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Smart Phones To Diagnose Speech and Language Disorders In Children

First Posted: Oct 15, 2016 05:10 AM EDT
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Early detection for speech and language disorders in children may be possible in mobile devices.
(Photo : Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Early detection of speech and language disorders in children is crucial. But many of these incidents remained unnoticed until later in life.

For many years, researchers around the globe tried to find different ways to detect speech and language disorders at an early stage. One of these research teams seems to be looking at the right direction. MIT Computer Science stated that the Artificial Intelligence Lab and the General Hospital's Institute of Health Professions in Massachusetts are currently developing easily accessible tools that will screen speech and language disorders in children.

How Does it Work?

The children are presented with a story, with a series of photos and accompanying narrative - and they would be asked to retell their version of the story. Using a program installed on a smartphone or a tablet, the application will then analyze the audio recordings.

This type of speech and language disorder detector is being led by John Guttag, an MIT Professor and the senior author of the study. According to Guttag, the idea to conduct fully automated screenings through smart mobile devices may produce better diagnoses. "I think this opens up the possibility of low-cost screening for large numbers of children, and I think that if we could do that, it would be a great boon to society," Guttag said in one of his interviews.

Guttag and Jen Gong used machine learning to create the system sifting through the data gathered by two MGH Institute of Health Professions researchers, Jordan Green and Tiffany Hogan. The program was trained to detect any speech or language impairment.

Speech and language impairments are rooted in the brain, but they also affect neural pathways. Speech disorders disrupt motor pathways and language disorders troubles cognitive and linguistic pathwaysThe study is still in its early stages of experimentation but the researchers are very optimistic about the success of this project. According to the team, initial tests produced promising results.

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