Connected Language in Primary Progressive Aphasia: Testing the Utility of Linguistic Measures in Differentially Diagnosing PPA and its Variants

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Difficulty in using language is the primary impairment in Primary Progressive Aphasia (PPA). Individuals with different variants of PPA have been shown to have unequal deficits in various domains of language; however, little research has focused on finding common deficits in PPA that could aid in the differential diagnosis of PPA relative to healthy aging and age-related neurogenerative conditions. The commonality of deficits in variants of PPA was explored in this study by examining the connected speech of 26 individuals with PPA (10 with PPA-G, 9 with PPA-L, 7 with PPA-S), compared to 25 neurologically healthy controls, 20 individuals with Mild Cognitive Impairments (MCI), and 20 individuals with Alzheimer’s Dementia (AD). Measures of fluency, word retrieval, and syntax were used to assess linguistic ability in a between-groups comparison, in addition to a within-groups comparison of the same linguistic measures among specific PPA variants. It was found that participants with PPA showed significant deficits on certain measures of fluency, word retrieval, and syntax. These findings support the idea that a brief language sample has clinical utility in contributing to the differential diagnosis of PPA.