Semantic Apparatus – Natural language processing methods are sensitive to sub-clinical linguistic differences in schizophrenia spectrum disorders

Cited by Lee Sonogan

MA Clinical Linguistics

Abstract by Sunny X. Tang,Reno Kriz,Sunghye Cho,Suh Jung Park,Jenna Harowitz,Raquel E. Gur,Mahendra T. Bhati,Daniel H. Wolf,João Sedoc &Mark Y. Liberman 

Computerized natural language processing (NLP) allows for objective and sensitive detection of speech disturbance, a hallmark of schizophrenia spectrum disorders (SSD). We explored several methods for characterizing speech changes in SSD (n = 20) compared to healthy control (HC) participants (n = 11) and approached linguistic phenotyping on three levels: individual words, parts-of-speech (POS), and sentence-level coherence. NLP features were compared with a clinical gold standard, the Scale for the Assessment of Thought, Language and Communication (TLC). We utilized Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers (BERT), a state-of-the-art embedding algorithm incorporating bidirectional context. Through the POS approach, we found that SSD used more pronouns but fewer adverbs, adjectives, and determiners (e.g., “the,” “a,”). Analysis of individual word usage was notable for more frequent use of first-person singular pronouns among individuals with SSD and first-person plural pronouns among HC. There was a striking increase in incomplete words among SSD. Sentence-level analysis using BERT reflected increased tangentiality among SSD with greater sentence embedding distances. The SSD sample had low speech disturbance on average and there was no difference in group means for TLC scores. However, NLP measures of language disturbance appear to be sensitive to these subclinical differences and showed greater ability to discriminate between HC and SSD than a model based on clinical ratings alone. These intriguing exploratory results from a small sample prompt further inquiry into NLP methods for characterizing language disturbance in SSD and suggest that NLP measures may yield clinically relevant and informative biomarkers.

Publication: npi Schizophrenia (Peer-Reviewed Journal

Pub Date: 14 May 2021 Doi: (Plenty of sections, figures and references in the article for free)

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