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
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 integrated delivery system, encompassing eight hospitals, a leading medical school, and a vast network of ambulatory practices throughout the greater New York region. Mount Sinai's vision is to produce the safest care, the highest quality, the highest satisfaction, the best access and the best value of any health system in the nation. The Health System includes approximately 7,480 primary and specialty care physicians; 11 joint-venture ambulatory surgery centers; more than 410 ambulatory practices throughout the five boroughs of New York City, Westchester, Long Island, and Florida; and 31 affiliated community health centers. The Icahn School of Medicine is one of three medical schools that have earned distinction by multiple indicators: ranked in the top 20 by U.S. News & World Report's "Best Medical Schools", aligned with a U.S. News & World Report's "Honor Roll" Hospital, No. 12 in the nation for National Institutes of Health funding, and among the top 10 most innovative research institutions as ranked by the journal Nature in its Nature Innovation Index. This reflects a special level of excellence in education, clinical practice, and research. The Mount Sinai Hospital is ranked No. 14 on U.S. News & World Report's "Honor Roll" of top U.S. hospitals; it is one of the nation's top 20 hospitals in Cardiology/Heart Surgery, Diabetes/Endocrinology, Gastroenterology/GI Surgery, Geriatrics, Gynecology, Nephrology, Neurology/Neurosurgery, and Orthopedics in the 2019-2020 "Best Hospitals" issue. Mount Sinai's Kravis Children's Hospital also is ranked nationally in five out of ten pediatric specialties by U.S. News & World Report. The New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai is ranked 12th nationally for Ophthalmology and the South Nassau Communities Hospital is ranked 35th nationally for Urology. Mount Sinai Beth Israel, Mount Sinai St. Luke's, Mount Sinai West, and South Nassau Communities Hospital are ranked regionally.