The Loh Down On Science

Prescription Surfing

Is channel surfing a medical tool?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Computer scientists at the University of Southern California seem to think so. They're leveraging the natural American penchant for couch potatohood to detect neurological disorders. How? By tracking eye movements while patients watch TV.

See, certain disorders like ADHD and Parkinson's disease affect eye-movement control.
What’s more, our natural eye movements are like fingerprints: No two people's are quite the same.

So, while patients with and without neurological disorders watched TV for 20 minutes, cameras tracked their eye movements.

From that and other data, the scientists created an algorithm that identified eye-movement features unique to each disorder.

In tests, the algorithm correctly identified Parkinson's with almost ninety percent accuracy. ADHD? Almost 80 percent accuracy.

The researchers say this method could become an inexpensive, fast screening tool for these and other diseases.

And an excuse to watch ever more episodes of "Cake Boss."  Shhh, I’m getting tested….

<em>The Loh Down on Science</em> is produced by LDOS Media Lab, with 89.3 KPCC Pasadena, California. And made possible by the generous support of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.


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