M-Decline - How can we monitor cognitive decline of the elderly of the future

imec AAAA
Cognitive decline monitoring
Digital Phenotypting

How can we monitor cognitive decline of the elderly of the future?

Due to the gradual ageing of the population, the number of people with “mild cognitive impairment” (MCI) and Alzheimer dementia (AD) will drastically increase in the coming decades (Eurostat, 1999). Currently, the level of cognitive decline is primarily assessed in hospitals through cognitive paper-and-pencil tests (often followed by expensive neuroimaging scans). A monitoring system that makes it possible to unobtrusively asses elderly’s cognitive functioning over time could prompt an early intervention, potentially slowing the deterioration of the problem. Therefore, in order to reveal subtle effects of emerging cognitive decline, we propose an innovative method based on smartphone logging (using the in-house developed app “MobileDNA”). The elderly of the (near) future will have better digital skills and use their smartphone more frequently than they do now (Digimeter 2019). With the in-depth analysis of their user behavior on the smartphone, we could potentially identify typical mobile device usage patterns and unravel alarming changes over time (e.g., rapid switching between apps or pickups without actions). Complementary to standard cognitive tests (e.g. the MMSE) and sensor/wearable measurements (e.g., accelerometer and motion sensor), algorithms that are based on this “digital phenotype” can help in the early detection of MCI and AD.

We at imec-mict-UGent want to reveal critical tipping points in smartphone user behavior with regard to the progress of cognitive decline, in order to build predictive algorithms. In addition, our research want to identify possible pitfalls concerning the valorisation of this kind of monitoring technology.


Partners: Imec OnePlanet NL

Project Duration: 01/03/2020 - 01/03/2021


Contact: Klaas Bombeke