Communication Sciences and Disorders Publications


Comparison of machine learning models to classify Auditory Brainstem Responses recorded from children with Auditory Processing Disorder

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Computer Methods and Programs in Biomedicine





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Introduction: Auditory brainstem responses (ABRs) offer a unique opportunity to assess the neural integrity of the peripheral auditory nervous system in individuals presenting with listening difficulties. ABRs are typically recorded and analyzed by an audiologist who manually measures the timing and quality of the waveforms. The interpretation of ABRs requires considerable experience and training, and inappropriate interpretation can lead to incorrect judgments about the integrity of the system. Machine learning (ML) techniques may be a suitable approach to automate ABR interpretation and reduce human error. Objectives: The main objective of this paper was to identify a suitable ML technique to automate the analysis of ABR responses recorded as a part of the electrophysiological testing in the Auditory Processing Disorder clinical test battery. Methods: ABR responses recorded during routine clinical assessment from 136 children being evaluated for auditory processing difficulties were analyzed using several common ML algorithms: Support Vector Machines (SVM), Random Forests (RF), Decision Trees (DT), Gradient Boosting (GB), Extreme Gradient Boosting (Xgboost), and Neural Networks (NN). A variety of signal feature extraction techniques were used to extract features from the ABR waveforms as inputs to the ML algorithms. Statistical significance testing and confusion matrices were used to identify the most robust model capable of accurately identifying neurological abnormalities present in ABRs. Results: Clinically significant features in the time-frequency representation of the signal were identified. The ML model trained using the Xgboost algorithm was identified as the most robust model with an accuracy of 92% compared to other models. Conclusion: The findings of the present study demonstrate that it is possible to develop accurate ML models to automate the process of analyzing ABR waveforms recorded at suprathreshold levels. There is currently no ML-based application to screen children with listening difficulties. Therefore, it is expected that this work will be translated into an evaluation tool that can be used by audiologists in the clinic. Furthermore, this work may aid future researchers in exploring ML paradigms to improve clinical test batteries used by audiologists in achieving accurate diagnoses.

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