Missouri State University
Missouri State
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Dr. S. Brahnam
Photo by Bob Linder

Dr. S. Brahnam

Professor of computer information systems

Her research

Brahnam is at the forefront of some technological developments.

For example, one of her many research projects is developing a way to classify pain in infants by using a machine-learning algorithm.

Machine learning is a type of artificial intelligence that provides computers with the ability to learn.

To create her Infant Classification of Pain Expressions, or ICOPE, infants at Mercy hospital in Springfield were photographed while they were experiencing both unpainful stressors and a painful stimulus (the heel lance needed for a Missouri-mandated blood exam).

It turns out, infants crying due to pain may look different than infants crying without pain.

What’s next

She’s preparing to look deeper with the use of video equipment that will not only see the infant’s facial expressions, but will measure heart rate, respiration rate or even changes in pixel colors.

She hopes this data enhances the ability to classify pain expressions.

Why this research is far-reaching

The ICOPE may be a first step in teaching computers to see people in the same way that human beings see people, and note the social meanings of a person’s physical appearance.

This system means medical professionals may be able to identify pain in infants, even if the professionals are busy, blind, face-blind or cannot see the baby’s expression.