• Press Release

Speech Analysis Software Predicted Psychosis in At-Risk Patients with up to 83 Percent Accuracy, Mount Sinai Researchers Find

Big-data approach has potential to improve prediction of psychiatric and other medical disorders

  • New York
  • (January 22, 2018)

Computer-based analyses of speech transcripts obtained from interviews with at-risk youths were able to predict which youths would later develop psychosis within two years, with an accuracy of up to 83 percent. In two independent cohorts of young people at risk for psychosis, a disturbance in the flow of meaning when speaking, otherwise known as being tangential or going off track, predicted who would later develop psychosis.

This same computer-based language classifier was able to predict psychosis onset in a second at-risk cohort with 79 percent accuracy, and could discriminate speech from individuals with psychosis from healthy individuals with an accuracy of 72 percent.

Taken together, the results from this study suggest that this technology has the potential to improve prediction of psychosis and other disorders.

The results of the study will be published online in World Psychiatry on January 22 at 10am EST.
Disorganized thinking, a symptom of psychosis, is regularly assessed using interview-based clinical ratings of speech. It is characterized by tangential language, looseness of associations, and reduced complexity of speech. While it can be severe enough to impair effective communication, language disturbance is more typically a subtle but persistent feature that can be present prior to the onset of psychosis in young people at risk.

This study examined transcripts from interviews with at-risk young people in two different cohorts—one in New York City with 34 participants and one in Los Angeles with 59 participants—for whom psychosis onset within the next two years was known. The transcripts were analyzed by computer using automated natural language processing methods to determine differences in speech between those who developed psychosis and those who did not.

"The results of this study are exciting because this technology has the potential to improve prediction of psychosis and ultimately help us prevent psychosis by helping researchers develop remediation and training strategies that target the cognitive deficits that may underlie language disturbance," said the study’s first author, Cheryl Corcoran, MD, Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Program Leader in Psychosis Risk, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

"More broadly, language and behavior are the primary sources of data for psychiatrists to diagnose and treat mental disorders," said Dr. Corcoran. "There are now novel computerized methods to characterize complex behaviors such as language. Speech is easy to collect and inexpensive to analyze using computer-based analysis. This technology could be applied across psychiatry, and plausibly in other fields of medicine."

Other institutions involved in the study include the IBM T.J. Watson Research Center; the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina; the University of California, Los Angeles; and the New York State Psychiatric Institute at Columbia University Medical Center.

This research was supported by grants from the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health (R01 MH 107558; R03 MH 108933, the New York State Office of Mental Health, and a NARSAD/BBRF Young Investigator Award and Miller Family Term Chair to C.E. Bearden.


About the Mount Sinai Health System

The Mount Sinai Health System is New York City's largest academic medical system, encompassing eight hospitals, a leading medical school, and a vast network of ambulatory practices throughout the greater New York region. Mount Sinai is a national and international source of unrivaled education, translational research and discovery, and collaborative clinical leadership ensuring that we deliver the highest quality care—from prevention to treatment of the most serious and complex human diseases. The Health System includes more than 7,200 physicians and features a robust and continually expanding network of multispecialty services, including more than 400 ambulatory practice locations throughout the five boroughs of New York City, Westchester, and Long Island. The Mount Sinai Hospital is ranked No. 14 on U.S. News & World Report's "Honor Roll" of the Top 20 Best Hospitals in the country and the Icahn School of Medicine as one of the Top 20 Best Medical Schools in country. Mount Sinai Health System hospitals are consistently ranked regionally by specialty and our physicians in the top 1% of all physicians nationally by U.S. News & World Report.

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