18 April 2014
Posted in Dr. Ying Competition
Nikhil Patel is a ninth grade student at Oviedo High School in Seminole County and is a member of the Beta Club and Mu Alpha Theta. A science researcher since sixth grade, Nikhil is now a dual enrollment student at Seminole State College while also conducting research at the Synthetic Reality Lab at the University of Central Florida.
Nikhil was selected as one of the top 30 middle school science researchers in the country and competed in the Broadcom Masters competition in Washington, D.C. Nikhil is also a competitive fencer with the Stocatta Fencing Academy in Longwood, Fla.
Nikhil’s research project for the Ying Competition focuses on how to identify early indicators of cognitive impairment, for instance, the ability to predict the likelihood a person is going to develop Alzheimer’s. His research has earned him first place at the Florida State Science and Engineering Fair.
Studies have shown that brain exercises can significantly delay the onset of cognitive decline if it is caught early. However, there is no inexpensive, non-intrusive and simple test to accomplish that. Nikhil’s study looks at developing a simple software test that can be administered in a primary care setting at a cost of $25 or less to start measuring changes in an individual’s cognitive performance.
His current research shows that it is possible to identify with about 85-90 percent accuracy the likelihood a subject has early stage cognitive impairment based on taking a simple five-minute test. The research will be extended to measure cognitive impairment due to post-traumatic stress disorder, head injuries and other temporary situations such as alcohol- and medication-based impairment.