Development of a Speech-based Composite Score for Remotely Quantifying Language Changes in Frontotemporal Dementia Journal Articles uri icon

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  • Background: Changes to speech and language are common symptoms across different subtypes of frontotemporal dementia (FTD). These changes affect the ability to communicate, impacting everyday functions. Accurately assessing these changes may help clinicians to track disease progression and detect response to treatment. Objective: To determine which aspects of speech show significant change over time and to develop a novel composite score for tracking speech and language decline in individuals with FTD. Method: We recruited individuals with FTD to complete remote digital speech assessments based on a picture description task. Speech samples were analyzed to derive acoustic and linguistic measures of speech and language, which were tested for longitudinal change over the course of the study and were used to compute a novel composite score. Results: Thirty-six (16 F, 20 M; Mage = 61.3 years) individuals were enrolled in the study, with 27 completing a follow-up assessment 12 months later. We identified eight variables reflecting different aspects of language that showed longitudinal decline in the FTD clinical syndrome subtypes and developed a novel composite score based on these variables. The resulting composite score demonstrated a significant effect of change over time, high test–retest reliability, and a correlation with standard scores on various other speech tasks. Conclusion: Remote digital speech assessments have the potential to characterize speech and language abilities in individuals with FTD, reducing the burden of clinical assessments while providing a novel measure of speech and language abilities that is sensitive to disease and relevant to everyday function.


  • Robin, Jessica
  • Xu, Mengdan
  • Kaufman, Liam D
  • Simpson, William
  • McCaughey, Stella
  • Tatton, Nadine
  • Wolfus, Charles
  • Ward, Michael

publication date

  • December 1, 2023