Summer 2012

Video Screening for ADD

Most people would look at the thousands of bits of information that any media player retains and junk it. After all, what useful information could the "trash can" of the system tell anyone? Dr. Tal Hassner of the Department of Computer Sciences at the Open University, would tell you that there is a lot you can amass. So much so, that it has the potential to literally change how neurological screenings for ADD and other learning disorders can be accomplished.

For the past two years, Dr. Tal Hassner, Senior Faculty Member of the Open University's Department of Computer Sciences, has been doing statistical analyses on reams of data he has pulled from the University's tens of thousands of records on how students view online videos of courses. And, he has discovered that his team's analyses – "we're actually looking at old data in a new way" – provides a new way for objective, unobtrusive, accurate long-term screening for ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) and other learning disabilities.

A provisional patent has been filed and the research team, headed up by Dr. Hassner and including Dr. Anat Lerner,of the Computer Science Department of the Open University, Prof. Lior Wolf and Yael Leitner, psychologist at the Sorousky Medical Center in Tel Aviv continue their research.

The Open University – A Perfect Testing Ground

One of the key problems neurologists face is that in researching neurological problems they have few available means for collecting empirical or objective data outside the clinic on how patients go about their daily lives. What they do have are "interviews, standardized tests and performance markers, such as grades, medical records, days off from work. Ideally," Dr. Hassner explains, "what you need to provide objective data in a natural setting would be a neurologist or other professional sitting on your shoulder and unobtrusively collecting numerical data outside of the controlled laboratory situation."

What Dr. Hassner and his team believed was that individuals with various neurological issues watch videos differently than their counterparts.

The Open University turned out to be a perfect testing ground for the team's theory. As the leading institute in Israel in distance teaching, thousands of students log on to the University's website and watch a pre-recorded lesson which is streamed over from the University's Shoham Center. The server routinely reports on what the student is watching, for what period of time, how often and for how long was pause pressed, etc. This information is retained for lengthy periods of time.

Dr. Hassner's team looked at the viewing habits of some 9,000 individuals – a statistically significant large group. "Originally we took the group of 30,000 viewers, but narrowed it down to people who looked at more than 10 videos, so we eventually dropped down to 9,000 people."

The Results: Surprisingly Accurate

Prior to the outset, the team asked themselves a number of guiding questions:
  • Do people with ADD/ADHD require more time off from watching videos than others?
  • Do ADD/ADHD people press play more than others?
  • Do ADD/ADHD watch videos in a more fragmented fashion than others?
  • Do people with ADD/ADHD have different lesson viewing characteristics?
  • Do ADD viewers take breaks more often and stop and start more often?
The answers to these questions turned out to be yes, but more fascinating was the incredible accuracy of the test group and the fact that they were evaluated in completely natural, non-laboratory conditions.

"When we looked at who has ADD/ADHD (N.B. they had records on this from the outset) it came out to 480 people" Dr. Hassner explains, "which came to 5.3% which is the prevailing average in the general population (statistical ranges are 4-7%)."

Page: 1  2