Computerized measurement of negative symptoms in schizophrenia

Alex S. Cohen, Murray Alpert, Tasha M. Nienow, Thomas J. Dinzeo, Nancy M. Docherty

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

74 Scopus citations


Accurate measurement of negative symptoms is crucial for understanding and treating schizophrenia. However, current measurement strategies are reliant on subjective symptom rating scales, which often have psychometric and practical limitations. Computerized analysis of patients' speech offers a sophisticated and objective means of evaluating negative symptoms. The present study examined the feasibility and validity of using widely-available acoustic and lexical-analytic software to measure flat affect, alogia and anhedonia (via positive emotion). These measures were examined in their relationships to clinically-rated negative symptoms and social functioning. Natural speech samples were collected and analyzed for 14 patients with clinically-rated flat affect, 46 patients without flat affect and 19 healthy controls. The computer-based inflection and speech rate measures significantly discriminated patients with flat affect from controls, and the computer-based measure of alogia and negative emotion significantly discriminated the flat and nonflat patients. Both the computer and clinical measures of positive emotion/anhedonia corresponded to functioning impairments. The computerized method of assessing negative symptoms offered a number of advantages over the symptom scale-based approach.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)827-836
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Psychiatric Research
Issue number10
StatePublished - Aug 2008
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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