Towards the automatic detection of social biomarkers in autism spectrum disorder: introducing the simulated interaction task (SIT)

Hanna Drimalla, Tobias Scheffer, Niels Landwehr, Irina Baskow, Stefan Roepke, Behnoush Behnia, Isabel Dziobek
2020 npj Digital Medicine  
Social interaction deficits are evident in many psychiatric conditions and specifically in autism spectrum disorder (ASD), but hard to assess objectively. We present a digital tool to automatically quantify biomarkers of social interaction deficits: the simulated interaction task (SIT), which entails a standardized 7-min simulated dialog via video and the automated analysis of facial expressions, gaze behavior, and voice characteristics. In a study with 37 adults with ASD without intellectual
more » ... sability and 43 healthy controls, we show the potential of the tool as a diagnostic instrument and for better description of ASD-associated social phenotypes. Using machine-learning tools, we detected individuals with ASD with an accuracy of 73%, sensitivity of 67%, and specificity of 79%, based on their facial expressions and vocal characteristics alone. Especially reduced social smiling and facial mimicry as well as a higher voice fundamental frequency and harmony-to-noise-ratio were characteristic for individuals with ASD. The time-effective and cost-effective computer-based analysis outperformed a majority vote and performed equal to clinical expert ratings.
doi:10.1038/s41746-020-0227-5 pmid:32140568 pmcid:PMC7048784 fatcat:j5eop25lkbhn3kzi6cwbbeood4