Artificial Intelligence Detects Suicidal Tendencies in People Using Brain Scans
Recent scientific progress has allowed us to begin decoding the significance of many different patterns of activity in the brain. Researchers have begun to understand patterns associated with disorders such as
Now new research seeks to use
In a paper published this week in
Nature Human Behavior
researchers from Carnegie Mellon University looked at 34 participants, half of whom were experiencing suicidal thoughts. Study participants all underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging (
In a second experiment, researchers also divided participants with suicidal thoughts into two groups: One group that had attempted suicide, and one that had not. A separate algorithm was also able to correctly categorize 16 of those 17 patients.
Why is this important? For one, it gives us insight into how the brains of healthy people and suicidal people differ. In suicidal patients, for example, the word "death" triggered a reaction in the region of the brain associated with shame.
It also may one day provide an additional tool to help diagnose and treat mental health disorders. Psychiatric illnesses are complicated, and often not all that well understood in terms of where they exist in the brain. That's why, for example, the symptoms for disorders like depression often seem vague. A diagnosis of major depressive disorder requires a person to exhibit five of nine symptoms, but two people could wind up with the same diagnosis and have almost no symptoms in common. Understanding where in the brain those problems are occurring could one day lead to more effective means of treating them.