26 Apr 2019

New technology uses voice analysis to diagnose PTSD

A new report details how AI voice analysis can be used to diagnose PTSD in veterans and civilians.

A report published in the psychological journal ‘Depression and Anxiety’ explores how AI voice analysis can be used to more accurately diagnose PTSD. The method could provide an alternative to talk therapy which is often affected by social stigma, and looking for physical markers such as altered neurochemistry, which can be expensive and inaccurate.

A study reviewed by the NYU Langone School of Medicine analysed 129 male veterans who had served in Iraq and Afghanistan who were first assessed with a clinical PTSD scale. Previously defined speech markers were analysed, such as the speed of speech, tone, length of answers, and production of speech.

The report concludes: “We believe that our panel of voice markers represents a rich, multidimensional set of features which with further validation holds promise for developing an objective, low cost, noninvasive, and, given the ubiquity of smart phones, widely accessible tool for assessing PTSD in veteran, military, and civilian contexts.”

It is believed that speech is affected due to changes in the nervous system, muscle tension, and respiration. Other psychological issues have been known to affect speech pattern through physical changes, and the study promises that future research could determine the physical effects of PTSD in greater detail.

The technology could have immeasurable benefits for psychology in general, and be used to identify other disorders, as well as in military healthcare. The condition is difficult to accurately diagnose using traditional methods and has a big impact on the health and wellbeing of veterans and serving personnel.

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