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EARLY BIRD

If dementia can’t be prevented, can it at least be detected early?

REUTERS/Jon Nazca
It’s a rare bird that can detect dementia before it starts taking its toll.
  • Katherine Ellen Foley
By Katherine Ellen Foley

Health and science reporter

Most people check their phones throughout the day—when they wake up, at lunch, at an afternoon coffee, before bed. Just a glance, nothing more than five or 10 minutes of online tinkering or playing a game. It’s a habit so ubiquitous, we do it without thinking.

Which makes it the perfect time to get a snapshot of your brain’s health.

That’s the goal of the Mobile Toolbox project, a research initiative being carried out by teams at Penn State University and Northwestern University. With the help of the Seattle-based nonprofit Sage Bionetworks and the US National Institutes of Health, they’re searching for ways to measure populations’ cognitive health in the least invasive way possible—by capitalizing on the time you’re already spending on your phone.

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