Cognitive Digital Biomarkers from Automated Transcription of Spoken Language

N. Tavabi, D. Stück, A. Signorini, C. Karjadi, T. Al Hanai, M. Sandoval, C. Lemke, J. Glass, S. Hardy, M. Lavallee, B. Wasserman, T. F.A. Ang, C. M. Nowak, R. Kainkaryam, L. Foschini, Rhoda Au

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Although patients with Alzheimer’s disease and other cognitive-related neurodegenerative disorders may benefit from early detection, development of a reliable diagnostic test has remained elusive. The penetration of digital voice-recording technologies and multiple cognitive processes deployed when constructing spoken responses might offer an opportunity to predict cognitive status. Objective: To determine whether cognitive status might be predicted from voice recordings of neuropsychological testing Design: Comparison of acoustic and (para)linguistic variables from low-quality automated transcriptions of neuropsychological testing (n = 200) versus variables from high-quality manual transcriptions (n = 127). We trained a logistic regression classifier to predict cognitive status, which was tested against actual diagnoses. Setting: Observational cohort study. Participants: 146 participants in the Framingham Heart Study. Measurements: Acoustic and either paralinguistic variables (e.g., speaking time) from automated transcriptions or linguistic variables (e.g., phrase complexity) from manual transcriptions. Results: Models based on demographic features alone were not robust (area under the receiver-operator characteristic curve [AUROC] 0.60). Addition of clinical and standard acoustic features boosted the AUROC to 0.81. Additional inclusion of transcription-related features yielded an AUROC of 0.90. Conclusions: The use of voice-based digital biomarkers derived from automated processing methods, combined with standard patient screening, might constitute a scalable way to enable early detection of dementia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)791-800
Number of pages10
JournalThe journal of prevention of Alzheimer's disease
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2022


  • AD screening
  • Dementia
  • biomarkers
  • predictive modeling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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