Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a neurodegenerative disease in which damage to the central nervous system accumulates over a long period of time and leads to impairments in several cognitive domains, for example episodic memory. Language impairments, including writing disorders, are also common. The complexity of spoken and written language is reduced and a correlation between low syntactic complexity and cognitive decline has been observed in retrospective studies. A prospective, longitudinal study is needed to evaluate syntactic complexity as a clinical marker of AD and to investigate the relationships between syntactic complexity, neuroradiological changes and neurocognitive functions.
The overall aim of the project is to evaluate the connection between syntactic complexity measured by computer-based, automated analysis methods and cognitive decline in AD. Participants with 'mild cognitive impairment' and 'subjective cognitive impairment' are of primary interest in this study as possible prodromes of AD; they have subjective and/or objective cognitive symptoms but do not fulfill the diagnostic criteria for dementia. A longitudinal follow-up is planned after approximately four years to evaluate syntactic complexity as a predictor of cognitive decline in AD. Neuroradiological correlates in two stratified groups (high vs low syntactic complexity) will be investigated and the validity of the syntactic complexity measurements will be evaluated based on the possible correlation with measures of cognitive function.