Syntactic processing as a marker for cognitive impairment in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

Tsermentseli, Stella, Leigh, Nigel, Taylor, Lorna J, Radunovic, Aleksandar, Catani, Marco and Goldstein, Laura H (2015) Syntactic processing as a marker for cognitive impairment in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis and Frontotemporal Degeneration, 17 (1-2). pp. 69-76. ISSN 2167-8421

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Despite recent interest in cognitive changes in patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), investigations of language function looking at the level of word, sentence and discourse processing are relatively scarce. Data were obtained from 26 patients with sporadic ALS and 26 healthy controls matched for age, education, gender, anxiety, depression and executive function performance. Standardized language tasks included confrontation naming, semantic access, and syntactic comprehension. Quantitative production analysis (QPA) was used to analyse connected speech samples of the Cookie Theft picture description task. Results showed that the ALS patients were impaired on standardized measures of grammatical comprehension and action/verb semantics. At the level of discourse, ALS patients were impaired on measures of syntactic complexity and fluency; however, the latter could be better explained by disease related factors. Discriminant analysis revealed that syntactic measures differentiated ALS patients from controls. In conclusion, patients with ALS exhibit deficits in receptive and expressive language on tasks of comprehension and connected speech production, respectively. Our findings suggest that syntactic processing deficits seem to be the predominant feature of language impairment in ALS and that these deficits can be detected by relatively simple language tests.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Cognition, language, speech, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
Schools and Departments: Brighton and Sussex Medical School > Neuroscience
Subjects: R Medicine
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC0321 Neurosciences. Biological psychiatry. Neuropsychiatry > RC0346 Neurology. Diseases of the nervous system Including speech disorders
Depositing User: Patricia Butler
Date Deposited: 16 Sep 2015 07:39
Last Modified: 02 Jul 2019 19:02

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