In recent years, behavioral markers such as spoken language and lexical preferences have been studied in the early detection of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) using conversations. While the combination of linguistic and acoustic signals have been shown to be effective in detecting MCI, they have generally been restricted to structured conversations in which the interviewee responds to fixed prompts. In this study, we show that linguistic and acoustic features can be combined synergistically to identify MCI in semi-structured conversations. Using conversational data from an on-going clinical trial (Clinicaltrials.gov: NCT02871921), we find that the combination of linguistic and acoustic features on semi-structured conversations achieves a mean AUC of 82.7, significantly (p < 0.01) out-performing linguistic-only (74.9 mean AUC) or acoustic-only (65.0 mean AUC) detections on hold-out data. Additionally, features (linguistic, acoustic and combination) obtained from semi-structured conversations outperform their counterparts obtained from structured weekly conversations in identifying MCI. Some linguistic categories are significantly better at predicting MCI status (e.g., death, home) than others.
Keywords: Alzheimer's disease; I-CONECT project; audio and linguistic markers; behavioral intervention; conversations; mild cognitive impairment (MCI).
Copyright © 2022 Tang, Chen, Dodge and Zhou.