Early cognitive decline may manifest in subtle differences in speech.
We examined 238 cognitively unimpaired adults from the Framingham Heart Study (32–75 years) who completed amyloid and tau PET imaging. Speech patterns during delayed recall of a story memory task were quantified via five speech markers, and their associations with global amyloid status and regional tau signal were examined.
Total utterance time, number of between-utterance pauses, speech rate, and percentage of unique words significantly correlated with delayed recall score although the shared variance was low (2%–15%). Delayed recall score was not significantly different between β-amyoid-positive (Aβ+) and -negative (Aβ−) groups and was not associated with regional tau signal. However, longer and more between-utterance pauses, and slower speech rate were associated with increased tau signal across medial temporal and early neocortical regions.
Subtle speech changes during memory recall may reflect cognitive impairment associated with early Alzheimer’s disease pathology.

Speech during delayed memory recall relates to tau PET signal across adulthood.
Delayed memory recall score was not associated with tau PET signal.
Speech shows greater sensitivity to detecting subtle cognitive changes associated with early tau accumulation.
Our cohort spans adulthood, while most PET imaging studies focus on older adults.

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This post is Copyright: Christina B. Young,
Viktorija Smith,
Cody Karjadi,
Selah‐Marie Grogan,
Ting Fang Alvin Ang,
Philip S. Insel,
Victor W. Henderson,
Meghan Sumner,
Kathleen L. Poston,
Rhoda Au,
Elizabeth C. Mormino | February 13, 2024

Wiley: Alzheimer’s & Dementia: Table of Contents