Alzheimer’s disease is a degenerative brain disorder that is similar to senile dementia except that it begins in the later stages of life, usually after 40 years. Among the first signs and symptoms of the disease are impaired memory along with impaired thought and speech. However, these signs and symptoms appear after a significant damage to the brain.
This disease (along with many other psychiatric problems such as Parkinson’s) can be detected by doctors and experts with the help of drawing and/or writing. However, doctor’s or expert’s opinion matter a lot in detection of such problems, and these problems become apparent only when the patient has already advanced to serious conditions. Without an expert’s opinion, it is difficult to confirm the problem.
Recently, MIT researchers have developed a digital pen that is attached to a custom tracking software. This digital pen can help in finding the condition in early stages by knowing not only what the person draws but also how he/she draws an image or diagram. A simple fact is that healthy people spend more time in thinking, whereas people with memory problems spend a lot more time in thinking and patients of Parkinson’s disease struggle with the process of drawing.
MIT News (http://newsoffice.mit.edu/2015/could-pen-change-how-we-diagnose-brain-function-0813)
Souillard-Mandar et al. (2015). Learning Classification Models of Cognitive Conditions from Subtle
Behaviors in the Digital Clock Drawing Test MLJ