Detecting Parkinson's Disease From an Online Speech-task

Wasifur Rahman, Sangwu Lee, Md. Saiful Islam, Victor Nikhil Antony, Harshil Ratnu, Mohammad Rafayet Ali, Abdullah Al Mamun, Ellen Wagner, Stella Jensen-Roberts, Max Little, Ray Dorsey, Ehsan Hoque

In this paper, we envision a web-based framework that can help anyone, anywhere around the world record a short speech task, and analyze the recorded data to screen for Parkinson's disease (PD). We collected data from 726 unique participants (262 PD, 38% female; 464 non-PD, 65% female; average age: 61) -- from all over the US and beyond. A small portion of the data was collected in a lab setting to compare quality. The participants were instructed to utter a popular pangram containing all the letters in the English alphabet "the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog..". We extracted both standard acoustic features (Mel Frequency Cepstral Coefficients (MFCC), jitter and shimmer variants) and deep learning based features from the speech data. Using these features, we trained several machine learning algorithms. We achieved 0.75 AUC (Area Under The Curve) performance on determining presence of self-reported Parkinson's disease by modeling the standard acoustic features through the XGBoost -- a gradient-boosted decision tree model. Further analysis reveal that the widely used MFCC features and a subset of previously validated dysphonia features designed for detecting Parkinson's from verbal phonation task (pronouncing 'ahh') contains the most distinct information. Our model performed equally well on data collected in controlled lab environment as well as 'in the wild' across different gender and age groups. Using this tool, we can collect data from almost anyone anywhere with a video/audio enabled device, contributing to equity and access in neurological care.

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