Automatic assessment of speech impairment is a cutting edge topic in Parkinson’s disease (PD). Language disorders are known to occur several years earlier than typical motor symptoms, thus speech analysis may contribute to the early diagnosis of the disease. Moreover, the remote monitoring of dysphonia could allow achieving an effective follow-up of PD clinical condition, possibly performed in the home environment.
In this work, we performed a multi-level analysis, progressively combining features extracted from the entire signal, the voiced segments, and the on-set/off-set regions, leading to a total number of 126 features. Furthermore, we compared the performance of early and late feature fusion schemes, aiming to identify the best model configuration and taking advantage of having 25 isolated words pronounced by each subject. We employed data from the PC-GITA database (50 healthy controls and 50 PD patients) for validation and testing.
We implemented an optimized k-Nearest Neighbours model for the binary classification of PD patients versus healthy controls. We achieved an accuracy of 99.4% in 10-fold cross-validation and 94.3% in testing on the PC-GITA database (average value of male and female subjects).
The promising performance yielded by our model confirms the feasibility of automatic assessment of PD using voice recordings. Moreover, a post-hoc analysis of the most relevant features discloses the option of voice processing using a simple smartphone application.
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