Could AI Help Determine Whether You Have Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s?

A doctor from Duke University teamed up with Microsoft to better understand the physical movements of computer users. They believe that the way in which people move their mouse or type could provide clues regarding diseases such as Parkinson’s.

This area of research, defined by quantifiable behavioral and physiological data or “digital biomarkers,” is believed to be particularly useful for brain conditions, including Alzheimer’s.

Study Finds Possible Link Between Physical Computer Movements and Neurodegeneration

After working their way through the data, Microsoft researchers and a Duke University doctor made a shocking realization. They had analyzed data from millions of internet searches, finding an association between select behaviors and Parkinson’s. These include one’s average scrolling velocity, tremors while using a mouse, and repeat queries.

Using AI is a trend that is gaining popularity in healthcare research. The ultimate goal is to better diagnose and treat patients suffering from a wide range of conditions. By monitoring information on everyday behaviors and movements, researchers may uncover insights which lead to early intervention.

When dealing with any disease, including Alzheimer’s, the earlier you obtain an accurate diagnosis, the better. This will allow you to benefit from potentially time-sensitive treatment options. That is also why we recommend the BrainTest® app. This assessment tool can help you detect any possible early warning signs so that you can intervene much sooner.

In Summary

This particular study focused on more than 31 million user searches across an 18-month period. Approximately 700 of the user searches were for Parkinson’s, while the remaining searches were considered the control group. By using this information, researchers hope to see patterns as someone transitions from normal, healthy aging to the early stages of Alzheimer’s.

It is important to note that this data is not directly associated with individual users.

Microsoft Developed a Wristband to Assist Patients with Parkinson’s

This is not the first time that Microsoft has been involved in Parkinson’s research and development. In 2017, the “Emma Watch” prototype was released, helping to reduce tremors experienced by those suffering from the neurological disease. Vibrating with a distinct pattern, this watch is believed to disrupt the brain-to-hand feedback loop.

The device is named after the Parkinson’s patient who helped create the watch. Her tremors were significant but improved using rhythmic vibrations. Since the pattern of vibration differs from one patient to the next, the individual can connect their watch to a Windows 10 tablet to adjust vibration speed.

Assistive Technology Available For Alzheimer’s

Assistive technology offers many benefits within the Alzheimer’s community. Their main purpose is to help compensate for cognitive and physical deficits. However, this technology can also support caregivers. These assistive devices range from low-tech items to high-tech items.

Currently, there many devices available for Alzheimer’s. These range from devices that can assist with daily living to those that enhance safety. Some examples include:

  • Automated prompts and reminders, including those which remind someone to take their medication. Automatic calendar clocks are also common.
  • Safety devices such as automated shut-off devices, fall sensors, and flood prevention devices. Another great option is location tracking devices. For those who tend to wander, tracking devices can help ensure a rapid and safe recovery in an emergency situation.
  • Technology that enhances social engagement and leisure, including electronic apps, digital photo frames, and sensory stimulation equipment.

Although these types of devices do not replace the need for carers, assistive technology can help patients live a more independent lifestyle for a longer period of time. Technology is also improving all the time, so who knows what the future may hold.

If you or a loved one were recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, now is the time to plan ahead. Research the types of available technology with regards to your current and predicted future circumstances. By accessing these assistive devices, you can simplify daily tasks, reducing stress and confusion.

For more information on the relationship between technology and degenerative conditions, please refer to:


Krista Hillis has a B.A.Sc degree, specializing in neuroscience and psychology. She is actively involved in the mental health and caregiving community, aiming to help others. Krista is also passionate about nutrition and the ways in which lifestyle choices affect and influence the human brain.

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