Artificial Intelligence

A specially designed computer program can help diagnose post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in veterans by analyzing their voices, a new study finds. Published online April 22 in the journal Depression and Anxiety, the study find that an artificial intelligence tool can distinguish with 89% accuracy between the voices of those with or without PTSD.

“Their findings suggest that speech-based characteristics can be use to diagnose this disease; also with further refinement and validation, may be employed in the clinic in the near future; so says senior study author Charles R. Marmar, MD, the Lucius N. Littauer Professor and chair of the Department of Psychiatry at NYU School of Medicine.

Adults worldwide experience

More than 70% of adults worldwide experience a traumatic event at some point in their lives; so with up to 12% of people in some struggling countries suffering from PTSD. Those with the condition experience strong; hence persistent distress when reminded of a triggering event.

The study authors say that a PTSD diagnosis is most often determine by clinical interview or a self-report assessment; so both inherently prone to biases. This has led to efforts to develop objective, measurable; so physical markers of PTSD progression, much like laboratory values for medical conditions, but progress has slow.

In the current study, the research team used a statistical/machine learning technique, called random forests; so that has the ability to “learn” how to classify individuals base on examples. Such AI programs build “decision” rules and mathematical models that enable decision-making with increasing accuracy as the amount of training data grows.

Long diagnostic interviews

The researchers first record standard; so hours-long diagnostic interviews, called Clinician-Administer PTSD Scale, or CAPS, of 53 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans with military-service-relate PTSD; so as well as those of 78 veterans without the disease. The recordings were then fed into voice software from SRI International; so the institute that also invent Siri to yield a total of 40,526 speech-base features capture in short spurts of talk; which the team’s AI program sift through for patterns.

The random forest program link patterns of specific voice features with PTSD; so including less clear speech and a lifeless, metallic tone; so both of which had long report anecdotally as helpful in diagnosis. While the current study did not explore the disease mechanisms behind PTSD; hence the theory is that traumatic events change brain circuits that process emotion and muscle tone, which affects a person’s voice.

The speech analysis technology use in the current study on PTSD detection falls into the range of capabilities; so include in their speech analytics platform called SenSay Analytics™,” says Dimitra Vergyri, director of SRI International’s Speech Technology and Research (STAR) Laboratory.
The software analyzes words in combination with frequency, rhythm, tone, and articulatory; so characteristics of speech — to infer the state of the speaker, including emotion, sentiment, cognition, health, mental health and communication quality. The technology has been involve in a series of industry applications visible in startups like Oto, Ambit and Decoded Health.”