Assessing Alzheimer’s through speech

 

Jordan WhitlockIs there a way to diagnosis Alzheimer’s disease before the symptoms start?

That is the question Jordan Whitlock, a senior working with Professor Barbara Lust’s research group, is trying to answer. If an earlier diagnosis were possible, then doctors could target this incurable disease in its beginning stages, prior to the onset of severe mental decline and brain damage. The goal of Whitlock’s research is to show if language dete­rioration can be an indicator of the early stages of Alzheimer’s. She says that the “loftiest ideal of this study is to learn about the progression of Alzheimer’s without any genetic testing.”

Professor Lust’s group uses several language testing methods while conducting this study. Whitlock focuses on a technique called Elicited Imitation, where she creates sentences that slightly vary in the specific part of speech she wishes to examine. Then, she will read these sentences aloud to a subject, who will repeat it back after a few moments. Subconsciously, the subject must reconstruct the sentence in their mind before answering.  Read the full story

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