A Machine-learning Based Assessment Method for Early-stage Neurocognitive Impairment by an Immersive Virtual Supermarket

Chia Fen Tsai, Chun Chuan Chen, Eric Hsiao Kuang Wu, Chia Ru Chung, Cheng Yi Huang, Po Yi Tsai, Shih Ching Yeh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a neurodegenerative disorder. Though it is not yet curable or reversible, research has shown that clinical intervention or intensive cognitive training at an early stage may effectively delay the progress of the disease. As a result, screening populations with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or early AD via efficient, effective and low-cost cognitive assessments is important. Currently, a cognitive assessment relies mostly on cognitive tests, such as the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) or the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA), which must be performed by therapists. Also, cognitive functions can be divided into a variety of dimensions, such as memory, attention, executive function, visual spatial and so on. Executive functions (EF), also known as executive control or cognitive control, refer to a set of skills necessary to perform higher-order cognitive processes, including working memory, planning, attention, cognitive flexibility, and inhibitory control. Along with the fast progress of virtual reality (VR) and artificial intelligence (AI), this study proposes an intelligent assessment method aimed at assessing executive functions. Utilizing machine learning to develop an automatic evidence-based assessment model, behavioral information is acquired through performing executive-function tasks in a VR supermarket. Clinical trials were performed individuals with MCI or early AD and six healthy participants. Statistical analysis showed that 45 out of 46 indices derived from behavioral information were found to differ significantly between individuals with neurocognitive disorder and healthy participants. This analysis indicates these indices may be potential bio-markers. Further, machine-learning methods were applied to build classifiers that differentiate between individuals with MCI or early AD and healthy participants. The accuracy of the classifier is up to 100%, demonstrating the derived features from the VR system were highly related to diagnosis of individuals with MCI or early AD.

Keywords

  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • assessment
  • Cognitive impairment
  • machine learning
  • Machine learning
  • Resists
  • Senior citizens
  • Task analysis
  • Training
  • Trajectory
  • Virtual environments
  • virtual reality

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