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In Cortex; a journal devoted to the study of the nervous system and behavior

Barriers to healthcare access are widespread in elderly populations, with a major consequence that older people are not benefiting from the latest technologies to diagnose disease. Recent advances in the automated analysis of speech show promising results in the identification of cognitive decline associated with Alzheimer's disease (AD), as well as its purported pre-clinical stage. We utilized automated methods to analyze speech recorded over the telephone in 91 community-dwelling older adults diagnosed with mild AD, amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI) or cognitively healthy. We asked whether natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning could more accurately identify groups than traditional screening tools and be sensitive to subtle differences in speech between the groups. Despite variable recording quality, NLP methods differentiated the three groups with greater accuracy than two traditional dementia screeners and a clinician who read transcripts of their speech. Imperfect speech data collected via a telephone is of sufficient quality to be examined with the latest speech technologies. Critically, these data reveal significant differences in speech that closely match the clinical diagnoses of AD, aMCI and healthy control.

Diaz-Asper Catherine, Chandler Chelsea, Turner Raymond S, Reynolds Brigid, Elvevåg Brita


“Alzheimers disease”, Cognitive screening, Machine learning, Mild cognitive impairment, Natural language processing