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Voice analysis software may help diagnose PTSD in veterans

Voice analysis software can help detect post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in veterans based on their speech, a study suggests.

While some previous research points to the potential for distinct speech patterns among people with PTSD, it’s been unclear whether depression that often accompanies PTSD might explain the unique voice characteristics.

“Those with the PTSD talked more slowly (slower tongue movement), were more monotonous with fewer bursts of vocalization, were less animated and energetic (lifeless) in their speech, and had longer hesitations and a flatter tone,”

The software linked patterns of specific voice features with PTSD, including less clear speech and a lifeless, metallic tone, both of which had long been reported anecdotally as helpful in diagnosis.

While the study did not explore the disease mechanisms behind PTSD, the theory is that traumatic events change brain circuits that process emotion and muscle tone that affect a person’s voice, the study team writes.

“Noticing that a family member exposed to a recent trauma appears to be unusually irritable, aggressive, hyper-vigilant, or reports nightmares, flashbacks of the trauma, or appears socially withdrawn or depressed …

It’s possible a version of the software tested in the study could be readily available, perhaps as a smartphone app, to analyze a person’s speech during and after highly stressful or traumatic experiences and to flag potential problems to patients or clinicians, Osgood said.

Speech Analysis Could Help Diagnose PTSD

Researchers have developed a new technique for speech analysis that can identify markers for post-traumatic stress disorder that humans can't hear.

A team from the New York University School of Medicine and SRI International (an institute perhaps best-known for creating Siri) built an algorithm that analyzes patient interviews, searching for 18 characteristics determined to be useful in diagnosing PTSD.

"The software analyzes words — in combination with frequency, rhythm, tone, and articulatory characteristics of speech — to infer the state of the speaker, including emotion, sentiment, cognition, health, mental health, and communication quality,"SRI International’s Speech Technology and Research Laboratory directorDimitra Vergyri said in a press release.

"The random forest program linked patterns of specific voice features with PTSD, including less clear speech and a lifeless, metallic tone, both of which had long been reported anecdotally as helpful in diagnosis,"

"While the current study did not explore the disease mechanisms behind PTSD, the theory is that traumatic events change brain circuits that process emotion and muscle tone, which affects a person's voice."

PTSD May Be Diagnosed Using AI That Analyzes Voice

Post-traumatic stress disorder is notoriously difficult to diagnose, but now an artificial intelligence tool can help with the diagnosis, according to new research.

'Those with the PTSD talked more slowly (slower tongue movement), were more monotonous with fewer bursts of vocalization, were less animated and energetic (lifeless) in their speech, and had longer hesitations and a flatter tone,' Dr. Charles Marmar, study author and chair of psychiatry at the NYU School of Medicine, saysin a report from Reuters.

'Speech is an attractive candidate for use in an automated diagnostic system, perhaps as part of a future PTSD smartphone app, because it can be measured cheaply, remotely, and nonintrusively,' Adam Brown, lead author and adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the NYU School of Medicine, says.

Experimental AI Tool Recognizes PTSD Based on Voice Features

NYU School of Medicine researchers say artificial intelligence could be used to diagnose PTSD by analyzing voices. Credit: NYU School of Medicine.

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