Turkish University’s AI Breakthrough: Revolutionizing Mental Health with Depression Detection and Beyond



In a groundbreaking development in the field of artificial intelligence (AI), researchers from Bilkent University in Ankara, Turkey, have collaborated with psychiatrists to pioneer an AI-based technology capable of depression detection and performing personality analysis.

Led by Hamdi Dibeklioğlu, an assistant professor at the Department of Computer Engineering at Bilkent University, the project utilizes affective computing to analyze human behavior through machine learning techniques, extracting patterns from various data points such as voice, speech content, facial expressions, and body language.

Affective computing, the interdisciplinary study of understanding and responding to human emotions, has gained increased interest with the widespread use of AI models like ChatGPT.

The team at Bilkent University has taken significant strides in developing algorithms that can gauge the severity of depression by processing and analyzing data in real-time during interviews.

Dibeklioğlu explained that, similar to clinical psychologists and psychiatrists who diagnose based on observations, their AI system aims to determine depression levels by scrutinizing diverse data sets.

These include facial expressions, tone of voice, speech patterns, and body language. Importantly, the AI system operates in tandem with an expert who conducts the interview, sharing real-time data for a more comprehensive analysis.

Depression Detection By AI

The research, which Dibeklioğlu initiated during his tenure in the Netherlands and continued upon his return to Turkey, adheres to strict ethical standards. The project has obtained approvals from both patients and hospitals at each stage, emphasizing the importance of data privacy and consent.

Dibeklioğlu reassured that the system operates only with explicit permission, employing rigorous protocols to safeguard confidential and sensitive data.

The AI system focuses on unraveling the intricate relationship between behavior and depression levels. By capturing patterns indicative of avoiding social interaction, the system can make diagnoses that might be overlooked through traditional methods.

Dibeklioğlu emphasized the significance of AI in detecting behaviors associated with depression that align with existing clinical theories.

Apart from depression detection, the team at Bilkent University has also embarked on a separate project focused on lie detection. This project uses various data points, including sentences, vocal tone, and visual cues, to determine the extent of deception. Dibeklioğlu clarified that while achieving 100% precision in lie detection is unfeasible, the AI system has achieved notably high success rates.

However, he emphasized the limitations of applying the lie-detection system directly in legal proceedings due to inherent error rates.

Additionally, the research team has delved into personality detection across multiple dimensions, such as openness to the external world and innovation. By gathering data through visual and auditory elements and interpreting them during interactions, the team aims to impart this ability to machines.

Dibeklioğlu stressed the importance of caution in the realm of human behavior, emphasizing that absolute precision in this field may lead to significant issues if individuals are held accountable for mistakes.

In another application, the researchers at Bilkent University have utilized a comparable system for pain level detection, crucial in determining medication dosages. Dibeklioğlu highlighted the potential significance of this detection, particularly in treating children and infants, where directly asking about pain levels might be challenging. Instead, the AI system relies on interpreting facial expressions and behavior to gauge the degree of pain experienced by the patient.

As the team continues to push the boundaries of AI applications in behavioral analysis, the ethical considerations and cautious approach underscore the commitment to responsible and meaningful integration of AI in the field of mental health and human behavior.

The developments from Bilkent University represent a significant leap forward in leveraging AI to complement and enhance the capabilities of mental health professionals while maintaining the utmost respect for privacy and ethical standards.

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