Autism has unique vocal signature, new technology reveals

Autism has unique vocal signature, new technology reveals
July 20, 2010 by Editor
LENA (Language Environment Analysis), a new automated vocal analysis technology, could fundamentally change the study of language development as well as the screening for autism spectrum disorders and language delay, reports a study in the July 19 online Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The LENA (Language Environment Analysis) system automatically labeled infant and child vocalizations from recordings and thereafter an automatic acoustic analysis designed by the researchers showed that pre-verbal vocalizations of very young children with autism are distinctly different from those of typically developing children with 86 percent accuracy.

The most important of these parameters proved to be the ones targeting syllabification, the ability of children to produce well-formed syllables with rapid movements of the jaw and tongue during vocalization. The autistic sample showed little evidence of development on the parameters.

LENA comprises a digital language processor and language analysis software. The processor fits into the pocket of specially designed children’s clothing and records everything the child vocalizes but can reliably distinguish child vocalizations from its cries and vegetative sounds, other voices and extraneous environmental sounds.

More info: University of Kansas news, Automated vocal analysis of naturalistic recordings from children with autism, language delay, and typical development