Publications by authors named "Hali Lindsay"

4 Publications

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Remote cognitive assessment of older adults in rural areas by telemedicine and automatic speech and video analysis: protocol for a cross-over feasibility study.

BMJ Open 2021 09 2;11(9):e047083. Epub 2021 Sep 2.

Cobtek (Cognition-Behaviour-Technology) Lab, FRIS, Universite Cote d'Azur, Nice, France.

Introduction: Early detection of cognitive impairments is crucial for the successful implementation of preventive strategies. However, in rural isolated areas or so-called 'medical deserts', access to diagnosis and care is very limited. With the current pandemic crisis, now even more than ever, remote solutions such as telemedicine platforms represent great potential and can help to overcome this barrier. Moreover, current advances made in voice and image analysis can help overcome the barrier of physical distance by providing additional information on a patients' emotional and cognitive state. Therefore, the aim of this study is to evaluate the feasibility and reliability of a videoconference system for remote cognitive testing empowered by automatic speech and video analysis.

Methods And Analysis: 60 participants (aged 55 and older) with and without cognitive impairment will be recruited. A complete neuropsychological assessment including a short clinical interview will be administered in two conditions, once by telemedicine and once by face-to-face. The order of administration procedure will be counterbalanced so half of the sample starts with the videoconference condition and the other half with the face-to-face condition. Acceptability and user experience will be assessed among participants and clinicians in a qualitative and quantitative manner. Speech and video features will be extracted and analysed to obtain additional information on mood and engagement levels. In a subgroup, measurements of stress indicators such as heart rate and skin conductance will be compared.

Ethics And Dissemination: The procedures are not invasive and there are no expected risks or burdens to participants. All participants will be informed that this is an observational study and their consent taken prior to the experiment. Demonstration of the effectiveness of such technology makes it possible to diffuse its use across all rural areas ('medical deserts') and thus, to improve the early diagnosis of neurodegenerative pathologies, while providing data crucial for basic research. Results from this study will be published in peer-reviewed journals.
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September 2021

Patients with amnestic MCI Fail to Adapt Executive Control When Repeatedly Tested with Semantic Verbal Fluency Tasks.

J Int Neuropsychol Soc 2021 Jun 30:1-8. Epub 2021 Jun 30.

University Hospital of Old Age Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland.

Objective: Semantic verbal fluency (SVF) tasks require individuals to name items from a specified category within a fixed time. An impaired SVF performance is well documented in patients with amnestic Mild Cognitive Impairment (aMCI). The two leading theoretical views suggest either loss of semantic knowledge or impaired executive control to be responsible.

Method: We assessed SVF 3 times on 2 consecutive days in 29 healthy controls (HC) and 29 patients with aMCI with the aim to answer the question which of the two views holds true.

Results: When doing the task for the first time, patients with aMCI produced fewer and more common words with a shorter mean response latency. When tested repeatedly, only healthy volunteers increased performance. Likewise, only the performance of HC indicated two distinct retrieval processes: a prompt retrieval of readily available items at the beginning of the task and an active search through semantic space towards the end. With repeated assessment, the pool of readily available items became larger in HC, but not patients with aMCI.

Conclusion: The production of fewer and more common words in aMCI points to a smaller search set and supports the loss of semantic knowledge view. The failure to improve performance as well as the lack of distinct retrieval processes point to an additional impairment in executive control. Our data did not clearly favour one theoretical view over the other, but rather indicates that the impairment of patients with aMCI in SVF is due to a combination of both.
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June 2021

Language Impairment in Alzheimer's Disease-Robust and Explainable Evidence for AD-Related Deterioration of Spontaneous Speech Through Multilingual Machine Learning.

Front Aging Neurosci 2021 19;13:642033. Epub 2021 May 19.

Institut national de recherche en informatique et en automatique (INRIA), Stars Team, Sophia Antipolis, Valbonne, France.

Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a pervasive neurodegenerative disease that affects millions worldwide and is most prominently associated with broad cognitive decline, including language impairment. Picture description tasks are routinely used to monitor language impairment in AD. Due to the high amount of manual resources needed for an in-depth analysis of thereby-produced spontaneous speech, advanced natural language processing (NLP) combined with machine learning (ML) represents a promising opportunity. In this applied research field though, NLP and ML methodology do not necessarily ensure robust clinically actionable insights into cognitive language impairment in AD and additional precautions must be taken to ensure clinical-validity and generalizability of results. In this study, we add generalizability through multilingual feature statistics to computational approaches for the detection of language impairment in AD. We include 154 participants (78 healthy subjects, 76 patients with AD) from two different languages (106 English speaking and 47 French speaking). Each participant completed a picture description task, in addition to a battery of neuropsychological tests. Each response was recorded and manually transcribed. From this, task-specific, semantic, syntactic and paralinguistic features are extracted using NLP resources. Using inferential statistics, we determined language features, excluding task specific features, that are significant in both languages and therefore represent "generalizable" signs for cognitive language impairment in AD. In a second step, we evaluated all features as well as the generalizable ones for English, French and both languages in a binary discrimination ML scenario (AD vs. healthy) using a variety of classifiers. The generalizable language feature set outperforms the all language feature set in English, French and the multilingual scenarios. Semantic features are the most generalizable while paralinguistic features show no overlap between languages. The multilingual model shows an equal distribution of error in both English and French. By leveraging multilingual statistics combined with a theory-driven approach, we identify AD-related language impairment that generalizes beyond a single corpus or language to model language impairment as a clinically-relevant cognitive symptom. We find a primary impairment in semantics in addition to mild syntactic impairment, possibly confounded by additional impaired cognitive functions.
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May 2021

Measuring Stress in Health Professionals Over the Phone Using Automatic Speech Analysis During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Observational Pilot Study.

J Med Internet Res 2021 04 19;23(4):e24191. Epub 2021 Apr 19.

CoBteK (Cognition-Behaviour-Technology) Lab, La Fédération de Recherche Interventions en Santé, Université Côte d'Azur, Nice, France.

Background: During the COVID-19 pandemic, health professionals have been directly confronted with the suffering of patients and their families. By making them main actors in the management of this health crisis, they have been exposed to various psychosocial risks (stress, trauma, fatigue, etc). Paradoxically, stress-related symptoms are often underreported in this vulnerable population but are potentially detectable through passive monitoring of changes in speech behavior.

Objective: This study aims to investigate the use of rapid and remote measures of stress levels in health professionals working during the COVID-19 outbreak. This was done through the analysis of participants' speech behavior during a short phone call conversation and, in particular, via positive, negative, and neutral storytelling tasks.

Methods: Speech samples from 89 health care professionals were collected over the phone during positive, negative, and neutral storytelling tasks; various voice features were extracted and compared with classical stress measures via standard questionnaires. Additionally, a regression analysis was performed.

Results: Certain speech characteristics correlated with stress levels in both genders; mainly, spectral (ie, formant) features, such as the mel-frequency cepstral coefficient, and prosodic characteristics, such as the fundamental frequency, appeared to be sensitive to stress. Overall, for both male and female participants, using vocal features from the positive tasks for regression yielded the most accurate prediction results of stress scores (mean absolute error 5.31).

Conclusions: Automatic speech analysis could help with early detection of subtle signs of stress in vulnerable populations over the phone. By combining the use of this technology with timely intervention strategies, it could contribute to the prevention of burnout and the development of comorbidities, such as depression or anxiety.
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April 2021