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A Recent Study Uses Brain Structure Analysis and Artificial Intelligence to Identify Anxiety in Young People

A study found that using artificial intelligence (AI), people with anxiety problems can be identified based on the specific structure of their brains. The study included over 3,500 young people from all across the world, ages 10 to 25, and was published in the journal Nature Mental Health.

Using machine learning (ML), a kind of artificial intelligence that allows computers to learn and grow from data analysis without the need for explicit programming, the researchers examined the sizes of deep brain areas as well as the thickness and surface area of the cortical layer.

According to them, further brain data, such as connections and function, must be added, and the algorithms must be further improved, in order to produce better outcomes.

The researchers noted that given the wide range of ethnicities, geographic locations, and clinical features in this young population, the preliminary findings “tend to hold” or “are generalizable.”

According to them, this makes the study’s findings rather interesting.

AI has the potential to identify those who suffer from anxiety problems. Lead researcher Moji Aghajani, an assistant professor at Leiden University in the Netherlands, believes that in the long run, the study may make it easier to adopt a more individualized strategy for care, diagnosis, and prevention.

Typically, anxiety problems start to manifest in adolescence and the early stages of adulthood. Millions of children worldwide suffer greatly from the emotional, social, and financial consequences of these diseases.

The researchers noted that it is unknown which brain functions are connected to these anxiety disorders.

“This incomplete understanding of underlying brain bases is largely due to our simplistic approach to mental disorders among youths, in which clinical studies are often too small in size, with way too much focus on the ‘average patient’ rather than the individual,” Aghajani added.

“This, moreover, concurs with use of traditional analytical techniques, which are unable to produce individual-level outcomes,” the investigator stated.

But as huge data—also known as “big data”—and artificial intelligence (AI) are used more and more, the field is gradually shifting to focus more on individuals and their distinct brain features.

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