Interpersonal communication as a window into cognitive and socio-emotional functioning in dementia.

Our research aims to provide an objective evaluation of cognitive impairment in MCI and mild-to-moderate AD and related psychosocial outcomes. To do so, it is proposed to characterize interpersonal communication strategies that take place during day-to-day interactions between patients and caregivers (e.g. self-care tasks). This will allow us to determine whether speech characteristics in interactional context can be used as early marker of cognitive impairment. It will also contribute to measure the impact of interpersonal communication on patients’ self-esteem, social engagement and well-being as well as on caregivers’ emotional distress.

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Research Objectives

  1. The first objective is to characterise the interpersonal communication strategies used by older individuals with non-amnesic MCI and with mild-to-moderate AD and their caregivers. It is hypothesized that patients may experience difficulties in adapting their speech and managing turn-taking due to cognitive impairment. As a result, patients and caregivers may use compensatory strategies to enhance communication.
  2. The second objective is to determine whether patients’ communication skills can be used as objective markers of cognitive impairment. It will establish if patients’ adaptation and compensatory strategies are related to cognitive impairment and brain atrophy.
  3. The third objective is to evaluate the impact of interpersonal communication strategies on patients’ self- esteem, social engagement and well-being and on caregivers’ emotional distress. It is hypothesised that coping strategies enable the completion of a defined task and promote a patients’ psychosocial states (and as a result a caregivers’ distress) when the caregiver’s adaptation levels match the patient’s needs.


We use advanced speech analysis methods to extract key temporal characteristics from acoustic speech data during interactional conversations.  By relating these to clinical standard measures of cognitive function we can investigate the interaction between speech characteristics and cognitive

We also use neuroimaging data from our subjects to relate objective anatomical measures of brain function to the speech characteristics. This allow us to probe in influence of changes in anatomical measures on speech characteristics.

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