Plenary 2: Helen Meng "The Use of Spoken Language Technologies for Screening Neurocognitive Disorders (NCD)"

Schedule is in Singapore (UTC+8) local time
Monday, 23 May, 11:00 - 11:55 (Singapore (UTC+8) local time)


(Chaired by Yang Liu, Amazon)Helen Meng
Photo of Helen Meng

The Use of Spoken Language Technologies for Screening Neurocognitive Disorders (NCD)


This talk shares part of my journey in spoken language technologies research, starting from developing computer-aided pronunciation training technologies to support Chinese learners of English, to the development of AAC (augmentative and alternative communication) devices/technologies such as the e-communication book, dysarthric speech recognition, voice reconstruction, to our recent research in spoken language technologies for screening neurocognitive disorders (NCD). With the global population ageing rapidly, a key health concern lies in NCDs – a common form being Alzheimer’s Disease (AD). NCDs are particularly prominent in older adults, which has an insidious onset followed by gradual, irreversible deterioration in memory, communication, thinking and other cognitive functions. Thus, early detection of NCDs is crucial for timely intervention to slow down disease progression. This challenge motivated the formation of our interdisciplinary team, with researchers in engineering, geriatrics, linguistics, neurology, psychology and public health. We will present our recent research work in spoken language technologies to analyze English and Chinese recordings from neuropsychological assessments for discriminating between healthy controls and participants with NCD. Encouraging experimental results support the viability of fully automatic screening. We will also describe ongoing research on naturalistic data collection and spoken language interface development for older adult users.


Helen Meng is Patrick Huen Wing Ming Professor of the Department of Systems Engineering and Engineering Management, The Chinese University of Hong Kong. She received the S.B., S.M. and Ph.D. degrees, all in Electrical Engineering from MIT. She joined The Chinese University of Hong Kong in 1998, and established the Human-Computer Communications Laboratory in her department in 1999. In 2005, she founded the Microsoft-CUHK Joint Laboratory for Human-Centric Computing and Interface Technologies and serves as Director. This laboratory has been recognized as a Ministry of Education (MoE) of China Key Laboratory since 2008. In 2006, she founded the Tsinghua-CUHK Joint Research Centre for Media Sciences, Technologies and Systems. In 2007, she helped establish the Laboratory for Ambient Intelligence and Multimodal Systems in the Chinese Academy of Sciences Shenzhen Institute of Advanced Technology, through its joint initiative with CUHK. In 2013, she established the CUHK Stanley Ho Big Data Decision Analytics Research Center and serves as its Founding Director. Helen served as Associate Dean (Research) of the Faculty of Engineering between 2006 and 2010, as well as Department Chairman between 2012 and 2018.

Professor Meng is a recognized scholar in the field of multilingual speech and language processing, multimodal human-computer interaction and Big Data analytics. She leads the interdisciplinary research team that received the first Theme-based Research Scheme Project in Artificial Intelligence in 2019. She is a Fellow of the IEEE, elected in 2013 “for contributions to spoken language and multimodal systems”; a Fellow of the International Speech Communication Association (one of 62 worldwide, 8 from Asia), elected in 2016 “for contributions to multilingual, multimodal human-computer interaction and language learning technologies”; and a Fellow of the Hong Kong Institution of Engineers (HKIE) and Hong Kong Computer Society (HKCS). Her recent awards include 2018 CogInfoComm Best Paper Award, 2017 Outstanding Women Professional Award (one of 20 since 1999), 2016 Microsoft Research Outstanding Collaborator Award (one of 32 academics worldwide), 2016 IBM Faculty Award, 2016 IEEE ICME Best Paper Award, 2015 ISCA Distinguished Lecturer, 2015 HKCS inaugural Outstanding ICT Women Professional Award and 2012 Asia-Pacific Signal and Information Processing Association (APSIPA) inaugural Distinguished Lecturer.

Professor Meng devotes much effort towards professional services both regionally and internationally. She was elected Editor-in-Chief (2009-2011) of the IEEE Signal Processing Society’s (SPS) Transaction on Audio, Speech and Language Processing (often regarded as the most prestigious journal in the field), IEEE SPS Board of Governors (2014-2016), and currently serves on the Nominations and Appointments Committee (2017-2018). Helen was also an elected member of the International Speech Communication Association (ISCA) Board (2007-2015) and current serves on its International Advisory Council (2017-2020). She was Technical Chair of ISCA’s flagship conference INTERSPEECH 2014 and General Chair of INTERSPEECH 2020. She is the recipient of the 2019 IEEE Leo L. Beranek Meritorious Service Award for “for exemplary service to and leadership in the Signal Processing Society”.