Clinical Research

Detect changes in neurological and psychiatric symptoms faster, more easily, and more objectively through speech with the help of natural language processing and artificial intelligence.

Work with us

Backed by clinical evidence

Linguistic features identify Alzheimer’s disease in narrative speech

Detecting Alzheimer’s disease

Analysis of spontaneous speech data elicited through Cookie Theft picture description (1-5 minute samples) from 240 people probable AD category and 233 healthy controls. Linguistic and acoustic variables used to train a machine learning classifier to distinguish between the groups, with 82% accuracy.

Fraser, K. C., Meltzer, J. A., & Rudzicz, F. (2016). Linguistic features identify Alzheimer’s disease in narrative speech. Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, 49(2), 407-422.
Using Linguistic Features Longitudinally to Predict Clinical Scores for Alzheimer's Disease and Related Dementias

Predicting MMSE for AD monitoring

A temporal Bayes network trained on 182 lexicosyntactic, 210 acoustic, and 85 semantic features extracted from 393 spontaneous speech samples elicited through Cookie Theft picture description can predict MMSE scores with a mean absolute error of 3.8, comparable to within-subject interrater (clinician) standard deviation of 3.9 to 4.8.

Yancheva, M., Fraser, K., & Rudzicz, F. (2015). Using Linguistic Features Longitudinally to Predict Clinical Scores for Alzheimer's Disease and Related Dementias.
Automated classification of primary progressive aphasia subtypes from narrative speech transcripts

Subtyping primary progressive aphasia

Syntactic and semantic features were automatically extracted from transcriptions of narrative speech for three groups: semantic dementia (SD), progressive nonfluent aphasia (PNFA), and healthy controls. Machine learning classifiers trained on these features were able to distinguish between the three participant groups with up to 100% accuracy.

Fraser, K.C., Meltzer, J.A., Graham, N.L., Leonard, C., Hirst, G., Black, S.E., & Rochon, E. (2014). Automated classification of primary progressive aphasia subtypes from narrative speech transcripts. Cortex, 55, 43-60.

Our technology

Drug development in neuroscience is hampered by insensitive clinical scales which may not detect subtle changes in symptoms. By extracting over 550 features of speech and language, Winterlight Labs’ technology can measure fine-grained changes that traditional assessments cannot. Our algorithms then use these features to classify heterogeneous disease populations into subgroups, track change over time, and detect response to treatment. Winterlight’s speech assessment is deployed in a dozen clinical studies spanning Alzheimer’s disease, frontotemporal dementia, depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia.

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Unique benefits

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Ease of use

Traditional endpoints are complex, stressful for patients, require specialized training to administer consistently and are challenging to deliver remotely. Our technology is flexible and simple to use. It can be administered by research staff in traditional clinic settings, while also serving as a higher frequency, digital patient reported outcome (PRO) in decentralized trial designs.

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Automatic and objective scoring

The assessment can be completed objectively across patients and administrators. Standard cognitive assessments include components which are subjectively scored and often too coarse. We analyze hundreds of linguistic cues and vocal biomarkers to detect Alzheimer’s disease and other conditions with accuracies between 82% and 100%, as reported in our peer-reviewed academic studies.

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Discover Insights

Our approach goes beyond analyzing the acoustic properties of speech, and also includes the linguistic components of speech, such as word choice, sentence structure, and coherence of ideas to produce a set of over 550 variables. These variables can be grouped into composite metrics such as word-finding difficulty, syntactic complexity, lexical richness, discourse mapping and more.

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Flexible Implementation

We recognize that every clinical development program is unique and so we offer different ways to work with Winterlight as part of your clinical research program. We have developed our own Winterlight Assessment App with customizable tasks that can be used to collect speech data throughout the study, or we can integrate into existing data collection tools via API. We also have the capability to retrospectively analyze data that has been previously collected by other means.

Publications

Fluency in spontaneous speech predicts individual variance in executive function among seniors.

Spencer K.A., Robin J., Xu M., Rose M.K., Bialystok E., Meltzer J.A. (2021)

Alzheimer's Association International Conference.

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Differential speech and language characteristics across neurodegenerative disorders.

Robin J., Xu M., DeSouza D.D., Gupta A.S., Kaufman L.D., Simpson W. (2021)

Alzheimer's Association International Conference.

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Hepatic encephalopathy is associated with slow speech on objective assessment.

Bloom P.P., Robin J., Xu M., Arvind A., Daidone M., Gupta A., Chung R.T. (2021)

The American Journal of Gastroenterology.

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Correlating natural language processing and automated speech analysis with clinician assessment to quantify speech-language changes in mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s dementia.

Yeung A., Iaboni A., Rochon E., Lavoie M., Santiago C., Yancheva M., Novikova J., Xu M., Robin J., Kaufman L.D., Mostafa F. (2021)

Alzheimer's Research & Therapy.

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Psychometric Approach to Speech Feature Analysis as an Objective Measure of Anxiety.

DeSouza D., Xu M., Fidalgo C., Robin J., Simpson B. (2021)

Society of Biological Psychiatry (SOBP) Annual Meeting.

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Comparing Pre-trained and Feature-Based Models for Prediction of Alzheimer's Disease Based on Speech

Balagopalan A., Eyre B., Robin J., Rudzicz F., Novikova J. (2021)

Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience.

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Variation in speech and language variables based on demographic factors.

Robin J., Xu M., Simpson W. (2021)

International Society for CNS Clinical Trials and Methodology.

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Analytical and clinical validation of digital language assessments.

Robin J., Xu M., Simpson W., Novikova J. (2021)

International Society for CNS Clinical Trials and Methodology.

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Augmenting BERT Carefully with Underrepresented Linguistic Features

Balagopalan A., Novikova J. (2020)

Machine Learning for Health Workshop at NeurIPS 2020.

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Remote assessment of speech and language changes in Primary Progressive Aphasia (PPA) and behavioral variant Frontotemporal Dementia (bvFTD).

Robin J., Xu M., Kaufman L.D., Hagey M., Paul R., Siddiqui O., Ward M., Simpson W. (2020)

Clinical Trials on Alzheimer’s Disease.

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Evaluation of speech-based digital biomarkers for Alzheimer’s Disease.

Robin J., Kaufman L.D., Simpson W. (2020)

Clinical Trials on Alzheimer’s Disease.

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Evaluation of Speech-Based Digital Biomarkers: Review and Recommendations.

Robin J., Harrison J.E., Kaufman L.D., Rudzicz F., Simpson W., Yancheva M. (2020)

Digital Biomarkers, 99–108.

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Fantastic Features and Where to Find Them: Detecting Cognitive Impairment with a Subsequence Classification Guided Approach

Eyre B., Balagopalan A., Novikova J. (2020)

W-NUT Workshop on Noisy User-generated Text at EMNLP 2020.

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Hepatic Encephalopathy is Associated with a Distinct Speech Pattern.

Bloom P.P., Arvind A., Daidone M., Robin J., Xu M., Gupta A.S., Chung R.T. (2020)

American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases: The Liver Meeting.

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Gathering normative speech data for depression research remotely, using online task marketplaces.

Fidalgo C., Xu M., Balagopalan A., Robin J., Kaufman L.D., Simpson W. (2020)

International Society for CNS Clinical Trials and Methodology.

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A comparison of clinician assessment of speech versus automated speech analysis in Mild Cognitive Impairment and Alzheimer’s Dementia.

Yeung A., Iaboni A., Rochon E., Lavoie M., Santiago C., Yancheva M., Novikova J., Xu M., Robin J., Kaufman L.D., Mostafa F. (2020)

Alzheimer’s Association International Conference.

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Quality comparison of remote vs. in-person digital speech assessment for dementia.

Robin J., Novikova J., Sirotkin S., Yancheva M., Kaufman L.D., Simpson W. (2020)

Alzheimer’s Association International Conference.

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Comparing longitudinal changes in speech-based digital measures in cognitively healthy, possible cognitive impairment, and MCI/AD individuals.

Robin J., Xu M., Kaufman L.D., Simpson W. (2020)

Alzheimer’s Association International Conference.

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To BERT or Not To BERT: Comparing Speech and Language-based Approaches for Alzheimer's Disease Detection

Balagopalan A., Eyre B., Rudzicz F., Novikova J. (2020)

Proceedings of INTERSPEECH 2020.

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Assessment of ataxia using natural language processing and computational analysis of speech.

Simpson W., Kaufman L.D., Balagopalan A., Khan N.C., Gupta A.S. (2020)

Ataxia Investigators Meeting.

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Tracking changes in cognition in Mild Cognitive Impairment and Alzheimer’s Disease over a 6-month period using a speech-based digital biomarker.

Robin J., Simpson W., Kaufman L.D. (2020)

International Society for CNS Clinical Trials and Methodology.

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Pause-Focussed Sequential Modelling for Predicting Cognitive Impairment on Limited Data

Eyre B., Balagopalan A., Novikova J. (2019)

Machine Learning for Health Workshop at NeurIPS 2019.

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Evaluating a method for automatic and objective scoring of verbal response for the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA).

Kaufman L.D., Balagopalan A., Novikova J., Mostafa F. (2019)

Clinical Trials on Alzheimer’s Disease.

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Early development of a unified, speech and language composite to assess the clinical severity of Frontotemporal Lobar Degeneration (FTLD).

Balagopalan A., Kaufman L.D., Novikova J., Siddiqui O., Paul R., Ward M., Simpson W. (2019)

Clinical Trials on Alzheimer’s Disease.

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Cross-Language Aphasia Detection using Optimal Transport Domain Adaptation

Balagopalan A., Novikova J., McDermott M. B. A., Nestor B., Naumann T., Ghassemi M. (2019)

Machine Learning for Health Workshop at NeurIPS 2019.

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Comparing a speech-based digital biomarker to the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) for tracking cognition over a 6-month period in a naturalistic cohort of older adults.

Simpson W., Balagopalan A., Kaufman L.D., Yancheva M. (2019)

Clinical Trials on Alzheimer’s Disease.

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Lexical Features Are More Vulnerable, Syntactic Features Have More Predictive Power

Novikova J., Balagopalan A., Shkaruta K., Rudzicz F. (2019)

W-NUT Workshop on Noisy User-generated Text at EMNLP 2019.

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Use of a voice-based digital biomarker in patients with depression.

Simpson W., Balagopalan A., Kaufman L.D., Yeung A., Butler A (2019)

International Society for CNS Clinical Trials and Methodology.

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Utility of speech-based digital biomarkers for evaluating disease progression in clinical trials of Alzheimer’s disease.

Simpson W., Kaufman L.D., Detke M., Lynch S., Butler A., Dominy A. (2019)

Alzheimer’s Association International Conference.

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Comparison of a speech-based digital biomarker with the MoCA in a naturalistic cohort of seniors.

Simpson W., Kaufman L.D., Balagopalan A., Novikova J. (2019)

Alzheimer’s Association International Conference.

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Using acoustic and linguistic markers from spontaneous speech to predict scores on the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA).

Balagopalan A., Yancheva M., Novikova J., Simpson W. (2019)

Society of Biological Psychiatry.

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Impact of ASR on Alzheimer's Disease Detection: All Errors are Equal, but Deletions are More Equal than Others

Balagopalan A., Shkaruta K., Novikova J. (2019)

W-NUT Workshop on Noisy User-generated Text at EMNLP 2020.

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Detecting Cognitive Impairments by Agreeing on Interpretations of Linguistic Features

Zhu Z., Novikova J., Rudzicz F. (2019)

NAACL 2019.

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The Effect of Heterogeneous Data for Alzheimer’s Disease Detection from Speech

Balagopalan A., Novikova J., Rudzicz F., Ghassemi M. (2018)

Machine Learning for Health Workshop at NeurIPS 2018.

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Semi-supervised Classification by Reaching Consensus Among Modalities

Zhu Z., Novikova J., Rudzicz F. (2018)

IRASL, Interpretability and Robustness in Audio, Speech and Language Workshop at NeurIPS 2018.

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Learning Multiview Embeddings for Assessing Dementia

Pou-Prom C., Rudzicz F. (2018)

Proceedings of Empirical Methods in Natural Languages Processing 2018.

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A Swedish Cookie-Theft Corpus

Kokkinakis D., Lundholm Fors K., Fraser K.C., Nordlund A. (2018)

Proceedings of the 11th edition of the Language Resources and Evaluation Conference (LREC). Miyazaki, Japan.

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On the Importance of Normative Data in Speech-based Assessment

Noorian Z., Pou-Prom C., Rudzicz F. (2017)

Machine Learning for Health Workshop at NIPS 2017.

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Rhetorical Structure and Alzheimer’s Disease

Abdalla M., Rudzicz F., Hirst G. (2017)

Aphasiology, 32(1):41-60.

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Identifying and Avoiding Confusion in Dialogue with People with Alzheimer’s Disease

Chinaei H., Danks A, Mehta T., Chan-Currie L., Lin H., Rudzicz F. (2017)

Computational Linguistics, 43(2):377-406.

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Speech Recognition in Alzheimer’s Disease and in its Assessment

Zhou L., Fraser K., Rudzicz F. (2016)

Proceedings of Interspeech 2016.

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Vector-space Topic Models for Detecting Alzheimer's Disease

Yancheva, M., Rudzicz, F. (2016)

Proceedings of the 54th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers).

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Toward Dementia Diagnosis via Artificial Intelligence

Rudzicz F. (2016)

Today’s Geriatric Medicine, 9(2):8, March.

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Linguistic features identify Alzheimer’s disease in narrative speech

Fraser K., Meltzer J., Rudzicz F. (2015)

Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, 49(2), 407-422.

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Get in touch

Mailing Address

Winterlight Labs
46 Hayden St
Suite 400
Toronto
Ontario, Canada
M4Y 1V8

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