Department of Psycholinguistics, Neurolinguistics and Sociolinguistics, Research Institute for Linguistics of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences , Budapest , Hungary
Changes in temporal features of speech in secondary progressive multiple sclerosis (SPMS) - case studies
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic inflammatory disease which, in addition to affecting motor and cognitive functions, may involve language disorders. Despite the importance of speech and language disorders in the quality of life of patients, there are only a few studies about language and speech production difficulties in MS. The aim of this research is to describe the limitation patterns of speech and temporal characteristics of the suprasegmental level in two SPMS cases related to various types of spontaneous speech tasks. We assumed the change of the cognitive load has a greater effect on spontaneous speech in MS patients than in controls. Two SPMS patients, and two sex-, age- and education matched healthy controls were studied. We applied verbal fluency tests (phonemic, episodic, semantic, verb), digit span test, non-word repetition test, Corsi Block Tapping Test, Stroop Colour and Word Test, and Trail Making Test. Token Test was used to measure speech comprehension. The four speech tasks required relatively different degrees of cognitive effort: (a) spontaneous narrative about own life; (b) event description; (c) picture description; (d) narrative recall. Our results show that there are differences between MS patients and controls: MS patients produced slower speech and articulation rate, and they had more and longer pauses in every speech task. Speech tasks and the degree of the cognitive load had a greater effect on MS patients than on control speakers.
Gonda Multidisciplinary Brain Research Center, Bar-Ilan University, Ramat Gan, Israel
Association Between White Matter Microstructure and Verbal Fluency in Patients With Multiple Sclerosis.
Verbal fluency refers to the ability to generate words quickly and efficiently according to predefined phonological or semantic criteria. Deficits in verbal fluency limit patients' ability to communicate effectively and to function well in social setups. Multiple sclerosis (MS) patients suffer from various cognitive impairments, and some of them experience language deficits as well. The goal of this study is to examine the contribution of the dorsal and ventral language pathways to verbal fluency in MS patients. All patients (N = 33) underwent diffusion MRI (dMRI) and fluency measurements. Diffusion parameters were calculated along dorsal and ventral language-related pathways and their right-hemispheric homologs, identified individually in each patient. Significant correlations were found between fluency measures and mean fractional anisotropy (FA) in several pathways, including the left fronto-temporal arcuate fasciculus (AFft), bilateral inferior fronto-occipital fasciculus (IFOF), and bilateral frontal aslant tract. Along-tract correlations revealed a more selective pattern of associations: letter-based fluency was associated with FA in a segment of the left AFft (dorsal pathway), while category-based fluency was associated with FA in a segment of the right IFOF (ventral pathway). The observed pattern of associations, mapping letter-based fluency to the dorsal stream and category-based fluency to the ventral stream, fits well within the dual stream framework of language processing. Further studies will be necessary to assess whether these associations generalize to the typical adult population or whether they are tied to the clinical state.
Discipline of Speech Pathology, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Sydneyt, Lidcombe, Sydney
Prevalence of self-reported language impairment in multiple sclerosis and the association with health-related quality of life: An international survey study.
Language impairment has only recently begun to be considered a clinical manifestation of MS. A decline in language abilities can lead to restricted participation in everyday activities that require communication, including vocational, social, and educational contexts.
The objectives of this study were to identify the prevalence and nature of self-reported language impairment in MS using a validated MS-specific patient-reported outcome measure and to determine the association with health-related quality of life (HRQoL) and demographic and clinical variables.
In this cross-sectional study, 160 persons with MS completed the language items of the Speech pathology-specific questionnaire for persons with MS (SMS) to assess language and the 12-Item Short Form Survey (SF-12) to assess HRQoL. Participants were recruited internationally through professional MS bodies and support groups and completed all questionnaires online.
75% of persons with MS in this sample self-reported a language impairment. Of the total sample, 65.7% reported difficulty with word retrieval, 53.8% reported difficulty with expressive language, 49.4% reported difficulty with confrontational naming, and 40.6% reported difficulty with receptive language in spoken discourse. Statistical analyses revealed that age, sex, educational status, country of residence, disease duration, age at time of diagnosis, MS subtype, and medication management, were not associated with the prevalence of self-reported language impairment. Participants with self-reported language impairment had lower HRQoL than those without language impairment, scoring lower on both the SF-12 mental and physical component summary scores, with medium to large effect sizes (Cohen's d = 0.66 - 0.83). Participants with self-reported language impairment had higher rates of unemployment than those without language impairment (χ2 = 18.2; p < 0.001).
Language can be compromised in persons with MS regardless of clinical and demographic characteristics and is associated with lower HRQoL. These findings indicate that frontline healthcare providers need to be aware of potential language impairment in MS and should make timely referrals to speech pathologists for further evaluation and support. Further research is needed to investigate the underlying neural mechanisms of language impairment in MS. In future, this will help guide the design of evidence-based intervention for these symptoms.
Department of Circuit Theory, Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Czech Technical University in Prague, Prague, Czech Republic
Characterizing Vocal Tremor in Progressive Neurological Diseases via Automated Acoustic Analyses
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/3214609 ... -analyses/
Objective: Voice tremor represents a common but frequently overlooked clinical feature of neurological disease. Therefore, we aimed to quantitatively and objectively assess the characteristics of voice tremor in a large sample of patients with various progressive neurological diseases.
Methods: Voice samples were acquired from 240 patients with neurological disease and 40 healthy controls. The robust automated method was designed, allowing precise tracking of multiple tremor frequencies and distinguish pathological from the physiological tremor.
Results: Abnormal tremor was revealed in Huntington's disease (65%), essential tremor (50%), multiple system atrophy (40%), cerebellar ataxia (40%), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (40%), progressive supranuclear palsy (25%), Parkinson's disease (20%), cervical dystonia (10%), and multiple sclerosis (8%) but not in controls. Low-frequency voice tremor (<4 Hz) was common in all investigated diseases, whereas medium tremor frequencies (4-7 Hz) were specific for movement disorders of Parkinson's disease, multiple system atrophy, essential tremor, and cervical dystonia.
Conclusions: Careful estimation of vocal tremor may help with accurate diagnosis and tailored treatment.
Significance: This study provides (i) more insights into the pathophysiology of vocal tremor in a wide range of neurological diseases and (ii) an accurate method for estimation of vocal tremor suitable for clinical practice.
Clinical Functional Exploration Laboratory of the Movement, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, University Hospital Center of Besançon, France
What (More) Can Verbal Fluency Tell Us About Multiple Sclerosis?
Background: Clinical symptoms of multiple sclerosis (MS) are variable and may include cognitive impairment, which can be assessed with the verbal fluency test (VFT). This test is evaluated by counting words spoken during a 2-min period, which is not a functional approach. Ojbective. The objectives of this observational study were to 1) determine new parameters that reflect communication and cognitive functions in persons with multiple sclerosis (PwMS) considering the evaluation of real-time word production in the VFT; 2) compare the results with those of a control group; and 3) evaluate the impact of including errors.
Methods: A phonological fluency test ("letter P") and a semantic fluency test ("animals") were used. The real-time word production was recorded. The main variables studied were the total number of words, first word delay, moment of inflection of the curve corresponding to the change in the cognitive process, speed of word production before inflection, and maximum delay between 2 consecutive words. These variables were studied by taking into account or not errors.
Results: We included 68 PwMS and 33 healthy controls. VFT results were impaired in PwMS. The total number of words, first word delay, speed before inflection, and maximum delay were relevant to the study of phonologic fluency. For studying semantic fluency, the total number of words, first word delay, speed before inflection, and inflection time of the curve seemed relevant. Taking into account errors was significant only for total number of words.
Conclusion: Taking into account errors in evaluating real-time word production in PwMS is of interest only for the total number of words performed but has no impact on the variables studied. These variables should be used to quantitatively evaluate verbal fluency with the objective of evaluating functionally relevant parameters (communication).
Centre for Neuroscience of Speech, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia
Acoustic Speech Analytics Are Predictive of Cerebellar Dysfunction in Multiple Sclerosis
Speech production relies on motor control and cognitive processing and is linked to cerebellar function. In diseases where the cerebellum is impaired, such as multiple sclerosis (MS), speech abnormalities are common and can be detected by instrumental assessments. However, the potential of speech assessments to be used to monitor cerebellar impairment in MS remains unexplored. The aim of this study is to build an objectively measured speech score that reflects cerebellar function, pathology and quality of life in MS. Eighty-five people with MS and 21 controls participated in the study. Speech was independently assessed through objective acoustic analysis and blind expert listener ratings. Cerebellar function and overall disease disability were measured through validated clinical scores; cerebellar pathology was assessed via magnetic resonance imaging, and validated questionnaires informed quality of life. Selected speech variables were entered in a regression model to predict cerebellar function. The resulting model was condensed into one composite speech score and tested for prediction of abnormal 9-hole peg test (9HPT), and for correlations with the remaining cerebellar scores, imaging measurements and self-assessed quality of life. Slow rate of syllable repetition and increased free speech pause percentage were the strongest predictors of cerebellar impairment, complemented by phonatory instability. Those variables formed the acoustic composite score that accounted for 54% of variation in cerebellar function, correlated with cerebellar white matter volume (r = 0.3, p = 0.017), quality of life (r = 0.5, p < 0.001) and predicted an abnormal 9HPT with 85% accuracy. An objective multi-feature speech metric was highly representative of motor cerebellar impairment in MS.
Neuroscience Discovery Program, Biomedicine Discovery Institute, Department of Physiology, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia
Speech discrimination impairments as a marker of disease severity in multiple sclerosis
Background: Multiple Sclerosis (MS) pathology is likely to disrupt central auditory pathways, thereby affecting an individual's ability to discriminate speech from noise. Despite the importance of speech discrimination in daily communication, it's characterization in the context of MS remains limited. This cross-sectional study evaluated speech discrimination in MS under "real world" conditions where sentences were presented in ecologically valid multi-talker speech or broadband noise at several signal-to-noise ratios (SNRs).
Methods: Pre-recorded Bamford-Kowal-Bench sentences were presented at five signal-to-noise ratios (SNR) in one of two background noises: speech-weighted noise and eight-talker babble. All auditory stimuli were presented via headphones to control (n = 38) and MS listeners with mild (n = 20), moderate (n = 16) and advanced (n = 10) disability. Disability was quantified by the Kurtzke Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) and scored by a neurologist. All participants passed a routine audiometric examination.
Results: Despite normal hearing, MS psychometric discrimination curves which model the relationship between signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) and sentence discrimination accuracy in speech-weighted noise and babble did not change in slope (sentences/dB) but shifted to higher SNRs (dB) compared to controls. The magnitude of the shift in the curve systematically increased with greater disability. Furthermore, mixed-effects models identified EDSS score as the most significant predictor of speech discrimination in noise (odds ratio = 0.81; p < 0.001). Neither age, sex, disease phenotype or disease duration were significantly associated with speech discrimination performance in noise. Only MS listeners with advanced disability self-reported audio-attentional difficulty in a questionnaire designed to reflect auditory processing behaviours in daily life.
Conclusion: Speech discrimination performance worsened systematically with greater disability, independent of age, sex, education, disease duration or disease phenotype. These results identify novel auditory processing deficits in MS and highlight that speech discrimination tasks may provide a viable non-invasive and sensitive means for disease monitoring in MS.
Trinity Centre for Biomedical Engineering, Trinity College, The University of Dublin, Ireland
Association between speech rate measures and cognitive function in people with relapsing and progressive multiple sclerosis
Background: Cognitive impairments are well-documented in multiple sclerosis (MS), while speech impairments are often overlooked despite their significant effect on quality of life. For effective clinical management of multisystem conditions such as MS, consideration should be given to the interaction between deficits in multiple domains, such as speech and cognition. To evaluate speech rate measures of spontaneous and read speech, in people with MS and to examine the link between speech and cognition.
Methods: Forty-five people with MS and 25 controls underwent an extensive cognitive battery, including executive functioning, information processing and memory tasks, and completed two speech tasks: a reading task and a picture description task, from which speech rate measures were derived.
Results: The progressive MS cohort had reduced articulation (p < 0.04) and speech rate (p < 0.02) compared to controls and those with relapsing MS. Regression models also revealed information processing speed accounted for 18% to 30% of the variance of spontaneous speech rate measures, and 27% of read speech. Executive functioning accounted for a further 10% of the variance of speech rate in those with MS.
Conclusions: The present study suggests that speech production is contingent on cognitive ability, with information processing speed and executive functioning linked with speech timing patterns.