A Chance for Early Detection of Cognitive Deficits

For several decades neurologists have used a deceptively simple test to help diagnose cognitive capabilities: patients are asked to draw a clock face showing a particular time. New technology -- a ballpoint pen that digitizes as you write -- has made it possible to collect data from this test that is hundreds of times more precise than anything that can be discerned from ink on paper, as well as enabling virtually instant analysis of the data. Our current software makes several hundred measurements on each test, enabling new avenues of diagnosis for a range of diseases.

A multi-site clinical study currently underway is collecting data from 7 clinics around the US; to date data has been gathered from more than 1500 tests. Prelminary analysis of that data suggest that it enables diagnosing conditions such as Alzheimer's far earlier than they can otherwise be detected.

This is an extraordinary opportunity for someone with a good background in statistical analysis and/or machine learning, or the willingness and the time to get up to speed on tools like SVM-Light. This is innovative research with a good chance for publication.

UROP and MEng students will work closely with Professor Randall Davis and members of his group. Please send a brief description of relevant research and coursework background, short-term and longer-term availability and interest, and a copy of your resume to davis@csail.mit.edu.