Alogia and pressured speech do not fall on a continuum of speech production using objective speech technologies

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Speech production is affected in a variety of serious mental illnesses (SMI; e.g., schizophrenia, unipolar depression, bipolar disorders) and at its extremes can be observed in the gross reduction of speech (e.g., alogia) or increase of speech (e.g., pressured speech). The present study evaluated whether clinically-rated alogia and pressured speech represent antithetical constructs when analyzed using objective metrics of speech production. We examined natural speech using acoustic and natural language processing features from two archival studies using several different speaking tasks and a combined 107 patients meeting criteria for SMI. Contrary to expectations, we did not find that alogia and pressured speech presented as opposing ends of a speech production continuum. Objective speech markers were associated with clinically rated alogia but not pressured speech, and these results were consistent across speaking tasks and studies. Implications for our understanding of speech production symptoms in SMI are discussed, as well as implications for Natural Language Processing and digital phenotyping efforts more generally.

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Schizophrenia research

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