Auditory Comprehension in Alzheimer Disease: Influences of Gesture and Speech Rate (Care and Treatment)
The aim of this study was to investigate comprehension of commands presented in two rates of speech and two gesture conditions in 17 adults with mild-to-moderate Alzheimer disease (AD). A within-subjects design was employed to assess comprehension of two-part commands using common objects and actions presented at either a “normal” or “fast-normal” rate of speech, which were accompanied by either meaningful (pantomime) gestures or no gestures. Gestures facilitated comprehension in almost all (16 of 17) subjects. Rate of speech alone did not significantly affect comprehension, although comprehension was maximized for the group when fast normal commands were accompanied by gestures. Results suggest that the use of gestures may play a critical role in facilitating comprehension in individuals with mild-to-moderate AD. Several theoretical explanations of these findings are discussed. Additional explorations of the relationship between rate of speech and comprehension in this population are indicated, as are investigations of the success of caregiver training in the use of gesture to enhance comprehension of spoken messages by individuals with AD. **********
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