Automated text-level semantic markers of Alzheimer's disease

Camila Sanz, Facundo Carrillo, Andrea Slachevsky, Gonzalo Forno, Maria Luisa Gorno Tempini, Roque Villagra, Agustín Ibáñez, Enzo Tagliazucchi, Adolfo M. García

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Introduction: Automated speech analysis has emerged as a scalable, cost-effective tool to identify persons with Alzheimer's disease dementia (ADD). Yet, most research is undermined by low interpretability and specificity. Methods: Combining statistical and machine learning analyses of natural speech data, we aimed to discriminate ADD patients from healthy controls (HCs) based on automated measures of domains typically affected in ADD: semantic granularity (coarseness of concepts) and ongoing semantic variability (conceptual closeness of successive words). To test for specificity, we replicated the analyses on Parkinson's disease (PD) patients. Results: Relative to controls, ADD (but not PD) patients exhibited significant differences in both measures. Also, these features robustly discriminated between ADD patients and HC, while yielding near-chance classification between PD patients and HCs. Discussion: Automated discourse-level semantic analyses can reveal objective, interpretable, and specific markers of ADD, bridging well-established neuropsychological targets with digital assessment tools.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere12276
JournalAlzheimer's and Dementia: Diagnosis, Assessment and Disease Monitoring
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Alzheimer's disease dementia
  • Parkinson's disease
  • automated speech analysis
  • semantic granularity
  • semantic variability


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