Skip to Content
77 Mass Ave

Typing Test

Keystroke data could lead to earlier Parkinson’s diagnoses.
June 23, 2015

Analyzing people’s keystrokes as they type on a computer can reveal a great deal of information about the state of their motor function, according to a new study from MIT.

Researchers from the Madrid-MIT M+Vision Consortium analyzed keystrokes with an algorithm that captures timing information such as “key hold time”—a measure of how long a key is pressed before being released. By studying these patterns, they were able to distinguish between typing done in the middle of the night, when sleep deprivation impairs motor skills, and typing performed when fully rested.

While that study focused on the effects of fatigue, it also represents a first step toward using keystroke patterns to diagnose conditions that impair motor function, such as Parkinson’s disease, the researchers say.

Preliminary results from a study of about two dozen Parkinson’s patients suggest that the patterns the algorithm detects can distinguish people who have the disease from those who don’t. If the findings are validated in larger studies, the researchers believe, this approach could lead to much earlier diagnosis for Parkinson’s and aid in the development of better treatments.

“People are usually diagnosed five to 10 years after the beginning of the disease, and lot of the damage has already been done,” says Luca Giancardo, the paper’s first author and an M+Vision Fellow.

A white paper on this research won the 2015 Singapore Challenge, an international science competition focused this year on the topic of aging in place. The team is now running a crowdsourced study to characterize the normal typing signal in the general population. Participate at https://www.neuroqwerty.com.

Keep Reading

Most Popular

Rendering of Waterfront Toronto project
Rendering of Waterfront Toronto project

Toronto wants to kill the smart city forever

The city wants to get right what Sidewalk Labs got so wrong.

Muhammad bin Salman funds anti-aging research
Muhammad bin Salman funds anti-aging research

Saudi Arabia plans to spend $1 billion a year discovering treatments to slow aging

The oil kingdom fears that its population is aging at an accelerated rate and hopes to test drugs to reverse the problem. First up might be the diabetes drug metformin.

Yann LeCun
Yann LeCun

Yann LeCun has a bold new vision for the future of AI

One of the godfathers of deep learning pulls together old ideas to sketch out a fresh path for AI, but raises as many questions as he answers.

images created by Google Imagen
images created by Google Imagen

The dark secret behind those cute AI-generated animal images

Google Brain has revealed its own image-making AI, called Imagen. But don't expect to see anything that isn't wholesome.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.