Automated text-level semantic markers of Alzheimer's disease

Alzheimer's & dementia (Amsterdam, Netherlands)

Alzheimers Dement (Amst). 2022 Jan 14;14(1):e12276. doi: 10.1002/dad2.12276. eCollection 2022.


INTRODUCTION: Automated speech analysis has emerged as a scalable, cost-effective tool to identify persons with Alzheimer's disease dementia (ADD). Yet, most research is undermined by low interpretability and specificity.

METHODS: Combining statistical and machine learning analyses of natural speech data, we aimed to discriminate ADD patients from healthy controls (HCs) based on automated measures of domains typically affected in ADD: semantic granularity (coarseness of concepts) and ongoing semantic variability (conceptual closeness of successive words). To test for specificity, we replicated the analyses on Parkinson's disease (PD) patients.

RESULTS: Relative to controls, ADD (but not PD) patients exhibited significant differences in both measures. Also, these features robustly discriminated between ADD patients and HC, while yielding near-chance classification between PD patients and HCs.

DISCUSSION: Automated discourse-level semantic analyses can reveal objective, interpretable, and specific markers of ADD, bridging well-established neuropsychological targets with digital assessment tools.

PMID:35059492 | PMC:PMC8759093 | DOI:10.1002/dad2.12276


Camila Sanz
Facundo Carrillo
Andrea Slachevsky
Gonzalo Forno
Maria Luisa Gorno Tempini
Roque Villagra
Agustín Ibáñez
Enzo Tagliazucchi
Adolfo M García