Your Driving Habits Can Reveal Early Signs Of Alzheimer’s, Scientists Say

Mental Health News: Studies have found that people with symptomatic Alzheimer disease (AD) often drive shorter distances and visit fewer new locations compared with people without AD.

AD is the common cause of dementia. The preclinical stage of AD is characterised by brain changes without any manifestations of cognitive symptoms. Subtle changes in the early stage can disturb complex behaviours such as driving.

The study published in Alzheimer’s Research & Therapy used GPS data as a biomarker for identifying preclinical AD. For the research, they hired 75 people without preclinical AD and 64 people with preclinical AD. These participants were already enrolled in studies on aging, dementia, and driving.

The research team installed GPS data loggers with custom software in participants’ vehicles. The team recorded 1 year of driving data and measured the participants’ driving performance (speed, acceleration, jerk, hard braking) and driving space (places travelled). Using applied machine learning to the datasets the researcher predicted the preclinical AD.

The predictive model correctly predicted preclinical AD 89% of the time. Results indicate that GPS driving may work as an effective and accurate digital biomarker for detecting preclinical AD among older adults.

“Recent advances in the development of plasma AD biomarkers have led to newly available blood tests for abnormality of AD-related proteins, and these blood tests may ultimately become widely used in clinical practice to diagnose AD,” the researchers concluded. “Machine learning methods like those used here should also be applied to determining the optimal combination of driving behaviours to identify and predict blood-based AD diagnoses.”

To Know More You May Refer To:

Bayat, S., Babulal, G.M., Schindler, S.E. et al. GPS driving: a digital biomarker for preclinical Alzheimer disease. Alz Res Therapy 13, 115 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1186/s13195-021-00852-1

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