ANGELS – How old is your brain really? Scientists say that just like people who look older than they really are, a person’s brain can age faster than the rest of their body. With this in mind, researchers at USC have created an artificial intelligence program that can accurately tell how old a person’s brain is, while also pointing to warning signs for Alzheimer’s disease.
The AI program analyzes MRI brain scans looking for signs of cognitive decline linked to neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s. Brain aging is one of the most reliable markers for neurodegenerative disease risk. This is actually more useful than looking at a patient’s chronological age (date of birth).
The researchers note that a patient’s risk increases when their brains show «older» features than you might expect to see in a person of that age. artificial intelligence was able to detect these markers, which are typically difficult to detect and have been linked to cognitive decline.
«Our study leverages the power of deep learning to identify aging regions of the brain that reflect a cognitive decline that can lead to Alzheimer’s,» says corresponding author Andrei Irimia, assistant professor of gerontology, biomedical engineering, quantitative and computational biology. and neuroscience at the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology media broadcast.
«People age at different rates, and so do the types of tissues in the body. We get this when we say ‘So-and-so looks like forty but thirty.’ may look as «old» as the brain.
AI system can predict brain age in 2 years
During their project, Irimia’s team collected brain MRI scans of 4,681 cognitively normal participants. While some of these individuals continue to develop cognitive impairment, others full-blown Alzheimer’s in his next life.
They fed this data into an artificial intelligence model called a «neural network,» where it started to estimate each person’s age based on brain scans. To do this, the researchers first had to train the machine to produce detailed anatomical maps of the brain that revealed the patient’s specific condition. aging characteristics.
The team then compared each person’s biological brain age to their actual chronological age. The larger the difference between these two numbers, the worse a participant’s cognitive score was — increasing their Alzheimer’s risk.
The new AI program was able to predict brain age by 2.3 years of a healthy patient’s chronological age. That’s one year closer than current medical tests that predict brain age. The team believes this is a good sign. AI can accurately find people with the brain aging faster at risk of serious illness.
«Interpretable AI can be a powerful tool for assessing the risk of Alzheimer’s and other neurocognitive diseases,» says Irimia, who is also a member of the USC Viterbi School of Engineering and the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.
“The sooner we can identify people at high risk for Alzheimer’s disease, the sooner clinicians can intervene with treatment options, monitoring, and disease management. What makes artificial intelligence particularly powerful is what other methods cannot do, which is key to determining a person’s risk years before they develop the condition. It is the ability to capture the subtle and complex features of aging.”
Men show more signs of brain aging
Interestingly, certain parts of the AI program the brain ages faster more men than women and vice versa.
However, men were more likely to experience faster brain aging in the motor cortex, the region responsible for motor function. This did not surprise scientists, because men are at higher risk. Parkinson’s diseaseIt is a neurodegenerative disease that causes motor impairment over time.
The study also found that brain aging in the right hemisphere of the brain is relatively slower in women. This may come as a surprise to some, as a recent study found that older women undergo certain biological changes. which puts them at a higher risk Developing Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia
Overall, 6.5 million Americans are dealing with Alzheimer’s. Governments only start approving drugs can stop or prevent cognitive decline, but there is still no definitive cure for the disease.
«One of the key applications of our work is its potential to pave the way for tailored interventions that address each individual’s unique patterns of aging,» Irimia said.
“Many people are interested in knowing the actual rates of aging. The information can give us clues about the different lifestyle changes or interventions a person can adopt to improve their overall health and well-being. Our methods include patient-centered treatment plans and personalized brain aging that may appeal to people with different health needs and goals. It can be used to design maps.»
The findings were published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
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