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Dementia & Neuropsychologia

Print version ISSN 1980-5764

Dement. neuropsychol. vol.8 no.3 São Paulo Sept. 2014

http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S1980-57642014DN83000010 

Original Articles

Analysis of word number and content in discourse of patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease

Análise do número de palavras e do conteúdo no discurso de pacientes com doença de Alzheimer leve e moderada

Juliana Onofre de Lira 1  

Thaís Soares Cianciarullo Minett 2  

Paulo Henrique Ferreira Bertolucci 3  

Karin Zazo Ortiz 4  

1PhD. Speech Therapist, Department of Speech Therapy, Federal University of São Paulo, SP, Brazil

2M.D, PhD. Senior Researcher. University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK

3M.D, PhD. Professor, Sector of Behavioral Neurology, Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery, Federal University of São Paulo, SP, Brazil

4Speech Therapist, PhD. Professor, Department of Speech Therapy, Federal University of São Paulo, São Paulo, SP, Brazil

ABSTRACT

Alzheimer's disease (AD) is characterized by impairments in memory and other cognitive functions such as language, which can be affected in all aspects including discourse. A picture description task is considered an effective way of obtaining a discourse sample whose key feature is the ability to retrieve appropriate lexical items. There is no consensus on findings showing that performance in content processing of spoken discourse deteriorates from the mildest phase of AD.

OBJECTIVE:

To compare the quantity and quality of discourse among patients with mild to moderate AD and controls.

METHODS:

A cross-sectional study was designed. Subjects aged 50 years and older of both sexes, with one year or more of education, were divided into three groups: control (CG), mild AD (ADG1) and moderate AD (ADG2). Participants were asked to describe the "cookie theft" picture. The total number of complete words spoken and information units (IU) were included in the analysis.

RESULTS

There was no significant difference among groups in terms of age, schooling and sex. For number of words spoken, the CG performed significantly better than both the ADG 1 and ADG2, but no difference between the two latter groups was found. CG produced almost twice as many information units as the ADG1 and more than double that of the ADG2. Moreover, ADG2 patients had worse performance on IUs compared to the ADG1.

CONCLUSION

Decreased performance in quantity and content of discourse was evident in patients with AD from the mildest phase, but only content (IU) continued to worsen with disease progression.

Key words: Alzheimer's disease; dementia; language

RESUMO

Doença de Alzheimer (DA) é caracterizada por prejuízo na memória e em outras funções cognitivas, como a linguagem, que pode ser afetada em todos os aspectos, incluindo o discurso. Tarefa de descrição de figura é considerada uma forma eficaz de obter amostra de discurso cuja característica fundamental é a capacidade de recuperar itens lexicais adequados. Não há consenso nos achados sobre deterioração no desempenho do conteúdo do discurso na fase leve da DA.

OBJETIVO:

Comparar a quantidade e a qualidade do conteúdo do discurso em pacientes com DA leve, moderada e controles.

MÉTODOS:

Foi feito um estudo transversal cuja amostra foi composta por indivíduos a partir de 50 anos, de ambos os sexos, com um ou mais anos de escolaridade. Foram divididos em três grupos: controle (GC), DA leve (ADG1) e DA moderada (ADG2) e a eles foi solicitado descrever a "prancha do roubo dos biscoitos". Considerados na análise o número total de palavras completas faladas e o de unidades de informação (UI).

RESULTADOS:

Não houve diferença significativa entre os grupos. Para o número de palavras, o CG apresentou desempenho significativamente melhor que AD1 e AD2, não houve diferença entre os dois últimos grupos. O GC produziu quase o dobro de unidades de informação em relação ao ADG1 e mais que o dobro do que ADG2. Além disso, o ADG2 apresentou pior desempenho nas UI em comparação ao ADG1.

CONCLUSÃO:

Foi observado um evidente prejuízo no desempenho quanto à quantidade e ao conteúdo do discurso em pacientes com DA a partir da fase leve. Entretanto apenas o conteúdo continuou a se agravar com a progressão da doença.

Palavras-Chave: doença de Alzheimer; demência; linguagem

Texto completo disponível apenas em PDF.

Full text available only in PDF format.

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Received: May 15, 2014; Accepted: July 22, 2014

Juliana Onofre de Lira. Rua Itapura de Miranda 45/82 - 11055-090 Santos SP - Brazil. E-mail: julianalira31.fono@gmail.com

Disclosure: The authors report no conflicts of interest.

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