October 4, 2018

PRIORI Project Update

PRIORI: Predicting Individual Outcomes for Rapid Intervention

Research technicians listening to speech snippets.

From our earliest years, humans learn to differentiate happy voices from sad voices. As we grow, we are often able to recognize more complex changes in mood by the cadence and volume of a person’s speech. The PRIORI project, a collaboration between the Prechter Bipolar Research Program and the University of Michigan College of Engineering, is working to teach computers to discern subtle changes in speech patterns that predict changes in mood. Speech is collected through the PRIORI app, which runs in the background of a smart phone. Our goal is to provide an early warning system for individuals with bipolar disorder to allow for early intervention that may reduce serious outcomes.

This year, the Prechter Bipolar Research Program opened a satellite lab dedicated to work on the PRIORI project. Research technicians listen to hours of short speech snippets and rate them on key characteristics. These ratings are fed into computers, guiding machine learning. A paper resulting from this work has been accepted for publication at the Interspeech Conference (interspeech2018.org). Titled, The PRIORI Emotion Dataset: Linking Mood to Emotion Detected In-the-Wild, this paper outlines the critical steps in developing a pipeline that uses emotion to improve mood state prediction and provides evidence and a working model for the use of emotion as a meta-feature for mood state monitoring.

As our engineers gain accuracy in the use of vocal acoustics to predict mood change in individuals who speak English, the question arises as to whether these acoustical changes remain constant across languages. Last fall, we began a federally-funded study  that begins to answer that question. Through collaboration with Balamand University in Beirut, Lebanon, we are testing the PRIORI app on the Arabic language, using the app with Arabic-speaking individuals both in Lebanon and in Michigan. 

Our collaboration continues with Brown University on a five-year federally-funded study that uses PRIORI to monitor suicide risk over time. Analysis has begun on 46 subjects with 8,138 calls and over 375 hours of speech data.

The Prechter Bipolar Research Program is energized and excited by the progress made on the PRIORI project this year. Much works lies ahead but through partnering with our research participants and donors, we will achieve our goal of improving care and quality of life for individuals with bipolar disorder.