In the current study on dysarthric speech, we investigate the effect of web-based treatment, and whether there is a difference between content and function words. Since the goal of the treatment is to speak louder, without raising pitch, we focus on acoustic-phonetic features related to loudness, intensity, and pitch. We analyse dysarthric read speech from eight speakers at word level. We also investigate whether there are differences between content words and function words, and whether the treatment has a different impact on these two classes of words. Linear Mixed-Effects models show that there are differences before and after treatment, that for some speakers the treatment has the desired effect, but not for all speakers, and that the effect of the treatment on words for the two categories does not seem to be different. To a large extent, our results are in line with the results of a previous study in which the same data were analyzed in a different way, i.e. by studying intelligibility scores.
Training classification models on clinical speech is a time-saving and effective solution for many healthcare challenges, such as screening for Alzheimer’s Disease over the phone. One of the primary limiting factors of the success of artificial intelligence (AI) solutions is the amount of relevant data available. Clinical data is expensive to collect, not sufficient for large-scale machine learning or neural methods, and often not shareable between institutions due to data protection laws. With the increasing demand for AI in health systems, generating synthetic clinical data that maintains the nuance of underlying patient pathology is the next pressing task. Previous work has shown that automated evaluation of clinical speech tasks via automatic speech recognition (ASR) is comparable to manually annotated results in diagnostic scenarios even though ASR systems produce errors during the transcription process. In this work, we propose to generate synthetic clinical data by simulating ASR deletion errors on the transcript to produce additional data. We compare the synthetic data to the real data with traditional machine learning methods to test the feasibility of the proposed method. Using a dataset of 50 cognitively impaired and 50 control Dutch speakers, ten additional data points are synthetically generated for each subject, increasing the training size for 100 to 1000 training points. We find consistent and comparable performance of models trained on only synthetic data (AUC=0.77) to real data (AUC=0.77) in a variety of traditional machine learning scenarios. Additionally, linear models are not able to distinguish between real and synthetic data.
New candidate diagnostics for cognitive decline and dementia have recently been proposed based on effects such as primacy and recency in word learning memory list tests. The diagnostic value is, however, currently limited by the multiple ways in which raw scores, and in particular these serial position effects (SPE), have been defined and analyzed to date. In this work, we build on previous analyses taking a metrological approach to the 10-item word learning list. We show i) how the variation in task difficulty reduces successively for trials 2 and 3, ii) how SPE change with repeated trials as predicted with our entropy-based theory, and iii) how possibilities to separate cohort members according to cognitive health status are limited. These findings mainly depend on the test design itself: A test with only 10 words, where SPE do not dominate over trials, requires more challenging words to increase the variation in task difficulty, and in turn to challenge the test persons. The work is novel and also contributes to the endeavour to develop for more consistent ways of defining and analyzing memory task difficulty, and in turn opens up for more practical and accurate measurement in clinical practice, research and trials.
Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) are a group of complex developmental conditions whose effects and severity show high intraindividual variability. However, one of the main symptoms shared along the spectrum is social interaction impairments that can be explored through acoustic analysis of speech production. In this paper, we compare 14 Italian-speaking children with ASD and 14 typically developing peers. Accordingly, we extracted and selected the acoustic features related to prosody, quality of voice, loudness, and spectral distribution using the parameter set eGeMAPS provided by the openSMILE feature extraction toolkit. We implemented four supervised machine learning methods to evaluate the extraction performances. Our findings show that Decision Trees (DTs) and Support Vector Machines (SVMs) are the best-performing methods. The overall DT models reach a 100% recall on all the trials, meaning they correctly recognise autistic features. However, half of its models overfit, while SVMs are more consistent. One of the results of the work is the creation of a speech pipeline to extract Italian speech biomarkers typical of ASD by comparing our results with studies based on other languages. A better understanding of this topic can support clinicians in diagnosing the disorder.
The corona pandemic and countermeasures such as social distancing and lockdowns have confronted individuals with new challenges for their mental health and well-being. It can be assumed that the Jungian psychology types of extraverts and introverts react differently to these challenges. We propose a Bi-LSTM model with an attention mechanism for classifying introversion and extraversion from German tweets, which is trained on hand-labeled data created by 335 participants. With this work, we provide this novel dataset for free use and validation. The proposed model achieves solid performance with F1 = .72. Furthermore, we created a feature engineered logistic model tree (LMT) trained on hand-labeled tweets, to which the data is also made available with this work. With this second model, German tweets before and during the pandemic have been investigated. Extraverts display more positive emotions, whilst introverts show more insight and higher rates of anxiety. Even though such a model can not replace proper psychological diagnostics, it can help shed light on linguistic markers and to help understand introversion and extraversion better for a variety of applications and investigations.
We present the outcome of the Post-Stroke Speech Transcription (PSST) challenge. For the challenge, we prepared a new data resource of responses to two confrontation naming tests found in AphasiaBank, extracting audio and adding new phonemic transcripts for each response. The challenge consisted of two tasks. Task A asked challengers to build an automatic speech recognizer (ASR) for phonemic transcription of the PSST samples, evaluated in terms of phoneme error rate (PER) as well as a finer-grained metric derived from phonological feature theory, feature error rate (FER). The best model had a 9.9% FER / 20.0% PER, improving on our baseline by a relative 18% and 24%, respectively. Task B approximated a downstream assessment task, asking challengers to identify whether each recording contained a correctly pronounced target word. Challengers were unable to improve on the baseline algorithm; however, using this algorithm with the improved transcripts from Task A resulted in 92.8% accuracy / 0.921 F1, a relative improvement of 2.8% and 3.3%, respectively.
Aphasia is a language disorder that affects millions of adults worldwide annually; it is most commonly caused by strokes or neurodegenerative diseases. Anomia, or word finding difficulty, is a prominent symptom of aphasia, which is often diagnosed through confrontation naming tasks. In the clinical setting, identification of correctness in responses to these naming tasks is useful for diagnosis, but currently is a labor-intensive process. This year’s Post-Stroke Speech Transcription Challenge provides an opportunity to explore ways of automating this process. In this work, we focus on Task B of the challenge, i.e. identification of response correctness. We study whether a simple aggregation of using the 1-best automatic speech recognition (ASR) output and acoustic features could help predict response correctness. This was motivated by the hypothesis that acoustic features could provide complementary information to the (imperfect) ASR transcripts. We trained several classifiers using various sets of acoustic features standard in speech processing literature in an attempt to improve over the 1-best ASR baseline. Results indicated that our approach to using the acoustic features did not beat the simple baseline, at least on this challenge dataset. This suggests that ASR robustness still plays a significant role in the correctness detection task, which has yet to benefit from acoustic features.
As part of the PSST challenge, we explore how data augmentations, data sources, and model size affect phoneme transcription accuracy on speech produced by individuals with aphasia. We evaluate model performance in terms of feature error rate (FER) and phoneme error rate (PER). We find that data augmentations techniques, such as pitch shift, improve model performance. Additionally, increasing the size of the model decreases FER and PER. Our experiments also show that adding manually-transcribed speech from non-aphasic speakers (TIMIT) improves performance when Room Impulse Response is used to augment the data. The best performing model combines aphasic and non-aphasic data and has a 21.0% PER and a 9.2% FER, a relative improvement of 9.8% compared to the baseline model on the primary outcome measurement. We show that data augmentation, larger model size, and additional non-aphasic data sources can be helpful in improving automatic phoneme recognition models for people with aphasia.
We employ the method of fine-tuning wav2vec2.0 for recognition of phonemes in aphasic speech. Our effort focuses on data augmentation, by supplementing data from both in-domain and out-of-domain datasets for training. We found that although a modest amount of out-of-domain data may be helpful, the performance of the model degrades significantly when the amount of out-of-domain data is much larger than in-domain data. Our hypothesis is that fine-tuning wav2vec2.0 with a CTC loss not only learns bottom-up acoustic properties but also top-down constraints. Therefore, out-of-domain data augmentation is likely to degrade performance if there is a language model mismatch between “in” and “out” domains. For in-domain audio without ground truth labels, we found that it is beneficial to exclude samples with less confident pseudo labels. Our final model achieves 16.7% PER (phoneme error rate) on the validation set, without using a language model for decoding. The result represents a relative error reduction of 14% over the baseline model trained without data augmentation. Finally, we found that “canonicalized” phonemes are much easier to recognize than manually transcribed phonemes.
Eating disorders (EDs) constitute a widespread group of mental illnesses affecting the everyday life of many individuals in all age groups. One of the main difficulties in the diagnosis and treatment of these disorders is the interpersonal variability of symptoms and the variety of underlying psychological states that are not considered in traditional approaches. In order to gain a better understanding of these disorders, many studies have collected data from social media and analysed them from a computational perspective, but the resulting dataset were very limited and task-specific. Aiming to address this shortage by providing a dataset that could be easily adapted to different tasks, we built a corpus collecting ED-related and ED-unrelated comments from Reddit focusing on a limited number of topics (fitness, nutrition, etc.). To validate the effectiveness of the dataset, we evaluated the performance of two classifiers in distinguishing between ED-related and unrelated comments. The high-level accuracy of both classifiers indicates that ED-related texts are separable from texts on similar topics that do not address EDs. For explorative purposes, we also carried out a linguistic analysis of word class dominance in ED-related texts, whose results are consistent with the findings of psychological research on EDs.
An assistive robot that could communicate with dementia patients would have great social benefit. An assistive robot Pepper has been designed to administer Referential Communication Tasks (RCTs) to human subjects without dementia as a step towards an agent to administer RCTs to dementia patients, potentially for earlier diagnosis. Currently, Pepper follows a rigid RCT script, which affects the user experience. We aim to replace Pepper’s RCT script with a dialogue management approach, to generate more natural interactions with RCT subjects. A Partially Observable Markov Decision Process (POMDP) dialogue policy will be trained using reinforcement learning, using simulated dialogue partners. This paper describes two RCT datasets and a methodology for their use in creating a database that the simulators can access for training the POMDP policies.
This paper aims to present a multi-level analysis of spoken language, which is carried out through Praat software for the analysis of speech in its prosodic aspects. The main object of analysis is the pathological speech of schizophrenic patients with a focus on pausing and its information structure. Spoken data (audio recordings in clinical settings; 4 case studies from CIPPS corpus) has been processed to create an implementable layer grid. The grid is an incremental annotation with layers dedicated to silent/sounding detection; orthographic transcription with the annotation of different vocal phenomena; Utterance segmentation; Information Units segmentation. The theoretical framework we are dealing with is the Language into Act Theory and its pragmatic and empirical studies on spontaneous spoken language. The core of the analysis is the study of pauses (signaled in the silent/sounding tier) starting from their automatic detection, then manually validated, and their classification based on duration and position inter/intra Turn and Utterance. In this respect, an interesting point arises: beyond the expected result of longer pauses in pathological schizophrenic than non-pathological, aside from the type of pause, analysis shows that pauses after Utterances are specific to pathological speech when >500 ms.