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In Schizophrenia research ; h5-index 61.0

Voice atypicalities have been a characteristic feature of schizophrenia since its first definitions. They are often associated with core negative symptoms such as flat affect and alogia, and with the social impairments seen in the disorder. This suggests that voice atypicalities may represent a marker of clinical features and social functioning in schizophrenia. We systematically reviewed and meta-analyzed the evidence for distinctive acoustic patterns in schizophrenia, as well as their relation to clinical features. We identified 46 articles, including 55 studies with a total of 1254 patients with schizophrenia and 699 healthy controls. Summary effect sizes (Hedges'g and Pearson's r) estimates were calculated using multilevel Bayesian modeling. We identified weak atypicalities in pitch variability (g = -0.55) related to flat affect, and stronger atypicalities in proportion of spoken time, speech rate, and pauses (g's between -0.75 and -1.89) related to alogia and flat affect. However, the effects were mostly modest (with the important exception of pause duration) compared to perceptual and clinical judgments, and characterized by large heterogeneity between studies. Moderator analyses revealed that tasks with a more demanding cognitive and social component showed larger effects both in contrasting patients and controls and in assessing symptomatology. In conclusion, studies of acoustic patterns are a promising but, yet unsystematic avenue for establishing markers of schizophrenia. We outline recommendations towards more cumulative, open, and theory-driven research.

Parola Alberto, Simonsen Arndis, Bliksted Vibeke, Fusaroli Riccardo


Acoustic analysis, Biomarker, Machine learning, Negative symptoms, Social communication, Speech signal