May 21, 2024
AI Technology Estimates Brain

New AI Technology Estimates Brain Age Using Affordable EEG Devices: A Potential Early Detection Tool for Neurological Disorders

As we age, so does our brain. However, premature brain aging can lead to age-related diseases such as mild cognitive impairment, dementia, and Parkinson’s disease. If brain age could be easily calculated, it could help identify individuals at risk of these conditions before serious health issues arise.

Researchers from Drexel University’s Creativity Research Lab have developed an artificial intelligence (AI) technique to estimate brain age based on electroencephalogram (EEG) brain scans. This technology could make early, regular screening for degenerative brain diseases more accessible. The findings were published in the journal Frontiers in Neuroergonomics.

John Kounios, Ph.D., professor in Drexel’s College of Arts and Sciences and Creativity Research Lab director, led the research team. They employed machine learning to estimate brain age from EEG data, similar to how one might guess another person’s age based on their physical appearance.

When meeting someone new, we often try to estimate their age: Do they have gray hair? Are there wrinkles? said Kounios. When we learn their actual age, we might be surprised at how young or old they look for their age. This brain-age gap can indicate premature aging, which can increase the risk of neurological disorders.

Currently, machine-learning algorithms can learn from MRI images of healthy brains to predict an individual’s brain age. However, EEGs offer a less expensive and less invasive alternative. Kounios and his colleagues developed a method to estimate brain age using EEGs instead of MRIs.

Brain-age estimates are crucial health markers, but they have not been widely used in healthcare due to the high cost and limited availability of brain imaging techniques. However, the team’s new AI technology can estimate a person’s brain age using a low-cost EEG system.

Electroencephalography (EEG) is a non-invasive procedure that records brain waves using a headset. This technology can be used to screen large populations for vulnerability to age-related neurological disorders at a relatively low cost. Regular screenings can help monitor the effectiveness of medications and other interventions.

Drexel University has licensed this brain-age estimation technology to Canadian health care company DiagnaMed Holdings for incorporation into a new digital health platform.

The research was co-authored by Fengqing Zhang, Ph.D., Yongtaek Oh, Ph.D., both from Drexel University, and Jessica Fleck, Ph.D., from Stockton University.

1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
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