An Avatar-Based System for Identifying Individuals Likely to Develop Dementia

Bahman Mirheidari, Daniel Blackburn, Kirsty Harkness, Traci Walker, Annalena Venneri, Markus Reuber, Heidi Christensen


This paper presents work on developing an automatic dementia screening test based on patients’ ability to interact and communicate — a highly cognitively demanding process where early signs of dementia can often be detected. Such a test would help general practitioners, with no specialist knowledge, make better diagnostic decisions as current tests lack specificity and sensitivity. We investigate the feasibility of basing the test on conversations between a ‘talking head’ (avatar) and a patient and we present a system for analysing such conversations for signs of dementia in the patient’s speech and language. Previously we proposed a semi-automatic system that transcribed conversations between patients and neurologists and extracted conversation analysis style features in order to differentiate between patients with progressive neurodegenerative dementia (ND) and functional memory disorders (FMD). Determining who talks when in the conversations was performed manually. In this study, we investigate a fully automatic system including speaker diarisation, and the use of additional acoustic and lexical features. Initial results from a pilot study are presented which shows that the avatar conversations can successfully classify ND/FMD with around 91% accuracy, which is in line with previous results for conversations that were led by a neurologist.


 DOI: 10.21437/Interspeech.2017-690

Cite as: Mirheidari, B., Blackburn, D., Harkness, K., Walker, T., Venneri, A., Reuber, M., Christensen, H. (2017) An Avatar-Based System for Identifying Individuals Likely to Develop Dementia. Proc. Interspeech 2017, 3147-3151, DOI: 10.21437/Interspeech.2017-690.


@inproceedings{Mirheidari2017,
  author={Bahman Mirheidari and Daniel Blackburn and Kirsty Harkness and Traci Walker and Annalena Venneri and Markus Reuber and Heidi Christensen},
  title={An Avatar-Based System for Identifying Individuals Likely to Develop Dementia},
  year=2017,
  booktitle={Proc. Interspeech 2017},
  pages={3147--3151},
  doi={10.21437/Interspeech.2017-690},
  url={http://dx.doi.org/10.21437/Interspeech.2017-690}
}