AI Detects Psychosis Risk Through Conversational Language

A new study has found that machine-learning artificial intelligence (AI) can successfully detect and predict which individuals would go on to develop psychosis with an accuracy of 93%. The study, which was published in published in npj Schizophrenia, showed machine learning says that frequent ‘sound words’ (words associated with sound) is one clue to the later emergence of psychosis. The researchers also developed a new machine-learning method to quantify the semantics in people’s everyday conversational language.
The researchers investigated potential linguistic indicators
in 40 participants of the North American Prodrome Longitudinal Study (NAPLS).
NAPLS works with youth in the San Francisco Bay area that believe they may be
at-risk for psychosis. The onset of Psychotic disorders and Schizophrenia
typically occurs in peoples’ early 20s, with the warning signs (prodromal
syndrome) beginning around age 17.
Researchers also found that speaking with low semantic
density (or more vagueness) was also a sign for onset of psychosis.
“Trying to hear these subtleties in conversations with
people is like trying to see microscopic germs with your eyes,” says Neguine
Rezaii, first author of the paper. “The automated technique we’ve developed is
a really sensitive tool to detect these hidden patterns. It’s like a microscope
for warning signs of psychosis.”
The study shows that AI and machine learning can be useful
in early detection and prediction of psychosis, for which currently there is
not accurate measure. Machine learning learns from experience and from
patterns. Because of that, machine learning can spot patterns in people
everyday conversational language that may slip past doctors, even those who
have undergone training to spot and treat those at risk for psychosis.
“The results point to a larger project in which automated
analyses of language are used to forecast a broad range of mental disorders
well in advance of their emergence.”
Aside from detection, the study also shows an glance inside
the thought processes affected in the mind of someone with the onset of
psychosis. The results were consistent with previous works suggesting that
patients with psychosis have impairments in using words to generate higher
order meaning. Further research could investigate more ways in which AI can
detect and analyze mental illness, and offer insight into understanding the
mechanism of which these illnesses are caused.


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