Speech-Disrupting Brain Disease (Primary Progressive Aphasia), Reflects Patients’ Native Tongue, UCSF/San Raffaele Study Finds ; Dementia-Related Language Symptoms Differ in Italian and English Speakers

English and Italian speakers with dementia-related language impairment experience distinct kinds of speech and reading difficulties based on features of their native languages, according to new research by scientists at the University of California SanFrancisco (UCSF) Memory and Aging Center (https://memory.ucsf.edu/) and colleagues at the Neuroimaging Research Unit and Neurology Unit at the San Raffaele Scientific Institute in Milan, Italy. Neurologists had long assumed that brain diseases that impact language abilities would manifest in essentially the same way in patients around the world. But recent discoveries have begun to challenge that assumption. For instance, Italian speakers with dyslexia tend to have less severe reading impairment than English or French speakers due to Italian's simpler and more phonetic spelling. "Clinical criteria for diagnosing disorders that affect behavior and language are still mainly based on studies of English speakers and Western cultures, which could lead to misdiagnosis if people who speak different languages or come from another cultural background express symptoms differently," said study senior author Maria Luisa Gorno-Tempini (photo), MD, PhD, a Professor of Neurology and Psychiatry and the Charles Schwab Distinguished Professor in Dyslexia and Neurodevelopment at the UCSF Memory and Aging Center.
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