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publicado em 25/07/2013 às 15h10:00
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Alzheimer's patients can talk better with certain stimuli

Research shows that patients USP "lose more words from non-living beings, but speak more prepositions and interjections

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Foto: Marcos Santos/USP Imagens
Healthy elderly and Alzheimer conversations were subjected to 20 minutes
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Healthy elderly and Alzheimer conversations were subjected to 20 minutes

Elderly patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer's have the ability to talk preserved if they are given the right stimuli. The researcher Joy Renne Panduro found this in his PhD in Neuroscience and Behavior (NEC) at the Institute of Psychology (IP), USP, in partnership with the Elderly Program (PROTER) Institute of Psychiatry (IPQ), Faculty of Medicine, USP (USP). Joy language skills tested by the analysis of lexical items commonly used by the elderly sick. This is because people affected by this disease often complain of lack of vocabulary to communicate.

In tests of formal communication they were bad, very bad, but when they talked, responded much better. It seems that they understood more conversations than formal tests, says the researcher, who is a master of language. Initially, his research was to evaluate the use and understanding of verbs and nouns for patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer's, but just considering the adjectives, adverbs, conjunctions, pronouns and prepositions, as well. Joy, directed by Professors Maria Inês Nogueira, NEC, and Cassio Machado de Campos Bottino, IPq concluded that patients with encouraging words that they have preserved, they can communicate and that this stimulus may reactivate temporal areas, parietal and frontal lobes of the brain responsible for memory and language.

The survey found that there is a high use of nouns compared to verbs. Among them, the words that name things more concrete were used and remembered by patients, while abstract nouns were generally off their utterances. Moreover, it was noticed a high use of interjections and prepositions. Joy explains that they lose more words from non-living beings, but speak more prepositions, more interjections. Thus, one way to improve oral communication between caregivers and people with Alzheimer consider these lexical items is more preserved in its language.

The study interviewed 23 patients with Alzheimer's Dementia Clinic of the PROTER and 23 healthy elderly. The latter served as a control to identify the characteristics of linguistic change disease. Before this stage, there was a screening with 50 people in each group. The researcher says that from one step to another, many people passed away or had the clinical picture worsened. The dialogues lasted 20 minutes, and on them were the topics addressed: city, family, education, food, health and religion.

For the statistical part was used Stablex, software that counts the words in a text and list the most frequent and of greater weight in the expression. The Stablex distinguishes the lexicon preferred, basic and differential. Preferred is proper to each person, the basic is usually that everyone has and the differential is different from each Renne explains. He also says that the USP, the technology is often used in linguistic analysis at the Faculty of Philosophy, Letters and Human Sciences (FFLCH), but rarely by health researchers. That was when it was discovered what types of words most used by the elderly who suffer from Alzheimer's.

Joy explains that the pattern of usage of lexical items vary from language to language, from country to country. He met with U.S. and European research and found that patients speaking English, French or German had slightly different results. Because of his research, Joy received a grant from the Alzheimer's Association to go to Boston, in the United States, and present their work in the Alzheimer's Association International Conference (AAIC), which took place on 13th to 18th July this year. The AAIC is the largest annual conference on Alzheimer's disease, and each edition is held in a different country.

   Palavras-chave:   Alzheimer's patients    Alzheimer's    USP    Proter    IPq    Renne Panduro Joy   
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