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Have you ever struggled to explain how you are feeling? Everyone finds communicating emotional states challenging. Most of the time, this difficulty is not life-threatening, but when we suffer from mental illnesses, the stakes are higher.
Mental health professionals face the daunting task of interpreting human emotional states and mental health from what their patients tell them. So far, there are no chemical diagnostic tests for such the early onset of diseases as schizophrenia, depression, or dementia.
Advances in AI, however, are allowing diagnosticians to use simple language tests to spot signs of the early appearance of these serious conditions. This raises the prospect that, simply by listening to us talk, a 'robot psychiatrist' could diagnose a range of mental health conditions years before they cause more noticeable symptoms.
Dr. Cecchi is one of the key pioneers of this new branch of medical AI. He works for IBM Research, based in New York. He spearheaded the application of computational linguistics to short speech samples for diagnosis and prognosis of conditions as diverse as schizophrenia, mania, drug and alcohol intoxication and Parkinson's disease. He is currently the director of the Computational Psychiatry & Neuroimaging group, which he founded.
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