Structural Correlates of Overt Sentence Reading in Mild Cognitive Impairment and Mild-to-Moderate Alzheimer’s Disease

Céline De Looze, Amir Dehsarvi, Narin Suleyman, Lisa Crosby, Belinda Hernández, Robert F Coen, Brian A Lawlor, Richard B Reilly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background:Overt sentence reading in mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and mild-to-moderate Alzheimer’s disease (AD) has been associated with slowness of speech, characterized by a higher number of pauses, shorter speech units and slower speech rate and attributed to reduced working memory/ attention and language capacity.Objective:This preliminary case-control study investigates whether the temporal organization of speech is associated with the volume of brain regions involved in overt sentence reading and explores the discriminative ability of temporal speech parameters and standard volumetric MRI measures for the classification of MCI and AD.Method:Individuals with MCI, mild-to-moderate AD, and healthy controls (HC) had a structural MRI scan and read aloud sentences varying in cognitive-linguistic demand (length). The association between speech features and regional brain volumes was examined by linear mixed-effect modeling. Genetic programming was used to explore the discriminative ability of temporal and MRI features.Results:Longer sentences, slower speech rate, higher number of pauses and shorter interpausal units were associated with reduced volumes of the reading network. Speech-based classifiers performed similarly to the MRI-based classifiers for MCI-HC (67% vs 68%) and slightly better for AD-HC (80% vs 64%) and AD-MCI (82% vs 59%). Adding the speech features to the MRI features slightly improved performance of MRI-based classification for AD-HC and MCI-HC but not HC-MCI.Conclusion:The temporal organization of speech in overt sentence reading reflects underlying volume reductions. It may represent a sensitive marker for early assessment of structural changes and cognitive-linguistic deficits associated with healthy aging, MCI, and AD.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)606-617
Number of pages12
JournalCurrent Alzheimer Research
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 30 Sept 2022


  • Humans
  • Alzheimer Disease/complications
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cognitive Dysfunction/diagnostic imaging
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Language


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