Is voice a marker for autism spectrum disorder? A systematic review and meta-analysis

Fusaroli, R., Lambrechts, A., Bang, D., Bowler, D. M. & Gaigg, S. B. (2016). Is voice a marker for autism spectrum disorder? A systematic review and meta-analysis. Autism Research, doi: 10.1002/aur.1678

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Abstract

Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) tend to show distinctive, atypical acoustic patterns of speech. These behaviours affect social interactions and social development and could represent a non-invasive marker for ASD. We systematically reviewed the literature quantifying acoustic patterns in ASD. Search terms were: (prosody OR intonation OR inflection OR intensity OR pitch OR fundamental frequency OR speech rate OR voice quality OR acoustic) AND (autis* OR Asperger). Results were filtered to include only: empirical studies quantifying acoustic features of vocal production in ASD, with a sample size > 2, and the inclusion of a neurotypical comparison group and/or correlations between acoustic measures and severity of clinical features. We identified 34 articles, including 30 univariate studies and 15 multivariate machine-learning studies. We performed metaanalyses of the univariate studies, identifying significant differences in mean pitch and pitch range between individuals with ASD and comparison participants (Cohen’s d of 0.4-0.5 and discriminatory accuracy of about 61-64%). The multivariate studies reported higher accuracies than the univariate studies (63-96%). However, the methods used and the acoustic features investigated were too diverse for performing meta-analysis. We conclude that multivariate studies of acoustic patterns are a promising but yet unsystematic avenue for establishing ASD markers. We outline three recommendations for future studies: open data, open methods, and theory-driven research.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Fusaroli, R., Lambrechts, A., Bang, D., Bowler, D. M. & Gaigg, S. B. Is voice a marker for autism spectrum disorder? A systematic review and meta-analysis. Autism Research, which is to be published in final form at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/journal/10.1002/(ISSN)1939-3806/. This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving.
Uncontrolled Keywords: Voice, Speech, Acoustic properties, Machine Learning, Biomarker
Subjects: R Medicine > RC Internal medicine
Divisions: School of Social Sciences > Department of Psychology
URI: http://openaccess.city.ac.uk/id/eprint/14995

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