Psychiatrists typically diagnose autism spectrum disorders (ASD) by observing a person’s behavior and by leaning on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), widely considered the ‘bible’ of mental health diagnosis.
However, there are substantial differences amongst individuals on the spectrum and a great deal remains unknown by science about the causes of autism, or even what autism is. As a result, an accurate diagnosis of ASD and a prognosis prediction for patients can be extremely difficult.
But what if artificial intelligence (AI) could help? Deep learning, a type of AI, deploys artificial neural networks based on the human brain to recognize patterns in a way that is akin to, and in some cases can surpass, human ability. The technique, or rather suite of techniques, has enjoyed remarkable success in recent years in fields as diverse as voice recognition, translation, autonomous vehicles, and drug discovery.
A group of researchers from KAIST in collaboration with the YonseiUniversity College of Medicine has applied these deep learning techniques to autism diagnosis. Their findings were published on August 14 in the journal IEEE Access.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans of brains of people known to have autism have been used by researchers and clinicians to try to identify structures of the brain they believed were associated with ASD. These researchers have achieved considerable success in identifying abnormal gray and white matter volume and irregularities in cerebral cortex activation and connections as being associated with the condition.
These findings have subsequently been deployed in studies attempting more consistent diagnoses of patients than has been achieved via psychiatrist observations during counseling sessions. While such studies have reported high levels of diagnostic accuracy,