What is it about?

In our study, we have examined how speech is altered in people with Huntington's disease (HD). Speech was recorded from English, Spanish and Polish speaking volunteers with and without HD during specific speech tests using mobile devices. The recordings were analyzed using advanced signal processing methods to examine how speech changes in HD. Certain features of speech were found to be different in people with HD irrespective of the language spoken. Using these speech features the participants with HD could be grouped into different categories which corresponded to how severe their symptoms were. Monitoring speech in this way could help doctors better understand and track the changes that take place in HD.

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Why is it important?

This study shows how technology can help us better understand and track changes in speech Huntington's disease (HD). Using widely available mobile devices to record speech, this study highlights specific features of speech that are different in people with HD, independent of spoken language. These differences in speech could be detected and analyzed using devices already available in many clinics. This would enable healthcare providers to use technology to track changes the speech of patients with HD over time, including between clinic visits. In the future, by combining this approach with monitoring other symptoms of HD such as movement symptoms, clinicians and researchers can get a clearer picture of how the disease is progressing and how well treatments are working.


This research further highlights the increasing role and value of digital technology in handheld devices; they are ubiquitous with our daily routine, showcasing their value and to utilise their accessibility. The necessity for increased diversity amongst diagnostic tools in HD, to characterise symptom severity and disease progression, would provide much needed support to patients and clinicians, whilst giving carers more tools to recognise changes in presentation.

Rebecca Cousins
North Bristol NHS Trust

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Language-Independent Acoustic Biomarkers for Quantifying Speech Impairment in Huntington's Disease, American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, March 2024, American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA),
DOI: 10.1044/2024_ajslp-23-00175.
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