University of Louisville researchers have revealed a groundbreaking artificial intelligence (AI) system designed for the early diagnosis of autism in toddlers.
Decoding Autism Through DT-MRI: Power of Specialized Brain Scans
In a recent report featured by US News, in November 21, 2023, University of Louisville researchers, the team, set to present their findings at the upcoming Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) meeting in Chicago, reports an impressive 98.5% accuracy in diagnosing autism using specialized MRI scans of the brain. Mohamed Khudri, a visiting research scholar involved in the development of the AI system, explains that their algorithm is trained to pinpoint areas of deviation, distinguishing between autistic and neurotypical individuals. This significant leap in early detection holds promise for improved outcomes and intervention strategies, as the University of Louisville researchers team believes therapeutic measures before the age of three could lead to greater independence and higher IQs.
At the heart of the University of Louisville researchers’ AI system lies the utilization of DT-MRI (Diffusion Tensor Magnetic Resonance Imaging), a specialized technique that traces water movement through the brain’s “white matter tracks.” By isolating images from DT-MRI scans and analyzing markers indicating the level of connectivity between different brain areas, the AI system employs a machine learning algorithm to compare patterns in the brains of autistic and typically developing children.
Dr. Gregory Barnes, co-author and director of the Norton Children’s Autism Center, emphasizes that autism is fundamentally characterized by improper connections within the brain, and DT-MRI effectively captures these abnormal connections, shedding light on symptoms such as impaired social communication and repetitive behaviors. The AI approach of University of Louisville researchers demonstrates an impressive overall accuracy of 98.5%, offering a powerful tool for early intervention and support.
Revolutionizing Autism Diagnosis: Overcoming Delays with AI Precision
According to the news reported by Inside Precision Medicine, despite the critical importance of early intervention in managing autism, delays in diagnosis persist. University of Louisville researchers highlight the challenges, including the fact that fewer than half of children with autism receive a developmental evaluation by the age of three.
The AI system, as proposed by the University of Louisville researchers team, could be a game-changer in speeding up the diagnostic process. Not only does it boast a 97% accuracy in identifying real cases of autism without generating false positives, but it also provides a detailed report specifying the affected brain pathways, the likely functional impact, and a severity score for guiding intervention.
With the potential to overcome resource constraints at testing centers, the University of Louisville researchers are now pursuing clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for their innovative AI software, marking a significant step toward more accessible and timely autism diagnosis.