Trevor Cohen

University of Washington

Other people with similar names: Trevor Cohn (University of Melbourne)


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Improving Classification of Infrequent Cognitive Distortions: Domain-Specific Model vs. Data Augmentation
Xiruo Ding | Kevin Lybarger | Justin Tauscher | Trevor Cohen
Proceedings of the 2022 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies: Student Research Workshop

Cognitive distortions are counterproductive patterns of thinking that are one of the targets of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). These can be challenging for clinicians to detect, especially those without extensive CBT training or supervision. Text classification methods can approximate expert clinician judgment in the detection of frequently occurring cognitive distortions in text-based therapy messages. However, performance with infrequent distortions is relatively poor. In this study, we address this sparsity problem with two approaches: Data Augmentation and Domain-Specific Model. The first approach includes Easy Data Augmentation, back translation, and mixup techniques. The second approach utilizes a domain-specific pretrained language model, MentalBERT. To examine the viability of different data augmentation methods, we utilized a real-world dataset of texts between therapists and clients diagnosed with serious mental illness that was annotated for distorted thinking. We found that with optimized parameter settings, mixup was helpful for rare classes. Performance improvements with an augmented model, MentalBERT, exceed those obtained with data augmentation.

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Comparing emotion feature extraction approaches for predicting depression and anxiety
Hannah Burkhardt | Michael Pullmann | Thomas Hull | Patricia Areán | Trevor Cohen
Proceedings of the Eighth Workshop on Computational Linguistics and Clinical Psychology

The increasing adoption of message-based behavioral therapy enables new approaches to assessing mental health using linguistic analysis of patient-generated text. Word counting approaches have demonstrated utility for linguistic feature extraction, but deep learning methods hold additional promise given recent advances in this area. We evaluated the utility of emotion features extracted using a BERT-based model in comparison to emotions extracted using word counts as predictors of symptom severity in a large set of messages from text-based therapy sessions involving over 6,500 unique patients, accompanied by data from repeatedly administered symptom scale measurements. BERT-based emotion features explained more variance in regression models of symptom severity, and improved predictive modeling of scale-derived diagnostic categories. However, LIWC categories that are not directly related to emotions provided valuable and complementary information for modeling of symptom severity, indicating a role for both approaches in inferring the mental states underlying patient-generated language.

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Identifying Distorted Thinking in Patient-Therapist Text Message Exchanges by Leveraging Dynamic Multi-Turn Context
Kevin Lybarger | Justin Tauscher | Xiruo Ding | Dror Ben-zeev | Trevor Cohen
Proceedings of the Eighth Workshop on Computational Linguistics and Clinical Psychology

There is growing evidence that mobile text message exchanges between patients and therapists can augment traditional cognitive behavioral therapy. The automatic characterization of patient thinking patterns in this asynchronous text communication may guide treatment and assist in therapist training. In this work, we automatically identify distorted thinking in text-based patient-therapist exchanges, investigating the role of conversation history (context) in distortion prediction. We identify six unique types of cognitive distortions and utilize BERT-based architectures to represent text messages within the context of the conversation. We propose two approaches for leveraging dynamic conversation context in model training. By representing the text messages within the context of the broader patient-therapist conversation, the models better emulate the therapist’s task of recognizing distorted thoughts. This multi-turn classification approach also leverages the clustering of distorted thinking in the conversation timeline. We demonstrate that including conversation context, including the proposed dynamic context methods, improves distortion prediction performance. The proposed architectures and conversation encoding approaches achieve performance comparable to inter-rater agreement. The presence of any distorted thinking is identified with relatively high performance at 0.73 F1, significantly outperforming the best context-agnostic models (0.68 F1).

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GPT-D: Inducing Dementia-related Linguistic Anomalies by Deliberate Degradation of Artificial Neural Language Models
Changye Li | David Knopman | Weizhe Xu | Trevor Cohen | Serguei Pakhomov
Proceedings of the 60th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

Deep learning (DL) techniques involving fine-tuning large numbers of model parameters have delivered impressive performance on the task of discriminating between language produced by cognitively healthy individuals, and those with Alzheimer’s disease (AD). However, questions remain about their ability to generalize beyond the small reference sets that are publicly available for research. As an alternative to fitting model parameters directly, we propose a novel method by which a Transformer DL model (GPT-2) pre-trained on general English text is paired with an artificially degraded version of itself (GPT-D), to compute the ratio between these two models’ perplexities on language from cognitively healthy and impaired individuals. This technique approaches state-of-the-art performance on text data from a widely used “Cookie Theft” picture description task, and unlike established alternatives also generalizes well to spontaneous conversations. Furthermore, GPT-D generates text with characteristics known to be associated with AD, demonstrating the induction of dementia-related linguistic anomalies. Our study is a step toward better understanding of the relationships between the inner workings of generative neural language models, the language that they produce, and the deleterious effects of dementia on human speech and language characteristics.


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Should Semantic Vector Composition be Explicit? Can it be Linear?
Dominic Widdows | Kristen Howell | Trevor Cohen
Proceedings of the 2021 Workshop on Semantic Spaces at the Intersection of NLP, Physics, and Cognitive Science (SemSpace)

Vector representations have become a central element in semantic language modelling, leading to mathematical overlaps with many fields including quantum theory. Compositionality is a core goal for such representations: given representations for ‘wet’ and ‘fish’, how should the concept ‘wet fish’ be represented? This position paper surveys this question from two points of view. The first considers the question of whether an explicit mathematical representation can be successful using only tools from within linear algebra, or whether other mathematical tools are needed. The second considers whether semantic vector composition should be explicitly described mathematically, or whether it can be a model-internal side-effect of training a neural network. A third and newer question is whether a compositional model can be implemented on a quantum computer. Given the fundamentally linear nature of quantum mechanics, we propose that these questions are related, and that this survey may help to highlight candidate operations for future quantum implementation.


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A Tale of Two Perplexities: Sensitivity of Neural Language Models to Lexical Retrieval Deficits in Dementia of the Alzheimer’s Type
Trevor Cohen | Serguei Pakhomov
Proceedings of the 58th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

In recent years there has been a burgeoning interest in the use of computational methods to distinguish between elicited speech samples produced by patients with dementia, and those from healthy controls. The difference between perplexity estimates from two neural language models (LMs) - one trained on transcripts of speech produced by healthy participants and one trained on those with dementia - as a single feature for diagnostic classification of unseen transcripts has been shown to produce state-of-the-art performance. However, little is known about why this approach is effective, and on account of the lack of case/control matching in the most widely-used evaluation set of transcripts (DementiaBank), it is unclear if these approaches are truly diagnostic, or are sensitive to other variables. In this paper, we interrogate neural LMs trained on participants with and without dementia by using synthetic narratives previously developed to simulate progressive semantic dementia by manipulating lexical frequency. We find that perplexity of neural LMs is strongly and differentially associated with lexical frequency, and that using a mixture model resulting from interpolating control and dementia LMs improves upon the current state-of-the-art for models trained on transcript text exclusively.

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Improving Biomedical Analogical Retrieval with Embedding of Structural Dependencies
Amandalynne Paullada | Bethany Percha | Trevor Cohen
Proceedings of the 19th SIGBioMed Workshop on Biomedical Language Processing

Inferring the nature of the relationships between biomedical entities from text is an important problem due to the difficulty of maintaining human-curated knowledge bases in rapidly evolving fields. Neural word embeddings have earned attention for an apparent ability to encode relational information. However, word embedding models that disregard syntax during training are limited in their ability to encode the structural relationships fundamental to cognitive theories of analogy. In this paper, we demonstrate the utility of encoding dependency structure in word embeddings in a model we call Embedding of Structural Dependencies (ESD) as a way to represent biomedical relationships in two analogical retrieval tasks: a relationship retrieval (RR) task, and a literature-based discovery (LBD) task meant to hypothesize plausible relationships between pairs of entities unseen in training. We compare our model to skip-gram with negative sampling (SGNS), using 19 databases of biomedical relationships as our evaluation data, with improvements in performance on 17 (LBD) and 18 (RR) of these sets. These results suggest embeddings encoding dependency path information are of value for biomedical analogy retrieval.


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Bringing Order to Neural Word Embeddings with Embeddings Augmented by Random Permutations (EARP)
Trevor Cohen | Dominic Widdows
Proceedings of the 22nd Conference on Computational Natural Language Learning

Word order is clearly a vital part of human language, but it has been used comparatively lightly in distributional vector models. This paper presents a new method for incorporating word order information into word vector embedding models by combining the benefits of permutation-based order encoding with the more recent method of skip-gram with negative sampling. The new method introduced here is called Embeddings Augmented by Random Permutations (EARP). It operates by applying permutations to the coordinates of context vector representations during the process of training. Results show an 8% improvement in accuracy on the challenging Bigger Analogy Test Set, and smaller but consistent improvements on other analogy reference sets. These findings demonstrate the importance of order-based information in analogical retrieval tasks, and the utility of random permutations as a means to augment neural embeddings.


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Retrofitting Word Vectors of MeSH Terms to Improve Semantic Similarity Measures
Zhiguo Yu | Trevor Cohen | Byron Wallace | Elmer Bernstam | Todd Johnson
Proceedings of the Seventh International Workshop on Health Text Mining and Information Analysis


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Evaluating the Use of Empirically Constructed Lexical Resources for Named Entity Recognition
Siddhartha Jonnalagadda | Trevor Cohen | Stephen Wu | Hongfang Liu | Graciela Gonzalez
Proceedings of the IWCS 2013 Workshop on Computational Semantics in Clinical Text (CSCT 2013)