According to The Asahi Shimbun, Japanese scientists have devised a simple test to evaluate cognitive functions of elderly people to determine signs of early onset of dementia.
The method developed by researchers at Osaka University involves patients watching visual images and answering questions for 3 minutes.
Team members said the beauty of the test is that it is over quickly, thereby lessening the psychological burden on patients. Typically, a medical examination by a doctor takes about 20 minutes.
Tests on 80 patients at Osaka University Hospital produced almost the same outcome as face-to-face interviews by doctors.
According to Shuko Takeda, an associate professor of dementia at the university involved in the research, eight questions are projected on the screen for 3 minutes.
For example, a patient might be asked “which one is the pentagon?” and then various shapes will appear on the screen. Infrared cameras follow the eye movements of patients. Cognitive functions, such as memorization, judgment and attentiveness, are evaluated with AI technology.
The test reduces stress levels caused by face-to-face examinations because the patients simply watch images.
“As the number of patients with dementia is increasing, it is getting difficult for doctors to find the time to carry out examinations,” Takeda said. “Our hope is to detect dementia in the early stages with simple tests."
He added that this type of test is expected to help cut down on car accidents involving elderly drivers.
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