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IBM and University of Melbourne research in AI pushes frontiers in epileptic seizure prediction

By Peter Binks, BHERT


IBM and University of Melbourne research in AI pushes frontiers in epileptic seizure prediction

Researchers from IBM and the University of Melbourne have developed a proof-of-concept seizure forecasting system that predicted an average of 69 percent of seizures across 10 epilepsy patients. The system, which the scientists claim is "fully automated, patient-specific, and tunable to an individual's needs", uses a combination of deep-learning algorithms and a low-power "brain-inspired" computing chip to predict when seizures might occur, even if patients have no previous prediction indicators.

In a survey by the American Epilepsy Society, patients selected unpredictability of seizures as a top issue, with many writing about the fear of not knowing when and what will cause a seizure. Of the 65 million people worldwide living with epilepsy, one third have uncontrollable seizures and do not respond to available treatment. These numbers have not reduced in decades, even with more than 14 new treatments since 1990, making epilepsy prediction technology an important area of research which could potentially improve the lives of many patients. In Australia, 250,000 people have been diagnosed with epilepsy, with 3 percent to 3.5 percent of the population expected to experience the condition at some point in their lives.

The University of Melbourne and IBM have worked together for more than a decade on the application of computing technologies to medicine and biosciences. Earlier this year, the University announced its partnership with IBM Research to launch a new Training Centre in Cognitive Computing for Medical Technologies, supported by $4.1m in funding from the Australian Research Council. The Centre will train PhD and Postdoctoral researchers to lead innovation in the application of machine learning to data intensive medical contexts. The epilepsy analysis is the latest outcome of the partnership.

The University of Melbourne

Established in 1853, the University of Melbourne is a public-spirited institution that makes distinctive contributions to society in research, learning and teaching and engagement. It’s consistently ranked among the leading universities in the world, with international rankings of world universities placing it as number 1 in Australia and number 32 in the world (Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2017-2018).

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