Dement Neurocogn Disord.  2021 Oct;20(4):52-61. 10.12779/dnd.2021.20.4.52.

A Comparison of Speech Features between Mild Cognitive Impairment and Healthy Aging Groups

  • 1Department of Neurology, Jeonbuk National University Medical School and Hospital, Jeonju, Korea
  • 2Research Institute of Clinical Medicine of Jeonbuk National University-Biomedical Research Institute of Jeonbuk National University Hospital, Jeonju, Korea
  • 3Department of Computer Science, Jeonbuk National University, Jeonju, Korea
  • 4Department of Psychiatry, Jeonbuk National University Medical School and Hospital, Jeonju, Korea


Background and Purpose
Language dysfunction is a symptom common to patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD). Speech feature analysis may be a patient-friendly screening test for early-stage AD. We aimed to investigate the speech features of amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI) compared to normal controls (NCs).
Spoken responses to test questions were recorded with a microphone placed 15 cm in front of each participant. Speech samples delivered in response to four spoken test prompts (free speech test, Mini-Mental State Examination [MMSE], picture description test, and sentence repetition test) were obtained from 98 patients with aMCI and 139 NCs. Each recording was transcribed, with speech features noted. The frequency of the ten speech features assessed was evaluated to compare speech abilities between the test groups.
Among the ten speech features, the frequency of pauses (p=0.001) and mumbles (p=0.001) were significantly higher in patients with aMCI than in NCs. Moreover, MMSE score was found to negatively correlate with the frequency of pauses (r=−0.441, p<0.001) and mumbles (r=−0.341, p<0.001).
Frequent pauses and mumbles reflect cognitive decline in aMCI patients in episodic and semantic memory tests. Speech feature analysis may prove to be a speech-based biomarker for screening early-stage cognitive impairment.


Alzheimer Disease; Biomarkers; Mild Cognitive Impairment; Speech Disorders
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