An article I found interesting on Science Daily was an article titled “Pupil Dilation and Heart Rate, analyzed by AI, May Help Spot Autism Early”. This article suggests that two simple quantifiable measures could allow for earlier recognition and diagnosis of Rett syndrome and other disorders closely related to autism spectrum disorder (ASD). As you may know, autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders often go unnoticed in the first few years of a child’s life. Those first few years are the most critical for therapies to be effective. New research shows spontaneous fluctuations in pupil dilation or heart rate may allow researchers to identify those children with Rett syndrome and similar disorders much earlier. A study done at Boston Children’s Hospital “unveiled a machine-learning algorithm that can spot abnormalities in pupil dilation that are predictive of autism spectrum disorder in mouse models” (Boston Children’s Hospital, 2019). It also showed that the algorithm could detect Rett syndrome in girls. Based on previous evidence that showed that people with ASD have altered behavior states and that their brains also have disturbed cholinergic circuit which affects pupillary dilation and heart rate. They tested 35 girls with Retts and 40 girls without, the algorithm pick up the heart rate fluctuations in 80 % of the girls with Retts in the first and second year of life. Together with EEG measure of visual processing, a screening tool could be utilized for infants and toddlers thus enhancing early treatment options when they matter most.
The science behind this study could forewarn parents and healthcare providers about impending neurodevelopmental disturbances. Early recognition could lead to early interventions during primary stages of development. This algorithm would allow healthcare professionals to follow their progression of development and treatments for efficacy. This AI algorithm would even make it possible to evaluate a newborn baby.
Boston Children’s Hospital. (2019, July 24). Pupil Dilation and Heart Rate, Analyzed by AI, May Help Spot Autism Early. Retrieved from Science Daily: www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/07/190724019.htm