A team of South Korean researchers has developed a sensor that can diagnose depression with sweat that is released on the skin. It is planning to expand its research so that it can be used to diagnose panic disorder, autism, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
The Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute (ETRI) announced on Jan. 29 that a research team led by Dr. Kim Ah-young of the Biomedical IT Research Center has developed a sensor measuring 36.5 mm by 33 mm that can diagnose depression through skin conduction signals.
The study was jointly carried out by a team led by Professor Jeon Hong-jin at Samsung Medical Center.
When people suffering from depression are under stress, their sweat changes are minimal, unlike normal people. Ordinary people sweat a lot, but depression patients do not. Flowing sweat is directly related to skin conductivity, and the team studied this point.
The research team has started testing 60 people after obtaining approval from the Institutional Review Board (IRB). Through three months of observations, it successfully identified 30 patients with depression and 30 patients without the mental illness.
In addition to skin conduction, the researchers plan to analyze various biological signal data such as brain wave, heart beat, breathing, and temperature to diagnose not only depression but also other mental illnesses such as panic disorder, ADHD, trauma, and autism. In addition, they are going to make sensors smaller so that they can be applied to wearable devices that can be worn on the wrist.
"The study confirmed the possibility of developing a biometric signal-based mental illness diagnosis system that enables objective diagnosis of mental illnesses," said Kim Seung-hwan, head of Biomedical IT Research Center.
The results of this research project were published in Scientific Reports on Nov. 19, 2018.