Biogen and Apple are set to begin a new virtual research study to develop digital biomarkers of cognitive health using Apple Watch and iPhone.

The study will examine the Apple Watch and iPhone’s role in cognitive performance monitoring and screening for decline in cognitive health, including mild cognitive impairment (MCI).

To be launched later this year, the multi-year, observational research study will enrol young and ageing adult subjects.

The ability to think clearly, learn, and remember is known as cognitive health. It is a brain health indicator and is essential to carry out day to daily activities.

Developing digital biomarkers for monitoring long-term cognitive performance and detecting early signs of MCI will form the primary objectives of the study.

While cognitive health is being recognised as a major factor of overall health, approximately 15%-20% of adults aged over 65 years are impacted by MCI.

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Biogen CEO Michel Vounatsos said: “Cognitive decline can be an early symptom of neurodegenerative diseases and dementia.

“The successful development of digital biomarkers in brain health would help address the significant need to accelerate patient diagnoses and empower physicians and individuals to take timely action.”

The study will maintain customer privacy, control, and transparency.

Subjects can end participation at any time and collected data will be encrypted for storage in systems with strong security controls for protecting the data.

Apple chief operating officer Jeff Williams said: “Working in collaboration with Biogen, we hope this study can help the medical community better understand a person’s cognitive performance by simply having them engage with their Apple Watch and iPhone.

“We’re looking forward to learning about the impact our technology can have in delivering better health outcomes through improved detection of declining cognitive health.”