Black Girl Magic: LSU Asst. Professor Uses Technology to Predict Alzheimer’s Disease


rsz_lavonda_brown_nbAn assistant professor in the Division of Electrical and Computer Engineering,  LaVonda Brown, is said to have discovered a way to predict Alzheimer’s Disease through technology.

Brown  came to LSU earlier this year, but through her work for the Emory Health Aging Study (EHAS) she has explored the visual paired comparison (VPC) task, which is a recognition memory test that has shown promise for the detection of memory impairments associated with mild cognitive impairment (MCI)

“Because patients with MCI often progress to Alzheimer’s Disease (AD), the VPC may be useful in predicting the onset of AD,” Brown said. “VPC uses noninvasive eye tracking to identify how subjects view novel and repeated visual stimuli,” Brown says according to a LSU News.

Alzheimer’s disease is an irreversible, progressive brain disorder that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills, and eventually the ability to carry out the simplest tasks. Alzheimer Association says, African American are two times more likely to develop the disease. Before now Alzheimer was usually diagnosed by the following:

  • A thorough medical history
  • Mental status and mood testing
  • A physical and neurological exam
  • Tests (such as blood tests and brain imaging) to rule out other causes of dementia-like symptoms

Now at LSU she is working with a team of scientists “to develop low cost, easily accessible hardware and software that monitors the eye gaze of patients while viewing image sets, and is leading the development of eye gaze tracking using the built-in camera on various mobile devices.”

Brown says, “During my first five years here, I plan to build a successful research lab that is centered on Healthcare Robotics and Instrumentation.”

Brown also plans to use her robotic platform to assist with other motor skill disorders like Cerebral Palsy.



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