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Software Than Can Listen for and Detect Depression To Help With Chronic Disease Monitoring

Posted Nov 06 2009 10:01pm

One of the targets for the software would be individuals with chronic disease, to see if the voice patterns might relate to depression.  Well I could image almost guess anyone with any chronic care disease could potentially fall into being depressed a little bit even, again depending on what disease is being managed and just the personality of the individual and now the computer is going to attempt to let us know if we miss it, all in the algorithms.  BD 

It's a common complaint in any communication breakdown: "It's not what you said, it's how you said it." For professor Sandy Pentland and his group at MIT's Media Lab, the tone and pitch of a person's voice, the length and frequency of pauses and speed of speech can reveal  much about his or her mood.

In much the same way, Cogito Health's software detects specific patterns in vocal recordings. For example, the researchers have developed mathematical models to measure a speaker's consistency in tone, fluidity of speech, level of vocal energy, and level of engagement in the conversation (for example, whether someone responds with "uh-huh's" or with silence). "It listens to the pattern of speech, not the words," says Pentland, a scientific advisor to the company. "By measuring those signals in the background, you can tell what's going on."

Feast says the software could be a valuable tool in managing patients with chronic diseases, which often lead to depression. As part of certain disease-management programs, nurses routinely call patients between visits to ask if they are taking their medication. However, symptoms of depression are more difficult for nurses to identify. Feast says voice analysis software could provide a natural and noninvasive way for nurses to screen for depression during routine phone calls. "If you're a nurse and you're trying to deal with a patient with long-term diabetes, it's very hard to tell if a person is depressed," says Feast. "We try to help nurses detect possible mood disorders in patients that have chronic disease."

Technology Review: Software Listens for Hints of Depression

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