Language Performance Of Individuals At Risk For Mild Cognitive Impairment

ASU Author/Contributor (non-ASU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Erin Bouldin, Assistant Professor, PhD (Creator)
Kim McCullough Ph.D, Associate Professor, Speech Language Pathology (Contributor)
Appalachian State University (ASU )
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Abstract: Evidence exists that changes in language performance may be an early indicator of mild cognitive impairment (MCI), often a harbinger of dementing disease. The purpose of this study was the evaluation of language performance in individuals at risk for MCI by virtue of age and self-concern and its relation to performance on tests of memory, visuospatial function, and mental status. Eighty-three individuals 55 years or older were administered the Arizona Battery for Communication Disorders of Dementia (Bayles & Tomoeda, 1993), a standardized battery with normative data from 86 healthy older adults (HOAs) and 86 individuals with Alzheimer's dementia, the most common dementing disease. A performance criterion of 1–1.5 SDs below the mean of HOAs defined MCI, as recommended in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition. We hypothesized that (a) the majority of at-risk participants would score 1 SD or more below the mean of HOAs on 1 or more subtests and (b) language performance tests would present a greater challenge than memory, mental status, and visuospatial construction tests. Both hypotheses were confirmed. Sixty-two participants (74.6%) met the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, criteria on at least 1 subtest. Moreover, language subtests were those most likely to elicit a performance 1 SD or more below the mean of HOAs. Language performance deficits can appear early before impairment in episodic memory, visuospatial construction ability, or mental status in individuals at risk for MCI. Speech-language pathologists are uniquely qualified to identify subtle changes in language, and standardized language tests with normative data should be used when testing for MCI.

Additional Information

McCullough, Kim C., Bayles, Kathryn A., Bouldin, Erin D. (2018). Language Performance of Individuals at Risk for Mild Cognitive Impairment. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, Vol. 62, No. 3. March 2019, pages 706-722. Publisher version of record available at:
Language: English
Date: 2019
mild cognitive impairment (MCI), language performance, early detection, early identification, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, Alzheimer’s disease, episodic memory, construction ability

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