Facial Recognition Program IDs Parkinson’s Patients


Аvera Allen, Deputy Editor In Chief

Date: 02.04.2021

Differences in the facial appearance and emotional expressions of people with Parkinson’s disease and  healthy adults were evident to a facial recognition software program, researchers from Okayama University reported.

The program’s algorithm consistently overestimated the age of the nearly 100 patients in this study by a few years, particularly for males, and perceived their expressions as “emotionless” significantly more than those of the age-matched adults serving as a control group.

With improvements, especially those that raise ethical concerns like a greater inaccuracy with darker skin tones, such programs may help in diagnosing and managing Parkinson’s, the researchers wrote.

Parkinson’s-associated motor symptoms, such as tremors and muscular rigidity, affect a person’s ability to show emotions via facial expressions, with implications for a patient’s sense of self-esteem and engagement in social life.

Artificial intelligence (AI) may be more able than other methods to track and quantify these changes with disease progression.

AI-based facial recognition technology analyzes facial characteristics, such as age, emotions, and skin texture, and could prove useful in assessing Parkinson’s-related changes.

But the “classification accuracy of commercial facial recognition software differs depending on gender and skin color,” the scientists wrote, and this “potential ethical issue should be carefully discussed and resolved to apply the facial recognition technology to medical situations.”

Researchers at Okayama University recruited 97 adults with Parkinson’s — at different disease stages — and 96 healthy adults (mean age of 69.5 for both groups) to their study.

By Аvera Allen | Linkedin

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