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Memory Diagnostics: IT Solutions for Mental Health

Memory Diagnostics: IT Solutions for Mental Health

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High-level technology is becoming an integral part of healthcare, and no field of medicine can work without a computer. HSE University scientists have developed a multilingual tablet application ‘Rey Test’ — the first fully automated and effective tool for diagnosing auditory and verbal memory disorders.

The application was presented at the joint seminar ‘Digital Technologies for Medical Applications’, which was organized as part of the strategic project ‘Digital Transformation: Technologies, Effects, and Performance‘ within the Priority 2030 programme.

The project was selected as part of a competitive process for research projects in 2022 by young HSE scientists (up to 35 years old) on digital transformation and the development of digital technologies..

Igor Agamirzian

‘Digital medicine is an extremely broad area of digital transformation,’ said Igor Agamirzyan, Director of the HSE School of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Project Supervisor, in his welcoming speech.

Olga Buivolova, research fellow of the HSE Center for Language and Brain, presented a report on the application’s development.

Olga Buivolova

‘In practice, we often face a shortage of reliable standardized diagnostic tools. For research, it is necessary to understand how this or that function changes as a result of rehabilitation measures, and, of course, reliable and effective tools are required. Doctors often use a variety of different tools, and it can be difficult to compare the results,’ explains Olga.

At the moment there are no standardized tests in Russian to assess memory condition in both children and adults. There are also no materials available in other languages commonly used in Russia.

A group of scientists created an application for four language versions (Adyghe, Tatar, Ukrainian and Yakut) on the Android platform, and an iOS version is currently being developed. With the help of this tool, we will be able to examine auditory and verbal memory in several languages, something which is particularly relevant in a multilingual environment.

The version adapted for children was presented first.

The Rey test (1964) was developed as a comprehensive assessment of auditory and verbal memory, it helps to assess the condition of short-term and long-term memory, and to evaluate the effectiveness of the task under interference conditions. In addition, it can be done not only using auditory perception, but also through the use ofvisual modality. During the task, the subject is required to memorize a list of 15 words and recall them. During the following stage the subject is required to remember another, ‘distracting’ list of words comparable in linguistic parameters. After being presenting this list, the subject recalls the first list of words. In addition, the influence of temporal interference is investigated: after a 20-minute break the subject is asked to recall the first list of words. During the final stage, the subject must visually identify words from the first list among a group of 50 words.

© iStock

The test result is determined by counting the correct answers. For the Russian-language version, normative data were collected in a large cohort of typically developing children, and benchmarks for normal task completion were determined for age and gender groups of children from 6 to 18 years old. By comparing with the average results, memory disorders and their degree can be determined.

This tool can be used in clinical practice or in research into cognitive functions. Currently, the researchers are working on introducing it in clinical and research practice, as well as preparing clinical recommendations. The developments can be used when diagnosing various psychiatric and neurological diseases.

 ‘The unification of the research procedure and calculation of results, as well as the provision of regulatory data makes the developed tool accurate and effective,’ stresses Olga Buivolova.

Currently, the application is being finalized, a version of the test for use in a group of adult native speakers is also being developed. In the future, the application will be available for download from popular mobile app stores.

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