
Source: University of Sheffield
Contact: Dan Blackburn – University of Sheffield
Picture: The image is accredited by Neuroscience News

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