Rochon, Elizabeth ABlack, Sandra E; Leonard, Carol L
University of Toronto
Towards a better understanding of the language impairment and neural basis of primary progressive aphasia: A longitudinal study
Alzheimer's disease & other dementias
A significant minority of (mainly) elderly people will develop dementia, which is progressive decline in intellectual functions (e.g., thinking,memory, reasoning). In some types of dementia, language is the earliest and most affected ability, and there is progressive deterioration in both production (speaking and writing) and comprehension. This disorder is called primary progressive aphasia (PPA)and is the focus of this study. Although difficulty with spoken language is a critical and disabling deficit, there has been remarkably little study of speech in people suffering from progressive aphasia. The goals of the this study are 1)to better characterize the language and motor speech impairments in the variants of PPA particularly with respect to sentence processing and connected speech; 2)to correlate patterns of performance (particularly language) and motor speech impairment with measures of brain atrophy (we will use two types of scans: magnetic resonance imaging, which provides clear detailed pictures of the brain tissue, and diffusion tensor imaging which reveals the networks of the fibers connecting different areas of the brain; 3) to improve early diagnosis and differentiation; 4) to identify measures which are sensitive to the deficits and may be suitable for clinical use. This work will improve our understanding of the neuroanatomical basis of language and speech processing in health and disease. It is also hoped that the findings will identify suitable goals for therapy supporting functional autonomy in these patient populations.