Diagnosing People with Dementia Using Automatic Conversation Analysis

Bahman Mirheidari, Daniel Blackburn, Markus Reuber, Traci Walker, Heidi Christensen

A recent study using Conversation Analysis (CA) has demonstrated that communication problems may be picked up during conversations between patients and neurologists, and that this can be used to differentiate between patients with (progressive neurodegenerative dementia) ND and those with (nonprogressive) functional memory disorders (FMD). This paper presents a novel automatic method for transcribing such conversations and extracting CA-style features. A range of acoustic, syntactic, semantic and visual features were automatically extracted and used to train a set of classifiers. In a proof-of-principle style study, using data recording during real neurologist-patient consultations, we demonstrate that automatically extracting CA-style features gives a classification accuracy of 95%when using verbatim transcripts. Replacing those transcripts with automatic speech recognition transcripts, we obtain a classification accuracy of 79% which improves to 90% when feature selection is applied. This is a first and encouraging step towards replacing inaccurate, potentially stressful cognitive tests with a test based on monitoring conversation capabilities that could be conducted in e.g. the privacy of the patient’s own home.

DOI: 10.21437/Interspeech.2016-857

Cite as

Mirheidari, B., Blackburn, D., Reuber, M., Walker, T., Christensen, H. (2016) Diagnosing People with Dementia Using Automatic Conversation Analysis. Proc. Interspeech 2016, 1220-1224.

author={Bahman Mirheidari and Daniel Blackburn and Markus Reuber and Traci Walker and Heidi Christensen},
title={Diagnosing People with Dementia Using Automatic Conversation Analysis},
booktitle={Interspeech 2016},