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Detecting pathogen exposure during the non-symptomatic incubation period using physiological data: proof of concept in non-human primates

Summary

Background and Objectives: Early warning of bacterial and viral infection, prior to the development of overt clinical symptoms, allows not only for improved patient care and outcomes but also enables faster implementation of public health measures (patient isolation and contact tracing). Our primary objectives in this effort are 3-fold. First, we seek to determine the upper limits of early warning detection through physiological measurements. Second, we investigate whether the detected physiological response is specific to the pathogen. Third, we explore the feasibility of extending early warning detection with wearable devices. Research Methods: For the first objective, we developed a supervised random forest algorithm to detect pathogen exposure in the asymptomatic period prior to overt symptoms (fever). We used high-resolution physiological telemetry data (aortic blood pressure, intrathoracic pressure, electrocardiograms, and core temperature) from non-human primate animal models exposed to two viral pathogens: Ebola and Marburg (N = 20). Second, to determine reusability across different pathogens, we evaluated our algorithm against three independent physiological datasets from non-human primate models (N = 13) exposed to three different pathogens: Lassa and Nipah viruses and Y. pestis. For the third objective, we evaluated performance degradation when the algorithm was restricted to features derived from electrocardiogram (ECG) waveforms to emulate data from a non-invasive wearable device. Results: First, our cross-validated random forest classifier provides a mean early warning of 51 ± 12 h, with an area under the receiver-operating characteristic curve (AUC) of 0.93 ± 0.01. Second, our algorithm achieved comparable performance when applied to datasets from different pathogen exposures – a mean early warning of 51 ± 14 h and AUC of 0.95 ± 0.01. Last, with a degraded feature set derived solely from ECG, we observed minimal degradation – a mean early warning of 46 ± 14 h and AUC of 0.91 ± 0.001. Conclusion: Under controlled experimental conditions, physiological measurements can provide over 2 days of early warning with high AUC. Deviations in physiological signals following exposure to a pathogen are due to the underlying host’s immunological response and are not specific to the pathogen. Pre-symptomatic detection is strong even when features are limited to ECG-derivatives, suggesting that this approach may translate to non-invasive wearable devices.
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Summary

Background and Objectives: Early warning of bacterial and viral infection, prior to the development of overt clinical symptoms, allows not only for improved patient care and outcomes but also enables faster implementation of public health measures (patient isolation and contact tracing). Our primary objectives in this effort are 3-fold. First...

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Speaker separation in realistic noise environments with applications to a cognitively-controlled hearing aid

Summary

Future wearable technology may provide for enhanced communication in noisy environments and for the ability to pick out a single talker of interest in a crowded room simply by the listener shifting their attentional focus. Such a system relies on two components, speaker separation and decoding the listener's attention to acoustic streams in the environment. To address the former, we present a system for joint speaker separation and noise suppression, referred to as the Binaural Enhancement via Attention Masking Network (BEAMNET). The BEAMNET system is an end-to-end neural network architecture based on self-attention. Binaural input waveforms are mapped to a joint embedding space via a learned encoder, and separate multiplicative masking mechanisms are included for noise suppression and speaker separation. Pairs of output binaural waveforms are then synthesized using learned decoders, each capturing a separated speaker while maintaining spatial cues. A key contribution of BEAMNET is that the architecture contains a separation path, an enhancement path, and an autoencoder path. This paper proposes a novel loss function which simultaneously trains these paths, so that disabling the masking mechanisms during inference causes BEAMNET to reconstruct the input speech signals. This allows dynamic control of the level of suppression applied by BEAMNET via a minimum gain level, which is not possible in other state-of-the-art approaches to end-to-end speaker separation. This paper also proposes a perceptually-motivated waveform distance measure. Using objective speech quality metrics, the proposed system is demonstrated to perform well at separating two equal-energy talkers, even in high levels of background noise. Subjective testing shows an improvement in speech intelligibility across a range of noise levels, for signals with artificially added head-related transfer functions and background noise. Finally, when used as part of an auditory attention decoder (AAD) system using existing electroencephalogram (EEG) data, BEAMNET is found to maintain the decoding accuracy achieved with ideal speaker separation, even in severe acoustic conditions. These results suggest that this enhancement system is highly effective at decoding auditory attention in realistic noise environments, and could possibly lead to improved speech perception in a cognitively controlled hearing aid.
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Summary

Future wearable technology may provide for enhanced communication in noisy environments and for the ability to pick out a single talker of interest in a crowded room simply by the listener shifting their attentional focus. Such a system relies on two components, speaker separation and decoding the listener's attention to...

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Sensorimotor conflict tests in an immersive virtual environment reveal subclinical impairments in mild traumatic brain injury

Summary

Current clinical tests lack the sensitivity needed for detecting subtle balance impairments associated with mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI). Patient-reported symptoms can be significant and have a huge impact on daily life, but impairments may remain undetected or poorly quantified using clinical measures. Our central hypothesis was that provocative sensorimotor perturbations, delivered in a highly instrumented, immersive virtual environment, would challenge sensory subsystems recruited for balance through conflicting multi-sensory evidence, and therefore reveal that not all subsystems are performing optimally. The results show that, as compared to standard clinical tests, the provocative perturbations illuminate balance impairments in subjects who have had mild traumatic brain injuries. Perturbations delivered while subjects were walking provided greater discriminability (average accuracy ≈ 0.90) than those delivered during standing (average accuracy ≈ 0.65) between mTBI subjects and healthy controls. Of the categories of features extracted to characterize balance, the lower limb accelerometry-based metrics proved to be most informative. Further, in response to perturbations, subjects with an mTBI utilized hip strategies more than ankle strategies to prevent loss of balance and also showed less variability in gait patterns. We have shown that sensorimotor conflicts illuminate otherwise-hidden balance impairments, which can be used to increase the sensitivity of current clinical procedures. This augmentation is vital in order to robustly detect the presence of balance impairments after mTBI and potentially define a phenotype of balance dysfunction that enhances risk of injury.
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Summary

Current clinical tests lack the sensitivity needed for detecting subtle balance impairments associated with mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI). Patient-reported symptoms can be significant and have a huge impact on daily life, but impairments may remain undetected or poorly quantified using clinical measures. Our central hypothesis was that provocative sensorimotor...

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Comparison of two-talker attention decoding from EEG with nonlinear neural networks and linear methods

Summary

Auditory attention decoding (AAD) through a brain-computer interface has had a flowering of developments since it was first introduced by Mesgarani and Chang (2012) using electrocorticograph recordings. AAD has been pursued for its potential application to hearing-aid design in which an attention-guided algorithm selects, from multiple competing acoustic sources, which should be enhanced for the listener and which should be suppressed. Traditionally, researchers have separated the AAD problem into two stages: reconstruction of a representation of the attended audio from neural signals, followed by determining the similarity between the candidate audio streams and the reconstruction. Here, we compare the traditional two-stage approach with a novel neural-network architecture that subsumes the explicit similarity step. We compare this new architecture against linear and non-linear (neural-network) baselines using both wet and dry electroencephalogram (EEG) systems. Our results indicate that the new architecture outperforms the baseline linear stimulus-reconstruction method, improving decoding accuracy from 66% to 81% using wet EEG and from 59% to 87% for dry EEG. Also of note was the finding that the dry EEG system can deliver comparable or even better results than the wet, despite the latter having one third as many EEG channels as the former. The 11-subject, wet-electrode AAD dataset for two competing, co-located talkers, the 11-subject, dry-electrode AAD dataset, and our software are available for further validation, experimentation, and modification.
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Summary

Auditory attention decoding (AAD) through a brain-computer interface has had a flowering of developments since it was first introduced by Mesgarani and Chang (2012) using electrocorticograph recordings. AAD has been pursued for its potential application to hearing-aid design in which an attention-guided algorithm selects, from multiple competing acoustic sources, which...

READ MORE

Detecting pathogen exposure during the non-symptomatic incubation period using physiological data

Summary

Early pathogen exposure detection allows better patient care and faster implementation of public health measures (patient isolation, contact tracing). Existing exposure detection most frequently relies on overt clinical symptoms, namely fever, during the infectious prodromal period. We have developed a robust machine learning based method to better detect asymptomatic states during the incubation period using subtle, sub-clinical physiological markers. Starting with highresolution physiological waveform data from non-human primate studies of viral (Ebola, Marburg, Lassa, and Nipah viruses) and bacterial (Y. pestis) exposure, we processed the data to reduce short-term variability and normalize diurnal variations, then provided these to a supervised random forest classification algorithm and post-classifier declaration logic step to reduce false alarms. In most subjects detection is achieved well before the onset of fever; subject cross-validation across exposure studies (varying viruses, exposure routes, animal species, and target dose) lead to 51h mean early detection (at 0.93 area under the receiver-operating characteristic curve [AUCROC]). Evaluating the algorithm against entirely independent datasets for Lassa, Nipah, and Y. pestis exposures un-used in algorithm training and development yields a mean 51h early warning time (at AUCROC=0.95). We discuss which physiological indicators are most informative for early detection and options for extending this capability to limited datasets such as those available from wearable, non-invasive, ECG-based sensors.
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Summary

Early pathogen exposure detection allows better patient care and faster implementation of public health measures (patient isolation, contact tracing). Existing exposure detection most frequently relies on overt clinical symptoms, namely fever, during the infectious prodromal period. We have developed a robust machine learning based method to better detect asymptomatic states...

READ MORE

Detecting virus exposure during the pre-symptomatic incubation period using physiological data

Summary

Early pathogen exposure detection allows better patient care and faster implementation of public health measures (patient isolation, contact tracing). Existing exposure detection most frequently relies on overt clinical symptoms, namely fever, during the infectious prodromal period. We have developed a robust machine learning method to better detect asymptomatic states during the incubation period using subtle, sub-clinical physiological markers. Using high-resolution physiological data from non-human primate studies of Ebola and Marburg viruses, we pre-processed the data to reduce short-term variability and normalize diurnal variations, then provided these to a supervised random forest classification algorithm. In most subjects detection is achieved well before the onset of fever; subject cross-validation lead to 52±14h mean early detection (at >0.90 area under the receiver-operating characteristic curve). Cross-cohort tests across pathogens and exposure routes also lead to successful early detection (28±16h and 43±22h, respectively). We discuss which physiological indicators are most informative for early detection and options for extending this capability to lower data resolution and wearable, non-invasive sensors.
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Summary

Early pathogen exposure detection allows better patient care and faster implementation of public health measures (patient isolation, contact tracing). Existing exposure detection most frequently relies on overt clinical symptoms, namely fever, during the infectious prodromal period. We have developed a robust machine learning method to better detect asymptomatic states during...

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