Hello,

We noticed you're browsing in private or incognito mode.

To continue reading this article, please exit incognito mode or log in.

Not an Insider? Subscribe now for unlimited access to online articles.

Typing Test

Keystroke data could lead to earlier Parkinson’s diagnoses.

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.

This story is part of the July/August 2015 Issue of the MIT News Magazine
See the rest of the issue
Subscribe

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.

Tech Obsessive?
Become an Insider to get the story behind the story — and before anyone else.

Subscribe today

Uh oh–you've read all of your free articles for this month.

Insider Premium
$179.95/yr US PRICE

Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe to Insider Plus.
  • Insider Plus {! insider.prices.plus !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Everything included in Insider Basic, plus the digital magazine, extensive archive, ad-free web experience, and discounts to partner offerings and MIT Technology Review events.

    See details+

    What's Included

    Unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website

    The Download: our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation

    Bimonthly print magazine (6 issues per year)

    Bimonthly digital/PDF edition

    Access to the magazine PDF archive—thousands of articles going back to 1899 at your fingertips

    Special interest publications

    Discount to MIT Technology Review events

    Special discounts to select partner offerings

    Ad-free web experience

/
You've read all of your free articles this month. This is your last free article this month. You've read of free articles this month. or  for unlimited online access.