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Iris Sommer selected as Distinguished Lorentz Fellow 1

Iris Sommer

Distinguished NIAS Lorentz Fellow

Project title

Computational Linguistics to aid Diagnosis and Treatment Monitoring in Psychiatry

Project description

Professor Iris Sommer is an expert on schizophrenia, who aims to find objective measures – or biomarkers – that help diagnose whether a patient is in a psychosis. While brain scans and blood tests have shown disappointing results, the recent research from her team is showing that patients’ language use can reliably reveal whether someone is having a psychosis. Sommer and her colleagues are therefore developing artificial intelligence that can analyse both what patients are saying and how they are saying it in order to diagnose and monitor a psychotic disorder.

The DNLF Fellowship allows Iris Sommer to take the linguistic software models to a next level, by working together intensively with experts from other disciplines, especially linguists and computer scientists. Aim is to see whether automated speech analysis also works in other languages, and to build AI software that is accurate but also ethically sound.

Selected publications

1. de Boer JN, Voppel AE, Brederoo SG, Schnack HG, Truong KP, Wijnen FNK, Sommer IEC. Acoustic speech markers for schizophrenia-spectrum disorders: a diagnostic and symptom-recognition tool. Psychol Med. 2021 Aug 4:1-11. doi:10.1017/S0033291721002804.
2. Voppel AE, de Boer JN, Brederoo SG, Schnack HG, Sommer IEC. Quantified language connectedness in schizophrenia-spectrum disorders, Psychiatry Research, Volume 304, 2021 Oct;304:114230. doi:10.1016/j.psychres.2021.114130.
3. de Boer JN, van Hoogdalem M, Mandl RCW, Brummelman J, Voppel AE, Begemann MJH, van Dellen E, Wijnen FNK, Sommer IEC. Language in schizophrenia: relation with diagnosis, symptomatology and white matter tracts. NPJ Schizophr. 2020 Apr 20;6(1):10. doi:10.1038/s41537-020-0099-3.
4. de Boer JN, Voppel AE, Begemann MJH, Schnack HG, Wijnen F, Sommer IEC. Clinical use of semantic space models in psychiatry and neurology: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2018 Oct;93:85-92. doi:10.1016/j.neubiorev.2018.06.008.

More about myself

Iris Sommer received her Ph.D. from Utrecht University, after which she has published over 300 peer-reviewed articles. From 2012-2016 she was a member of De Jonge Akademie (KNAW), and was elected member of the Royal Holland Society of Sciences and Humanities (KHMW) in 2020.

Sommer has led many international research consortia and is one of the founders of the global Discourse in Psychosis Consortium. Next to her academic work, she has written four popular-scientific books, two of which have become national bestsellers (Haperende Hersenen, 2015, and Het Vrouwenbrein, 2020). She regularly holds presentations to the general audience, most recently at the Gala van de Wetenschap.