Julia Parish-Morris


2019

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Using natural conversations to classify autism with limited data: Age matters
Michael Hauser | Evangelos Sariyanidi | Birkan Tunc | Casey Zampella | Edward Brodkin | Robert Schultz | Julia Parish-Morris
Proceedings of the Sixth Workshop on Computational Linguistics and Clinical Psychology

Spoken language ability is highly heterogeneous in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), which complicates efforts to identify linguistic markers for use in diagnostic classification, clinical characterization, and for research and clinical outcome measurement. Machine learning techniques that harness the power of multivariate statistics and non-linear data analysis hold promise for modeling this heterogeneity, but many models require enormous datasets, which are unavailable for most psychiatric conditions (including ASD). In lieu of such datasets, good models can still be built by leveraging domain knowledge. In this study, we compare two machine learning approaches: the first approach incorporates prior knowledge about language variation across middle childhood, adolescence, and adulthood to classify 6-minute naturalistic conversation samples from 140 age- and IQ-matched participants (81 with ASD), while the other approach treats all ages the same. We found that individual age-informed models were significantly more accurate than a single model tasked with building a common algorithm across age groups. Furthermore, predictive linguistic features differed significantly by age group, confirming the importance of considering age-related changes in language use when classifying ASD. Our results suggest that limitations imposed by heterogeneity inherent to ASD and from developmental change with age can be (at least partially) overcome using domain knowledge, such as understanding spoken language development from childhood through adulthood.

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Computational Linguistics for Enhancing Scientific Reproducibility and Reducing Healthcare Inequities
Julia Parish-Morris
Proceedings of the Sixth Workshop on Computational Linguistics and Clinical Psychology

Computational linguistics holds promise for improving scientific integrity in clinical psychology, and for reducing longstanding inequities in healthcare access and quality. This paper describes how computational linguistics approaches could address the “reproducibility crisis” facing social science, particularly with regards to reliable diagnosis of neurodevelopmental and psychiatric conditions including autism spectrum disorder (ASD). It is argued that these improvements in scientific integrity are poised to naturally reduce persistent healthcare inequities in neglected subpopulations, such as verbally fluent girls and women with ASD, but that concerted attention to this issue is necessary to avoid reproducing biases built into training data. Finally, it is suggested that computational linguistics is just one component of an emergent digital phenotyping toolkit that could ultimately be used for clinical decision support, to improve clinical care via precision medicine (i.e., personalized intervention planning), granular treatment response monitoring (including remotely), and for gene-brain-behavior studies aiming to pinpoint the underlying biological etiology of otherwise behaviorally-defined conditions like ASD.

2018

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Oral-Motor and Lexical Diversity During Naturalistic Conversations in Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder
Julia Parish-Morris | Evangelos Sariyanidi | Casey Zampella | G. Keith Bartley | Emily Ferguson | Ashley A. Pallathra | Leila Bateman | Samantha Plate | Meredith Cola | Juhi Pandey | Edward S. Brodkin | Robert T. Schultz | Birkan Tunç
Proceedings of the Fifth Workshop on Computational Linguistics and Clinical Psychology: From Keyboard to Clinic

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental condition characterized by impaired social communication and the presence of restricted, repetitive patterns of behaviors and interests. Prior research suggests that restricted patterns of behavior in ASD may be cross-domain phenomena that are evident in a variety of modalities. Computational studies of language in ASD provide support for the existence of an underlying dimension of restriction that emerges during a conversation. Similar evidence exists for restricted patterns of facial movement. Using tools from computational linguistics, computer vision, and information theory, this study tests whether cognitive-motor restriction can be detected across multiple behavioral domains in adults with ASD during a naturalistic conversation. Our methods identify restricted behavioral patterns, as measured by entropy in word use and mouth movement. Results suggest that adults with ASD produce significantly less diverse mouth movements and words than neurotypical adults, with an increased reliance on repeated patterns in both domains. The diversity values of the two domains are not significantly correlated, suggesting that they provide complementary information.

2016

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Building Language Resources for Exploring Autism Spectrum Disorders
Julia Parish-Morris | Christopher Cieri | Mark Liberman | Leila Bateman | Emily Ferguson | Robert T. Schultz
Proceedings of the Tenth International Conference on Language Resources and Evaluation (LREC'16)

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a complex neurodevelopmental condition that would benefit from low-cost and reliable improvements to screening and diagnosis. Human language technologies (HLTs) provide one possible route to automating a series of subjective decisions that currently inform “Gold Standard” diagnosis based on clinical judgment. In this paper, we describe a new resource to support this goal, comprised of 100 20-minute semi-structured English language samples labeled with child age, sex, IQ, autism symptom severity, and diagnostic classification. We assess the feasibility of digitizing and processing sensitive clinical samples for data sharing, and identify areas of difficulty. Using the methods described here, we propose to join forces with researchers and clinicians throughout the world to establish an international repository of annotated language samples from individuals with ASD and related disorders. This project has the potential to improve the lives of individuals with ASD and their families by identifying linguistic features that could improve remote screening, inform personalized intervention, and promote advancements in clinically-oriented HLTs.

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Exploring Autism Spectrum Disorders Using HLT
Julia Parish-Morris | Mark Liberman | Neville Ryant | Christopher Cieri | Leila Bateman | Emily Ferguson | Robert Schultz
Proceedings of the Third Workshop on Computational Linguistics and Clinical Psychology