Language in the Preclinical State of Alzheimer´s Disease

In this subproject, the differences and changes in the linguistic abilities of older adults over the long term are examined. The focus is on the specification of the cognitive achievements and socially determined factors with regard to linguistic resources on the level of lexicon, syntax and innertextual chaining structures. The purpose is to elaborate prototypical indicators for normal ageing and/or pathological ageing at the linguistic surface with topic and context stability in the narratives of the ILSE-study subjects that developed Alzheimer's disease (AD) and those that remained healthy.


Spoken language is examined with different linguistic criteria on the basis of semi-standardized biographic interviews from the ILSE-study and analysed for inter- and intra-individual differences. The project will examine whether differences in the linguistic abilities of study participants that developed Alzheimer's and those that remained healthy already existed in the preclinical stages. It will consider further factors in the range of other cognitive abilities and social factors which may be related to linguistic ability.

The project examines two central questions:

1.) Which linguistic attributes could potentially be an indicator for AD?

2.) Are poor linguistic abilities early symptoms of AD or an expression of limited cognitive reserve?


The identification and differentiation of deficits within language as a complex and multi-layered cognitive ability can improve the clinical diagnosis of cognitive impairments and AD. Classifying linguistic divergences as either an early symptom of Alzheimer's disease or a sign of low cognitive reserve is important for the understanding of the cognitive ageing process. The linguistic knowledge resulting from the project can contribute to the early detection of poor cognitive development and to the development of suitable preventive and training measures.



B. Wendelstein, J. Schröder & E. Felder

Editor: office
Latest Revision: 2011-06-21