Scientists at the Kaunas University of Technology in Lithuania are developing a new method to facilitate the early diagnosis of Parkinson’s from speech. Speech disorders are known as one of the characteristic symptoms of the disease and the strategy could contribute to the early initiation of treatment.
The hallmark signs of the disease, such as muscle stiffness, tremors and balance problems, usually appear after 80% of the nerve cells in the brain are lost. Speech difficulties can arise even in the initial stage of the disease, with a lower tone of voice, slow and more fragmented speech, and less expression, explain the researchers.
Currently, the diagnosis of Parkinson’s is made from the patient’s clinical history and neurological examination. There is no specific test for its diagnosis or way to prevent neurodegenerative disease.
In the Lithuanian study, researchers used artificial intelligence to study speech samples from 104 people, including 61 Parkinson’s patients and 43 healthy volunteers. Everyone recorded their voice in an acoustic booth and an algorithm was used to process the recordings and analyze the differences.