A Novel Explainability Approach for Technology-Driven Translational Research on Brain Aging

J Alzheimers Dis. 2022;88(4):1229-1239. doi: 10.3233/JAD-220441.


Brain aging leads to difficulties in functional independence. Mitigating these difficulties can benefit from technology that predicts, monitors, and modifies brain aging. Translational research prioritizes solutions that can be causally linked to specific pathophysiologies at the same time as demonstrating improvements in impactful real-world outcome measures. This poses a challenge for brain aging technology that needs to address the tension between mechanism-driven precision and clinical relevance. In the current opinion, by synthesizing emerging mechanistic, translational, and clinical research-related frameworks, and our own development of technology-driven brain aging research, we suggest incorporating the appreciation of four desiderata (causality, informativeness, transferability, and fairness) of explainability into early-stage research that designs and tests brain aging technology. We apply a series of work on electrocardiography-based "peripheral" neuroplasticity markers from our work as an illustration of our proposed approach. We believe this novel approach will promote the development and adoption of brain aging technology that links and addresses brain pathophysiology and functional independence in the field of translational research.

Keywords: Artificial intelligence; brain aging; explainability; technology; translational research.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aging
  • Brain
  • Brain Diseases*
  • Humans
  • Technology
  • Translational Research, Biomedical*