ICDH 2023
Short paper

Remote Inference of Cognitive Scores in ALS Patients Using a Picture Description

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Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a fatal disease that affects not only movement, speech, and breathing but also cognition. Recent studies have focused on the use of language analysis techniques to detect ALS and infer scales for monitoring functional progression. This paper focused on another important aspect, cognitive impairment, which affects 35-50% of the ALS population. In an effort to reach the ALS population, which frequently exhibits mobility limitations, we implemented the digital version of the Edinburgh Cognitive and Behavioral ALS Screen (ECAS) test for the first time. This test, designed to measure cognitive impairment, was remotely performed by 56 participants from the EverythingALS Speech Study1. As part of the study, participants (ALS and non-ALS) were asked to describe weekly one picture from a pool of many pictures with complex scenes displayed on their computer at home. We analyze the descriptions performed within +/- 60 days from the day the ECAS test was administered and extract different types of linguistic and acoustic features. We input those features into linear regression models to infer 5 ECAS sub-scores and the total score. Speech samples from the picture description are reliable enough to predict the ECAS subs-scores, achieving statistically significant Spearman correlation values between 0.32 and 0.51 for the model’s performance using 10-fold cross-validation.