What can you tell us speaking about our disease

As researchers found, features and specific speech disorders can help in the diagnosis of Parkinson's disease, als and schizophrenia to laboratory research. It was in the pages of Scientific American said the doctor, linguist Anne Peach (Anne Pycha). Present the main points of her article.

Recent studies confirm that what we say and how we say it, may contain information about an approaching disease. Currently, several groups neurogenic, psychiatrists and programmers are investigating whether the features of speech and specific speech disorders of the patient give clues to doctors about the existence of certain diseases before the diagnosis was confirmed by laboratory investigations.

Such studies were made possible by the increasing power of computers and the emergence of new ways of measuring relationships between behavior and brain activity. And, although the tests, analyzing the oral speech may not be as accurate as genetic sequencing or MRI, the study of peculiarities of the language can fill this gap in the definition of diseases do not have a clear biological indicators.

Here are some of the ongoing studies today that relate to psychosis, schizophrenia and amiotroficheskom lateral sclerosis.


Psychiatrists at Columbia University interviewed 34 young people to detect risk of psychosis and General symptoms of schizophrenia that include delusions and hallucinations. Two and a half years ago, five of the respondents had developed psychosis, the other 29 had no symptoms of the disease.

Specially developed algorithm analyzed all the interviews to find speech features that differ between the two groups. The results of the analysis showed that psychosis is correlated with the use of shorter sentences, loss of meaning in the flow of from offer to offer and more rare use of the word "that", "what" and "which".

A computer program, later analyzed each individual interview, identified with 100% accuracy who had developed psychosis, and who is not. Recently, these results were published in the journal "Schizophrenia", now under the second phase of research with other people who are at risk.

Parkinson's Disease

In the study, Argentine University of Favaloro 27 people listened to prerecorded sentences containing verbs denoting various actions (e.g. "applaud" or "to strike"). As soon as participants understood the sentence, they pressed the button, holding the palm of your hand straightened or squeezing them into a fist.

Healthy subjects answered faster when the verb and the position of the hand correspond to each other (outstretched palm in the case of the verb "to applaud" and the fist with the verb "to strike"), acting more slowly in the case that the verb and action do not coincide.

However, the response of subjects diagnosed with early stage Parkinson's disease in both cases was equally slow.

Such separation may serve as an early sign of the disease until serious problems and symptoms. Now scientists are conducting a similar study with people who are currently healthy but have a genetic mutation associated with Parkinson's disease.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (als)

Usually BASS is characterized by motor disorders, which some patients can lead to specific disorders of speech due to muscle weakness. As shown by a new study conducted at the University of Pennsylvania under the leadership of Sharon Ash, Parkinson's disease can also affect the use of grammatical forms.

The study involved 45 respondents. They were asked in their own words to describe events, presented in a series of 24 photos. In comparison with the representatives of the healthy control group, patients with als used a less complete sentences ("He's angry because it's..."), most missed the defining word ("the Owl flew around...") and made more errors in the use of times (And the deer to throw him off a cliff").

The MRI results showed that people who made more grammatical errors, also have violations in the area of the brain responsible for speech.

Presumably, such a grammatical analysis can be a relatively simple method of diagnosing the onset of the disease and its severity.

In the ongoing in the study by Ash and her colleagues analyzed more than short statements of the patients about the single image.


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