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Acta Otolaryngol Suppl. 1997;529:127-9.

Neural networks in neurotologic expert systems.

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  • 1Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Helsinki University Hospital, Finland.


Artificial intelligence donates new possibilities to neurotologic research. Neural networks are a computer-based reasoning method which can be applied in expert systems created for clinical decision support. Neural networks have been used in medical imaging, in medical signal processing and to analyze both clinical and laboratory data. Principally, neural networks simulate the function of the brain. They have to be taught to make correct decisions from the input data. This learning process can be either supervised or unsupervised. The decision making is based on mathematical transformations and it occurs on a hidden level. Calculations are made on parallel manner and the decision making simulates pattern recognition method. Neural networks suit well in medical problems which cannot be defined in simple rules. A drawback of neural networks is that the decisions are irrational and cannot be motivated to the user. Another problem is neural networks' difficulty to handle incomplete input data, i.e., how to define some default or expected values for unknown input parameters. In a complex medical area, which would require multilayered neural networks, the neural networks require a large amount of solved cases for the learning process. In our experience neural networks seem not suitable for diagnosing vertigo and a better choice would be either case-based reasoning or possibly genetic algorithms or a combination of these.

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