Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease are both common in the elderly. A study by Sona Patel, professor at Seton Hall University in New Jersey, US, may soon help doctors diagnose patients with Alzheimer's disease over the phone, just by listening to their voices.
Patel received a $380,000 grant from the National Institute of Deafness and Communicative Disorders to conduct a study on the vocal impacts of the neurological disorder. She said, "My research would take forward previous studies that indicated differences in voice patterns between normally aging adults, and those with Parkinson's disease. Your voice is really important. You react to (stimuli) with your voice automatically, without even realizing it. Now, the question is if we can use (voices) to indicate other neurological disorders."
Patel further added that the symptoms in the early stages of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease are very similar. She said, "By the time the disease has progressed enough to be properly diagnosed, there is not much you can do. If my study finds changes in voice patterns, it could be possible to develop non-invasive and less expensive methods to detect whether or not a person in the early stages of a disease has Parkinson's or Alzheimer's. The test would be simple to administer, and could even potentially be done over the phone."
Patel is using electroencephalogram (EEG) and auditory feedback to determine how Alzheimer's patients respond to various speech tasks, and if their responses differ from those of Parkinson's patients.