Automatic subtyping of individuals with primary progressive aphasia

Charalambos Themistocleous, Bronte Ficek, Kimberly Webster, Dirk Bart den Ouden, Argye E. Hillis, Kyrana Tsapkini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: The classification of patients with primary progressive aphasia (PPA) into variants is time-consuming, costly, and requires combined expertise by clinical neurologists, neuropsychologists, speech pathologists, and radiologists. Objective: The aim of the present study is to determine whether acoustic and linguistic variables provide accurate classification of PPA patients into one of three variants: nonfluent PPA, semantic PPA, and logopenic PPA. Methods: In this paper, we present a machine learning model based on deep neural networks (DNN) for the subtyping of patients with PPA into three main variants, using combined acoustic and linguistic information elicited automatically via acoustic and linguistic analysis. The performance of the DNN was compared to the classification accuracy of Random Forests, Support Vector Machines, and Decision Trees, as well as to expert clinicians' classifications. Results: The DNN model outperformed the other machine learning models as well as expert clinicians' classifications with 80% classification accuracy. Importantly, 90% of patients with nfvPPA and 95% of patients with lvPPA was identified correctly, providing reliable subtyping of these patients into their corresponding PPA variants. Conclusion: We show that the combined speech and language markers from connected speech productions can inform variant subtyping in patients with PPA. The end-to-end automated machine learning approach we present can enable clinicians and researchers to provide an easy, quick, and inexpensive classification of patients with PPA.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1185-1194
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Alzheimer's Disease
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2021


  • Classification
  • Machine learning
  • Natural language processing
  • Primary progressive aphasia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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