Cognitive functioning — an individual’s ability to think and to learn — has multiple components. Cognition involves reasoning, memory, attention, language, and more. The Center for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) established the Healthy Brain Initiative to study and develop resources to work with cognitive decline. Many cognitive function studies focus on dementia, including Alzheimer’s Disease, but stroke, traumatic brain injury, and other events or conditions can also cause cognitive decline. In many cases, as with Alzheimer’s, there is no cure for cognitive decline but early detection and treatment can often slow the progression of the disease.

Last year, Mindstrong Health obtained funding to continue its study of smartphone and social media interactions to diagnose and treat neuropsychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders. Mindstrong uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to evaluate digital biomarkers from the interactions. A peer-reviewed article in NPJ Digital Medicine demonstrated that Mindstrong’s passive measures of smartphone use correlated with conventional gold-standard neurocognitive tests. The study unscored four advantages of Mindstrong’s technology: patients do not need to take any special action, patients don’t need to go to a doctor’s office or clinic but can remain at home or wherever they would normally be, the measurements are continuous, and the data from the studies can scale up quickly and massively with the increased global use of smartphones.

The opportunities to advance the understanding and practice of medicine using artificial intelligence, big data, and digital devices have promise for much more than predicting cognitive function decline. , The encroaching threat of Alzheimer’s Disease in the U.S. and other countries with aging populations, however, may continue to help such studies receive the necessary funding.