Protocol for Rhapsody: a longitudinal observational study examining the feasibility of speech phenotyping for remote assessment of neurodegenerative and psychiatric disorders

Elliot Hampsey*, Marton Meszaros, Caroline Skirrow, Rebecca Strawbridge, Rosie H. Taylor, Lazarus Chok, Dag Aarsland, Ammar Al-Chalabi, Ray Chaudhuri, Jack Weston, Emil Fristed, Aleksandra Podlewska, Olabisi Awogbemila, Allan H. Young

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction Neurodegenerative and psychiatric disorders (NPDs) confer a huge health burden, which is set to increase as populations age. New, remotely delivered diagnostic assessments that can detect early stage NPDs by profiling speech could enable earlier intervention and fewer missed diagnoses. The feasibility of collecting speech data remotely in those with NPDs should be established. Methods and analysis The present study will assess the feasibility of obtaining speech data, collected remotely using a smartphone app, from individuals across three NPD cohorts: neurodegenerative cognitive diseases (n=50), other neurodegenerative diseases (n=50) and affective disorders (n=50), in addition to matched controls (n=75). Participants will complete audio-recorded speech tasks and both general and cohort-specific symptom scales. The battery of speech tasks will serve several purposes, such as measuring various elements of executive control (eg, attention and short-term memory), as well as measures of voice quality. Participants will then remotely self-administer speech tasks and follow-up symptom scales over a 4-week period. The primary objective is to assess the feasibility of remote collection of continuous narrative speech across a wide range of NPDs using self-administered speech tasks. Additionally, the study evaluates if acoustic and linguistic patterns can predict diagnostic group, as measured by the sensitivity, specificity, Cohen's kappa and area under the receiver operating characteristic curve of the binary classifiers distinguishing each diagnostic group from each other. Acoustic features analysed include mel-frequency cepstrum coefficients, formant frequencies, intensity and loudness, whereas text-based features such as number of words, noun and pronoun rate and idea density will also be used. Ethics and dissemination The study received ethical approval from the Health Research Authority and Health and Care Research Wales (REC reference: 21/PR/0070). Results will be disseminated through open access publication in academic journals, relevant conferences and other publicly accessible channels. Results will be made available to participants on request. Trial registration number NCT04939818.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere061193
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 6 Jun 2022


  • dementia
  • depression & mood disorders
  • motor neurone disease
  • Parkinson's disease


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