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Language Performance as a Biomarker for Future Alzheimer’s Disease

The relationship between language patterns and cognitive impairment have been the subject of many scientific studies. In a study coordinated by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as well as the Boston University School of Medicine and Public Health, an automated system that evaluates features of speech and language was used to examine 92 subjects’ speech samples. From the experiment, the scientists constructed a binomial logistic regression model of the speech and language features to classify the presence of cognitive impairment. This study evaluated language features such as patterns of word usage, speech waveform, intervals of time between words, and voice quality measures like pitch. They found that speech characteristics such as decreasing pitch, presence of jitter, shorter responses and segments of speech, and responses phrased like questions are positively associated with cognitive impairment. Many other studies offer similar conclusions and expand further by demonstrating the role of language characteristics as a biomarker for future Alzheimer’s disease.

While the first study discussed in this article establishes a relationship between linguistic variables and cognitive impairment, this study uses this relationship to develop a simple language test for Alzheimer’s disease.