Hearing is believing: Speech may be a clue to mental decline

 

A study suggests that changes to your speech may indicate you’re developing thinking problems. More pauses, filler words and other verbal changes might be an early sign of mental decline, which can lead to Alzheimer’s disease.

Researchers had people describe a picture they were shown in taped sessions two years apart. Those with early-stage mild cognitive impairment slid much faster on certain verbal skills than those who didn’t develop thinking problems. It’s more than the occasional “um” or trouble recalling names that plagues many people as they age.

If confirmed, the work at the University of Wisconsin in Madison suggests that speech analysis might be a way to help screen people for very early signs of mental decline.

Results were discussed Monday at an Alzheimer’s conference in London.

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