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Neural correlates in low-SES women with Alzheimer’s (Malcorra et al., 2023)

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posted on 2023-12-29, 21:51 authored by Bárbara Luzia Covatti Malcorra, Alberto Osa García, Karine Marcotte, Hanna de Paz, Lucas Porcello Schilling, Irênio Gomes da Silva Filho, Ricardo Soder, Alexandre da Rosa Franco, Fernanda Loureiro, Lilian Cristine Hübner

Purpose: Early impairments in spoken discourse abilities have been identified in Alzheimer’s disease (AD). However, the impact of AD on spoken discourse and the associated neuroanatomical correlates have mainly been studied in populations with higher levels of education, although preliminary evidence seems to indicate that socioeconomic status (SES) and level of education have an impact on spoken discourse. The purpose of this study was to analyze microstructural variables in spoken discourse in people with AD with low-to-middle SES and low level of education and to study their association with gray matter (GM) density.

Method: Nine women with AD and 10 matched (age, SES, and education) women without brain injury (WWBI) underwent a neuropsychological assessment, which included two spoken discourse tasks, and structural magnetic resonance imaging. Microstructural variables were extracted from the discourse samples using NILC-Metrix software. Brain density, measured by voxel-based morphometry, was compared between groups and then correlated with the differentiating microstructural variables.

Results: The AD group produced a lower diversity of verbal time moods and fewer words and sentences than WWBI but a greater diversity of pronouns, prepositions, and lexical richness. At the neural level, the AD group presented a lower GM density bilaterally in the hippocampus, the inferior temporal gyrus, and the anterior cingulate gyrus. Number of words and sentences produced were associated with GM density in the left parahippocampal gyrus, whereas the diversity of verbal moods was associated with the basal ganglia and the anterior cingulate gyrus bilaterally.

Conclusions: The present findings are mainly consistent with previous studies conducted in groups with higher levels of SES and education, but they suggest that atrophy in the left inferior temporal gyrus could be critical in AD in populations with lower levels of SES and education. This research provides evidence on the importance of pursuing further studies including people with various SES and education levels.

What Is Already Known on This Subject: Spoken discourse has been shown to be affected in Alzheimer disease, but most studies have been conducted on individuals with middle-to-high SES and high educational levels.

What This Study Adds: The study reports on microstructural measures of spoken discourse in groups of women in the early stage of AD and healthy women, with low-to-middle SES and lower levels of education.

Clinical Implications of This Study: This study highlights the importance of taking into consideration the SES and education level in spoken discourse analysis and in investigating the neural correlates of AD.

Supplemental Material S1. Flow diagram of the study recruitment.

Supplemental Material S2. Mean descriptive data and statistical results of the microlinguistic variables extracted from discourse samples distinguishing the AD and the WWBI groups.

Malcorra, B. L. C., García, A. O., Marcotte, K., de Paz, H., Schilling, L. P., Filho, I. G. d. S., Soder, R., Franco, A. d. R., Loureiro, F., & Hübner, L. C. (2023). Exploring spoken discourse and its neural correlates in women with Alzheimer’s disease with low levels of education and socioeconomic status. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology. Advance online publication.


This study was financially supported by grants received by Lilian Cristine Hübner: CNPq (National Council of Technologic and Scientific Development) Universal Grants 479989/2013-3 and 4524362508342994-28/2018 and grants as productivity researcher, Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado do Rio Grande do Sul-Program for Internationalization of Graduate Education Grant 0429-2551/14-5, and CAPES (Coordination of Superior Level Staff Improvement). Bárbara Luzia Covatti Malcorra held a CNPq doctoral scholarship #140436/2018-9. Alberto Osa García holds a doctoral scholarship from Fonds de recherche Québec-Santé. Hanna de Paz received a PREMIER grant from Université de Montréal for a research summer internship.