Tuning In: Comparative Analysis of Audio Classifier Performance in Clinical Settings with Limited Data

Hamza Mahdi, Eptehal Nashnoush, Rami Saab, Arjun Balachandar, Rishit Dagli, Lucas Perri, Houman Khosravani

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Abstract: This study assesses deep learning models for audio classification in a clinical setting with the constraint of small datasets reflecting real-world prospective data collection. We analyze CNNs, including DenseNet and ConvNeXt, alongside transformer models like ViT, SWIN, and AST, and compare them against pre-trained audio models such as YAMNet and VGGish. Our method highlights the benefits of pre-training on large datasets before fine-tuning on specific clinical data. We prospectively collected two first-of-their-kind patient audio datasets from stroke patients. We investigated various preprocessing techniques, finding that RGB and grayscale spectrogram transformations affect model performance differently based on the priors they learn from pre-training. Our findings indicate CNNs can match or exceed transformer models in small dataset contexts, with DenseNet-Contrastive and AST models showing notable performance. This study highlights the significance of incremental marginal gains through model selection, pre-training, and preprocessing in sound classification; this offers valuable insights for clinical diagnostics that rely on audio classification.