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Multi-modal audio, video and physiological sensor learning for continuous emotion prediction

Summary

The automatic determination of emotional state from multimedia content is an inherently challenging problem with a broad range of applications including biomedical diagnostics, multimedia retrieval, and human computer interfaces. The Audio Video Emotion Challenge (AVEC) 2016 provides a well-defined framework for developing and rigorously evaluating innovative approaches for estimating the arousal and valence states of emotion as a function of time. It presents the opportunity for investigating multimodal solutions that include audio, video, and physiological sensor signals. This paper provides an overview of our AVEC Emotion Challenge system, which uses multi-feature learning and fusion across all available modalities. It includes a number of technical contributions, including the development of novel high- and low-level features for modeling emotion in the audio, video, and physiological channels. Low-level features include modeling arousal in audio with minimal prosodic-based descriptors. High-level features are derived from supervised and unsupervised machine learning approaches based on sparse coding and deep learning. Finally, a state space estimation approach is applied for score fusion that demonstrates the importance of exploiting the time-series nature of the arousal and valence states. The resulting system outperforms the baseline systems [10] on the test evaluation set with an achieved Concordant Correlation Coefficient (CCC) for arousal of 0.770 vs 0.702 (baseline) and for valence of 0.687 vs 0.638. Future work will focus on exploiting the time-varying nature of individual channels in the multi-modal framework.
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Summary

The automatic determination of emotional state from multimedia content is an inherently challenging problem with a broad range of applications including biomedical diagnostics, multimedia retrieval, and human computer interfaces. The Audio Video Emotion Challenge (AVEC) 2016 provides a well-defined framework for developing and rigorously evaluating innovative approaches for estimating the...

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Detecting depression using vocal, facial and semantic communication cues

Summary

Major depressive disorder (MDD) is known to result in neurophysiological and neurocognitive changes that affect control of motor, linguistic, and cognitive functions. MDD's impact on these processes is reflected in an individual's communication via coupled mechanisms: vocal articulation, facial gesturing and choice of content to convey in a dialogue. In particular, MDD-induced neurophysiological changes are associated with a decline in dynamics and coordination of speech and facial motor control, while neurocognitive changes influence dialogue semantics. In this paper, biomarkers are derived from all of these modalities, drawing first from previously developed neurophysiologically motivated speech and facial coordination and timing features. In addition, a novel indicator of lower vocal tract constriction in articulation is incorporated that relates to vocal projection. Semantic features are analyzed for subject/avatar dialogue content using a sparse coded lexical embedding space, and for contextual clues related to the subject's present or past depression status. The features and depression classification system were developed for the 6th International Audio/Video Emotion Challenge (AVEC), which provides data consisting of audio, video-based facial action units, and transcribed text of individuals communicating with the human-controlled avatar. A clinical Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ) score and binary depression decision are provided for each participant. PHQ predictions were obtained by fusing outputs from a Gaussian staircase regressor for each feature set, with results on the development set of mean F1=0.81, RMSE=5.31, and MAE=3.34. These compare favorably to the challenge baseline development results of mean F1=0.73, RMSE=6.62, and MAE=5.52. On test set evaluation, our system obtained a mean F1=0.70, which is similar to the challenge baseline test result. Future work calls for consideration of joint feature analyses across modalities in an effort to detect neurological disorders based on the interplay of motor, linguistic, affective, and cognitive components of communication.
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Summary

Major depressive disorder (MDD) is known to result in neurophysiological and neurocognitive changes that affect control of motor, linguistic, and cognitive functions. MDD's impact on these processes is reflected in an individual's communication via coupled mechanisms: vocal articulation, facial gesturing and choice of content to convey in a dialogue. In...

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Relation of automatically extracted formant trajectories with intelligibility loss and speaking rate decline in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

Published in:
INTERSPEECH 2016: 16th Annual Conf. of the Int. Speech Communication Assoc., 8-12 September 2016.

Summary

Effective monitoring of bulbar disease progression in persons with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) requires rapid, objective, automatic assessment of speech loss. The purpose of this work was to identify acoustic features that aid in predicting intelligibility loss and speaking rate decline in individuals with ALS. Features were derived from statistics of the first (F1) and second (F2) formant frequency trajectories and their first and second derivatives. Motivated by a possible link between components of formant dynamics and specific articulator movements, these features were also computed for low-pass and high-pass filtered formant trajectories. When compared to clinician-rated intelligibility and speaking rate assessments, F2 features, particularly mean F2 speed and a novel feature, mean F2 acceleration, were most strongly correlated with intelligibility and speaking rate, respectively (Spearman correlations > 0.70, p < 0.0001). These features also yielded the best predictions in regression experiments (r > 0.60, p < 0.0001). Comparable results were achieved using low-pass filtered F2 trajectory features, with higher correlations and lower prediction errors achieved for speaking rate over intelligibility. These findings suggest information can be exploited in specific frequency components of formant trajectories, with implications for automatic monitoring of ALS.
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Summary

Effective monitoring of bulbar disease progression in persons with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) requires rapid, objective, automatic assessment of speech loss. The purpose of this work was to identify acoustic features that aid in predicting intelligibility loss and speaking rate decline in individuals with ALS. Features were derived from statistics...

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Relating estimated cyclic spectral peak frequency to measured epilarynx length using magnetic resonance imaging

Published in:
INTERSPEECH 2016: 16th Annual Conf. of the Int. Speech Communication Assoc., 8-12 September 2016.

Summary

The epilarynx plays an important role in speech production, carrying information about the individual speaker and manner of articulation. However, precise acoustic behavior of this lower vocal tract structure is difficult to establish. Focusing on acoustics observable in natural speech, recent spectral processing techniques isolate a unique resonance with characteristics of the epilarynx previously shown via simulation, specifically cyclicity (i.e. energy differences between the closed and open phases of the glottal cycle) in a 3-5kHz region observed across vowels. Using Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), the present work relates this estimated cyclic peak frequency to measured epilarynx length. Assuming a simple quarter wavelength relationship, the cavity length estimated from the cyclic peak frequency is shown to be directly proportional (linear fit slope =1.1) and highly correlated (p = 0.85, pval<10^?4) to the measured epilarynx length across speakers. Results are discussed, as are implications in speech science and application domains.
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Summary

The epilarynx plays an important role in speech production, carrying information about the individual speaker and manner of articulation. However, precise acoustic behavior of this lower vocal tract structure is difficult to establish. Focusing on acoustics observable in natural speech, recent spectral processing techniques isolate a unique resonance with characteristics...

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The MITLL NIST LRE 2015 Language Recognition System

Summary

In this paper we describe the most recent MIT Lincoln Laboratory language recognition system developed for the NIST 2015 Language Recognition Evaluation (LRE). The submission features a fusion of five core classifiers, with most systems developed in the context of an i-vector framework. The 2015 evaluation presented new paradigms. First, the evaluation included fixed training and open training tracks for the first time; second, language classification performance was measured across 6 language clusters using 20 language classes instead of an N-way language task; and third, performance was measured across a nominal 3-30 second range. Results are presented for the overall performance across the six language clusters for both the fixed and open training tasks. On the 6-cluster metric the Lincoln system achieved overall costs of 0.173 and 0.168 for the fixed and open tasks respectively.
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Summary

In this paper we describe the most recent MIT Lincoln Laboratory language recognition system developed for the NIST 2015 Language Recognition Evaluation (LRE). The submission features a fusion of five core classifiers, with most systems developed in the context of an i-vector framework. The 2015 evaluation presented new paradigms. First...

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A vocal modulation model with application to predicting depression severity

Published in:
13th IEEE Int. Conf. on Wearable and Implantable Body Sensor Networks, BSN 2016, 14-17 June 2016.

Summary

Speech provides a potential simple and noninvasive "on-body" means to identify and monitor neurological diseases. Here we develop a model for a class of vocal biomarkers exploiting modulations in speech, focusing on Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) as an application area. Two model components contribute to the envelope of the speech waveform: amplitude modulation (AM) from respiratory muscles, and AM from interaction between vocal tract resonances (formants) and frequency modulation in vocal fold harmonics. Based on the model framework, we test three methods to extract envelopes capturing these modulations of the third formant for synthesized sustained vowels. Using subsequent modulation features derived from the model, we predict MDD severity scores with a Gaussian Mixture Model. Performing global optimization over classifier parameters and number of principal components, we evaluate performance of the features by examining the root-mean-squared error (RMSE), mean absolute error (MAE), and Spearman correlation between the actual and predicted MDD scores. We achieved RMSE and MAE values 10.32 and 8.46, respectively (Spearman correlation=0.487, p<0.001), relative to a baseline RMSE of 11.86 and MAE of 10.05, obtained by predicting the mean MDD severity score. Ultimately, our model provides a framework for detecting and monitoring vocal modulations that could also be applied to other neurological diseases.
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Summary

Speech provides a potential simple and noninvasive "on-body" means to identify and monitor neurological diseases. Here we develop a model for a class of vocal biomarkers exploiting modulations in speech, focusing on Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) as an application area. Two model components contribute to the envelope of the speech...

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Estimating lower vocal tract features with closed-open phase spectral analyses

Published in:
INTERSPEECH 2015: 15th Annual Conf. of the Int. Speech Communication Assoc., 6-10 September 2015.

Summary

Previous studies have shown that, in addition to being speaker-dependent yet context-independent, lower vocal tract acoustics significantly impact the speech spectrum at mid-to-high frequencies (e.g 3-6kHz). The present work automatically estimates spectral features that exhibit acoustic properties of the lower vocal tract. Specifically aiming to capture the cyclicity property of the epilarynx tube, a novel multi-resolution approach to spectral analyses is presented that exploits significant differences between the closed and open phases of a glottal cycle. A prominent null linked to the piriform fossa is also estimated. Examples of the feature estimation on natural speech of the VOICES multi-speaker corpus illustrate that a salient spectral pattern indeed emerges between 3-6kHz across all speakers. Moreover, the observed pattern is consistent with that canonically shown for the lower vocal tract in previous works. Additionally, an instance of a speaker's formant (i.e. spectral peak around 3kHz that has been well-established as a characteristic of voice projection) is quantified here for the VOICES template speaker in relation to epilarynx acoustics. The corresponding peak is shown to be double the power on average compared to the other speakers (20 vs 10 dB).
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Summary

Previous studies have shown that, in addition to being speaker-dependent yet context-independent, lower vocal tract acoustics significantly impact the speech spectrum at mid-to-high frequencies (e.g 3-6kHz). The present work automatically estimates spectral features that exhibit acoustic properties of the lower vocal tract. Specifically aiming to capture the cyclicity property of...

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