Computers Diagnose Autism From Scans

Program like facial recognition software recognizes signs of disorder
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 11, 2010 7:18 AM CDT
Updated Aug 11, 2010 7:48 AM CDT
Computers Diagnose Autism From Scans
A patient is examined during a brain scan at the University Hospital in Liege, Belgium, in this file photo.   (AP Photo/Yves Logghe)

Scientists have taught a computer to recognize autism from a brain scan, and believe that from now on they could use a scan to diagnose the disorder with 90% accuracy. A London-based team of researchers ran MRI scans from 20 known autism sufferers and 20 normal brains through a program much like those used for facial or handwriting recognition, the Independent reports. The program quickly identified the differences between the two groups.

Now, within 15 minutes, a patient could know if he suffers from autism, and how severe that autism is. So far, the tests have only used adult males, but the researchers intend to soon expand it to women and children. “We are very excited,” said the lead researcher. “We are saying this is 'proof of concept.' But it works very well in our clinic and we hope to roll it out … in a year or two.” (More autism stories.)

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