|Matthew Perez (University of Michigan, USA), Amrit Romana (University of Michigan, USA), Angela Roberts (Northwestern University, USA), Noelle Carlozzi (University of Michigan, USA), Jennifer Ann Miner (University of Michigan, USA), Praveen Dayalu (University of Michigan, USA), Emily Mower Provost (University of Michigan, USA)|
Huntington Disease (HD) is a progressive disorder which often manifests in motor impairment. Motor severity (captured via motor score) is a key component in assessing overall HD severity. However, motor score evaluation involves in-clinic visits with a trained medical professional, which are expensive and not always accessible. Speech analysis provides an attractive avenue for tracking HD severity because speech is easy to collect remotely and provides insight into motor changes. HD speech is typically characterized as having irregular articulation. With this in mind, acoustic features that can capture vocal tract movement and articulatory coordination are particularly promising for characterizing motor symptom progression in HD. In this paper, we present an experiment that uses Vocal Tract Coordination (VTC) features extracted from read speech to estimate a motor score. When using an elastic-net regression model, we find that VTC features significantly outperform other acoustic features across varied-length audio segments, which highlights the effectiveness of these features for both short- and long-form reading tasks. Lastly, we analyze the F-value scores of VTC features to visualize which channels are most related to motor score. This work enables future research efforts to consider VTC features for acoustic analyses which target HD motor symptomatology tracking.