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Voice Patterns May Reveal Hidden Alzheimer’s for Early Detection: Indian Origin Scientist

Alzheimer's disease

Alzheimer’s disease

Researchers have found that the voice patterns reveal more than we think we know, as they point out the imminent danger of Alzheimer’s in future, if it is there.

Sona Patel, an Indian-origin researcher in US has embarked upon research to develop a low-cost test to decipher patients with Alzheimer’s just by listening to their voice patterns over the phone. She has received a $380,000 grant too.

A Professor at the Seton Hall University in New Jersey, Patel has long been working on the vocal impacts of the disorder and she is confident that some differences in voice patterns between normally ageing adults and those with Parkinson’s disease found so far can be extrapolated into a bigger research source to find out Alzheimer’s impact on individulas in the long run.

Patel told NJ.com:”You react with your voice automatically, without even realising it. So now, the question is if we can use it to indicate other neurological disorders.”

Using electroencephalogram (EEG) and auditory testing, she said it is possible to assess how Alzheimer’s patients respond to various speech tasks, and if their responses differ from those of Parkinson’s patients, and normally ageing adults, then it is easy to diagnose them.

If found successful, her research could lead to possible non-invasive, less expensive methods to detect neuro ailments such as Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s in early stages. Moreover, the test will be simpler and can even be done phone with automation possibly making it easy to reach everywhere, including the developing countries, she said.

Patel has been given a 3-year grant from the National Institute of Deafness and Communicative Disorders to undertake research at Seton Hall’s Voice Analytics and Neuropsychology Lab in South Orange.

sona patel

Seton Hall Professor Sona Patel with a study participant. (Photo courtesy Seton Hall University) (Fred Stucker)

“By the time the disease has progressed enough to be properly diagnosed, there is not much you can do,” she explained on the need for such research to detect Alzheimer’s early.


“If you can detect it earlier, and treat it earlier, and potentially slow down or even stop the progression, that would be amazing,” Patel said.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, about 170,000 people in New Jersey – or about 12 percent of the state’s senior citizens – are living with the disease. That number is expected to increase to 210,000 within the next 10 years.

Sona Patel is expected to wrap it up by next fall and she is currently looking for additional participants to take part in the study.

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